Arranged marriages in India

By Kelly Ursem

Gretchen Helmke and Steven Levitsky defines Informal institutions “as socially shared rules, usually unwritten, that are created, communicated, and enforced outside of officially sanctioned channels”. Although informal institutions are not officially written down rules, they are able to create a solid structure for society to follow.  Informal institutions can come in four different types; complementary, accommodating, competing and substitutive informal institutions as seen in the table below.

Arranged marriage could be said to be a form of informal institutions; which is a ritual that occurs in India on a regular basis whereby their perception of the institution of marriage is very different than from the West. Arranged marriage is defined as a marriage planned and agreed by the families or guardians of the couple concerned, whereby this tradition lacks any official and legal recognition or support – yet is followed by many Indian families.

This practice involves several processes including practices like matching the horoscope of the couple in order to ensure compatibility, the background of the families and their castes, which are practices that all arranged marriages go through, even though they are not officially written down rules. Whereby originally, the bride and groom are not asked for consent or informed about their future partner, however, with the evolution to more modern societies, both partners are now asked for their consent. Hereby showing how the institution can be changed over time, even though they take a long time to change. Thus, it can be seen that although this is an informal institution, families of arranged marriages follow the same rules and processes that is widely known and accepted within the Indian culture, before the official institution of marriage is carried out.