Secular Events

My ‘Arranged Court Marriage’

Having grown up in a predominantly traditional orthodox South Indian Brahmin family, it was taken for granted that I follow the traditional religious ways followed at home. I, being the youngest among four daughters and a son turned out to be otherwise, much to the surprise of my parents. From the age of 12 I started reflecting and questioning the traditions being religiously followed at home and in the surroundings, and the all the elders at home thought it was the fanciful adolescent period and hence would pass. Much to the annoyance of my siblings more than parents, my tirade against anything traditional or religious increased day by day.

Having seen innumerable arranged marriages within the immediately family of about 30 cousins, the never ending saga of “bridegroom-searching” with right horoscope (or horror-scope!) and right blend of ‘samskara’ and values, I vowed to myself that I would rather not marry at all than marry someone who believed in the match-making horoscope-matching business. And there was no way I would have found a non-believer on my own.

As I was just about to cross 21 years of my earthly life, my paternal aunt arrived with a groom’s detail ‘minus the horoscope’ and said that it was an ideal match for me! My parents and I were reluctant as we still had my elder sister to be married and my parents not too keen to see me married at such an early age! But my aunt persisted and since there was no escaping her, 3 of us set out for groom ‘seeing’ again much against the traditional foursome who usually go out for auspicious occasions (in a South Indian society it is customary that for any auspicious occasion only even number of people go). I think by then my mother too had started questioning the traditions, though she would never admit it openly!new-atheist-a

We went to the groom’s house and met the groom and his parents. We had an open talk in front of the parents and found lots of commonalities in ideologies and general outlook towards life. The groom emphasized that only a registered marriage was acceptable and also not to expect anything to do with religion or traditions.

My father was almost livid on hearing a ‘court marriage only’ condition and literally walked out in a huff. After hours of arguments, discussions and rounds of family members meetings, my father agreed to the wedding. He probably succumbed to the fact that his rebellious daughter may after all never be able to survive in a traditional religious family.

But the saga did not end here. During the long interval of 9 months between our decision to get married and the actual marriage day, the hot topic of discussion during any of the family gatherings was invariably my ‘non-traditional wedding’. Few of the elders of the family, of course with good intentions, even went to the extent of scaring my parents that the boy might have some problem and hence this arrangement; few of them related many ‘simple marriage’ incidences wherein the girl was duped and the groom ran away with jewels after about a week of marriage. It was indeed a real testing time for my parents to stand up to be with their daughter’s decision and an equal strong belief in the boy himself!

Eventually we did have a court marriage and a lunch party at my residence, but unfortunately no photographs of the signing of the registered marriage. The then Registrar from Jayanagar III Block, Bangalore did not let us photograph the registration seeing the entire family present for the same!

Today after 18 years of blissful marriage, with all its due ups and downs, we have survived the non-traditional non-religious way. Now it’s my son’s turn to fight his battle with his two grandmothers not to go through the ‘thread ceremony’ the Brahminical way!

About the author



  • Your statement about the ‘boy having problems and hence this arrangement’ was made about me too when I had declared my intention of getting married by a simple,non religious ceremony! That shows the typical attitude of the society towards people like us.
    But, I had my marriage soon after the notice period required under the special marriages act was over as I did not want to waste much time over trivial things.Another factor was my sister in laws marriage which took place within three months of ours.My father in law could have the unique ‘distinction’ of marrying off his two daughters in a period of three months despite of his not very strong economic status. In the community into which I was born it takes a few years for the brides family to recover from the effects of one marriage.

  • In a society,where freethinkers [rationalists and atheists]constitute as microscopic segment,there are practical compulsions.It is very difficult to find families who are ready to undertake bold and progressive initiative of non religious and non traditional marriage cermonies.Even individuals/families having that social tag of progressive outlook are in majority of cases regressive in their practice and perception.There is another aspect:in case of sisters and daughters of freethikers,comparatively there are more hindrances and complications.There is no smooth two way traffic.

    • There is another angle to your third point – from what has been observed, its not necessary that sisters and daughters of freethinkers are also thinking on similar lines.
      Only when women free themselves from bounded thinking, its possible to happen – it cannot be forced upon anyone.

    • This is very much a fact seen in our society… More so for bride’s family than boy’s. If a girl or her family takes up a decision to go for a non-religious, simple marriage ceremony it is almost impossible to find a groom (of course with other compatible qualities)!

  • A rational and courageous girl indeed. My salute to you Veena. May your son also follow in the rational footsteps of you parents.

  • Documents required for the Performance & Registration of court Marriage…

    1. Passport Size Photographs – four each of Marrying Persons.
    2. Residential Proof (Voter Card / Passport / Ration Car / Driving License / Bank Passbook / Lease Deed / Rent Deed) of Marrying Persons.
    3. Date of Birth Proof (Municipal Corporation Certificate, X th or XII th Examination Certificate, Passport, PAN Card) of Marrying Persons).
    4.If any party is divorcee Certified copy of Decree of Divorce granted by the Court.
    5. If any party is widow / widower Death Certificate of the dead spouse.
    6. If any party is a Foreign Citizen or holding a foreign Passport or is having foreign residential address – Certificate of Present Marital Status of the party / No Impediment Certificate / NOC from concerned Embassy and Valid VISA.
    7. Two Witnesses ( Both should be major ).

  • veena, i’m proud that u r my aunt…not many have the guts to take the next step in a relationship when so many were against it & trying to stop it. some who show that they are infact non-belivers just show off to the outside world, but do not have the guts to carry out their marriage or any other thing as they want.hats of to you

  • hello madam nice to hear your arranged court marriage. I an iyer , looking for someone (whom i also like) who is ready for registered or even simple marriage . But I am unlucky. all seem tobe interested in tradition, tradition at bride’s expense.

    • Ramamani,
      The very idea of us going thr’ registered marriage was because we have secular outlook! it was not only being against lavish weddings but also being non-religions, non-traditional.
      If one is clear on what one wants I am sure you will find it and marriage is definitely not be-all end-all.

  • Hello Veena,
    I did not understand this:
    ‘Eventually we did have a court marriage and a lunch party at my residence, but unfortunately no photographs of the signing of the registered marriage. The then Registrar from Jayanagar III Block, Bangalore did not let us photograph the registration seeing the entire family present for the same!’
    Can Veena or someone else explain why photos were not allowed to be taken just because “seeing the entire family present for the same”?

    • Ejji,
      Way back, registered marriage was thought of to be only for those who wedded without family’s permission or else for NRIs specifically grooms in US and the bride following him; they would have already gone thr’ a 3-days of traditional marriage and registration was namesake or rather visa-sake!
      The registrar thought it weird that we were going thr’ only registration with the entire family with us! He had a glass-enclosed cabin in which he allowed only my husband-to-be and myself and 2 witnesses! the rest had to watch us like we were in a glass-cage! and those days we didnt have mobile nor digital cameras.

  • I really wish to have such a wedding, devoid of rituals and traditions. I would like to know if the wedding has to take place at the register office? or is it possible to have it either at the groom’s or bride’s residence?

Leave a Comment