Introduction of Marriage Prospects

Anju is 25-years-old. She received a Masters in International Business this past summer and just started an exciting new job with a business management consultancy. Because she’s such a recent grad, living at home with her semi-traditional Asian parents makes the most financial sense. On a quiet Saturday afternoon she’s having coffee with a grammar school friend and she receives a text from her parents inquiring about her whereabouts. They have some guests at home they would like for her to meet.

“That’s odd,” she says to her mate. “They’ve never minded me not being at home for guests in the past.” On returning home she discovers that it’s not just her parents’ friends who have come to visit, but a young man about her age as well. Anju’s parents and the visiting Aunty and Uncle urge the two to chat about work and their mutual friends. Anju is experiencing her first prospective rishta.

 According to the Urban Dictionary (very scholarly, you see), a rishta is the Hindi/Urdu term for marriage proposal. Traditional and even many non-traditional South Asian families organise supervised meetings for their young adult children to introduce the prospect of a suitable boy/girl with the intention of marriage. While it may be difficult to swallow for second, third and fourth generation South Asians living in the UK, it’s a tradition that has proven successful for generations. The philosophy behind the ritual is that parents know what’s best for their children.

For many British-Asians, rishtas seem foreign and unnatural. Having been raised on the Disney-esque fairytale of entirely organic love-at-first-sight, being offered the prospect of marriage by a parent seems awkward. Beginning a date with this attitude is completely the wrong way to frame the situation. Viewing the meeting as a networking opportunity more than a love-match will take the pressure off and offer a greater chance a natural interaction. Don’t immediately dismiss your parents’ perceived matches for you. You have much more to lose by choosing not to expand your network than taking a chance. At the end of the day if it’s not a match made in heaven, it may result in a connection with a contact of theirs that could be.


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