Swayamvara – a practice in olden days for choosing a “Life Partner” for a girl. Father of the girl arranges for a Swayamvara on an auspicious day & time and spreads the message out. The marriageable girl gets to choose her husband from a list of suitors present on that day. Often times, it so happens, that the girl and her father will evaluate the suitors by conducting a tough competition. The girl will garland the one who succeeds in it.
In Ramayama, King Janakar arranged a Swayamvara for her daughter Sita. The competition was to lift the Shiv Dhanush from the table and string it. Rama lifted the bow and in the process of stringing it, he ended up breaking it. Eventually, Sita garlanded Rama and they became “Life partners”.
Similar incidents happened even in Mahabaratha where Arjuna was challenged to hit a fish’s eye with a bow and arrow by looking at the fish’s reflection in the water. He won the challenge and married Draupadi.
Let’s look at 21st Century Swayamvara…
Janakaraj – Father of the Bride
Dasarath – Father of Bride groom
Sam (or Sampath) – Bride groom
Tika (or Tilakavathy) – Bride
[Between Janakaraj and Tika @ their residence in Chennai]
Janakaraj: O my dearest daughter Tika, I think it is time to for you to get married.
Tika: Father, I have just completed my college. I am just 22.
Janakaraj: Did you not read in the autos “pennin thirumana vayathu 21”? You have gone past that age. It becomes my responsibility to get you married.
Tika: Ok my dearest father. If you feel so, I will get married.
Janakaraj: Dear daughter, I know you are a nice girl just like your mother. But still I want to know if you have someone in mind.
Tika: O my father – the paradigm of middle class. I being very finicky, there are hardly any choices available; I have not found anyone interesting. You need to take care of finding someone for me.
Janakaraj: That is my pleasure, my young daughter. Here I have, a list of eligible guys whose photos I have inside this G.R.T. polythene cover. You can select from the list.
Tika: O my sweet pa pa. Thank you.
[Between Sam and Dasarath over phone. Sam is in US and Dasarath is in Chennai]
Dasarath: O my son in US. How are you doing? How is the climate now? Is it still snowing?
Sam: O my father, I am doing great. It finally stopped snowing.
Dasarath: Son, I want you to get married when you come back. I have got a list of girls from which you can choose one.
Sam: Great father, paradigm of “converted” upper-middle-class from lower-middle-class. Send me the photos of these girls along with their resume.
Dasarath: I will have your younger brother Max (Masilamani) send it to you in email.
Sam: Thanks father. I will short list them and let you know through email.
Dasarath: Good my dear son. We will fix appointment with the parents of the shortlisted girls. When you come over here, we can see the girls in person and finalize.
Sam: That sounds great my dear father. Let them know clearly that I will be there in India for just 3 weeks within which the wedding should be completed.
Dasarath: O the architect of XYZ systems, NY, USA; What about the betrothal?
Sam: O my genius father, betrothal can happen just a week in advance. BTW, I need to stay in India at least a week after the marriage.
Dasarath: Why? my intelligent son. You can have your honeymoon in Niagara.
Sam: My dearest father, that week is for processing the Visa for my wife.
Dasarath: Okay! I understand my dear son. We will make sure you have one week after wedding. You come over here.
After the call, Sam shortlisted 4 girls, based on criteria like: availability of passport, dowry, college of study (to guess on their English skills), orkut friends count (to guess on the character), cooking skills and last but not the least the appearance. The list was emailed to his brother Max who gave it to Dasarath for further processing. Simultaneously, Sam started interacting with all the 4 girls in orkut to get to know them.
When Sam came back to India, he saw all the 4 girls on the same day, one after the other. Just before entering into Tika’s house (4th girl), Sam saw her standing in the balcony; “Sam-mum nokinaan – Tika-vum nokinaal”.
Janakaraj wanted to evaluate Sam and so he had asked Tika’s cousin to bring a bunch of Java books and kept it in the hallway book shelf. The idea was to see if Sam gets attracted towards them and has any comments to offer. This way Janakaraj will know Sam’s Java skills and thereby his job assurance in US. Sam entered the house and after a cup of coffee saw these Java books and said, “Ooh Java books! I like and often refer to “Java Complete Reference” because it covers everything in Java”. Janakaraj gazed at Tika’s cousin for opinion, who nodded his head to mean “YES”.
The betrothal happened the very next day because Wednesday was considered auspicious (pon kidachalum puthan kidaikathu). Wedding was planned for the next weekend, so that there was one more week left for them to get Visa for Tika to travel.