'Cool way to meet the love of your life': one woman's arranged marriage journey
Arranged marriage is common throughout India. Most married couples are set up by family, friends, or a matchmaker.
But the practice isn't as common in the United States, where some people stereotype arranged marriages as unconventional or unloving.
RadioActive’s Anjali Einstein talked to her family friend Dhana Viswanathan about her own experience with arranged marriage, and the beautiful love story that came out of the custom.
Content note: The audio version of this story references caste, which can be a trigger for those who have experienced its harmful effects. Please take care when listening.
[RadioActive Youth Media is KUOW's radio journalism and audio storytelling program for young people. This story was entirely youth-produced, from the writing to the audio editing.]
ven while growing up in the United States, Dhana Viswanathan always thought it was a possibility she could end up in an arranged marriage — something she initially felt was uncool.
But Dhana began to feel more comfortable with the idea of an arranged marriage after her sister, as well as her college friends, had one. She never felt pressure from her family to have an arranged marriage, as they always maintained an open mind.
Dhana’s parents created a profile for her on Tamil Matrimony, an Indian matchmaking website. They filled out information such as family background and occupation — essentially online dating set up by parents.
Dhana went with the flow, meeting other people on the site, while also meeting with people in her life. On only her second match date, she met her future husband, Balaji Viswanathan.
"We decided to meet at the temple first," Dhana remembered. "And what did I think? He kind of had his shirt tucked in. And I was like, 'Oh, no, he looks so nerdy!' But now when I asked him, he's like, 'I had my shirt tucked in because I wanted to look nice, and I wanted to look formal when I first met your parents.'"
Dhana got engaged only three weeks after she first met her husband in November, and had her wedding in India in May the following year, when she was 23 years old.
But it wasn't until after the wedding that she fell in love with her husband.
"I think before the wedding, I was just like, 'He's a good guy and I can see myself being with him, and I know he'll take good care of me, and I know that we can live a happy life together,' and all of that," Dhana said. "But only after we had our first child, and he got to see my really low of lows, and he stuck by me, and he was just like, 'We're gonna get through this' and 'You can do this.' That's when I was like, dang, I really love you. Like, this is so cool to have that kind of person."
Dhana added that her personal journey changed her outlook on arranged marriages.
"I think arranged marriages get such a bad rep these days just because — I mean, some of the things I’m guilty of: I thought it was so uncool. And just because something is so uncool — I feel like that was so immature of me to think though when I was younger. But now that I’ve gone through it, I’m like, 'This is a good process!' And I’m not saying dating is not, it’s just a different kind of dating. This can be a really cool way to meet the love of your life."
This story was produced in a RadioActive Youth Media one-week Intro to Radio Storytelling workshop for high school-age youth.
Production assistance by Merk Nguyen and Lucas Galarneau. Prepared for the web by Kelsey Kupferer.