“I wouldn’t agree to an arranged marriage,” Patel says. “I would agree if [my parents] want me to meet someone, though not necessarily on the condition that I have to get married.”
Patel believes that being brought up outside of India has made a difference to her thinking. While she remains connected to Indian culture, she is thankful for being in the environment of Hong Kong.
“It gives me another point of view and also gives my parents another point of view.”
She believes that the sense of freedom in Hong Kong has helped her to develop her independent thinking on the subject of marriage.
Another Indian student, Jaanum Harjani, has similar views on being raised in Hong Kong. Currently studying in her first year of Business and Administration at CUHK, Harjani cannot bear the thought of settling down in India.
“Since I was born and raised in Hong Kong, I am used to the lifestyle here,” Harjani explains.
As life in India is very different from life in Hong Kong, Harjani has told her parents that they can look for a partner for her from anywhere but India. She would still prefer her parents to find her a suitable partner for her and assess whether he is capable of supporting her.
While there are stories of struggle, hardship and even violence and abuse in arranged marriages, there are also success stories. “I have seen successful cases which are well-arranged. Couples can treat each other well,” Unison’s Fermi Wong says.
Some scholars have pointed to family support as one factor of successful arranged marriages; others have suggested the lack of anxiety over whether they have found “the right person” helps those in arranged marriages.
Ultimately, while most interviewees still support arranged marriage, there are more and more exceptions. When it comes to the future for their own children, most interviewees say they would prefer to advise and teach their children how to choose the right person instead of arranging their marriage.
Even student Jaanum Harjani, who says she would prefer her parents to screen her suitors, says she is prepared to make an exception for the right man.
“I don’t even mind love marriage if I find a guy who can give me the commitment and support I need in my life and whom I really feel loves me.”