Kids Corner


My Girl Friend, a Sikh, Is Having An Arranged Marriage ... To Another:
The Roundtable Open Forum # 86





I split up with my girlfriend - Sikh - because her parents have arranged a marriage for her and she wouldn't tell her Dad about us.

I'm 19 and English. She, 16, came from a Sikh family. We met at college and were together for eight months.

When she reached 17, her parents told her they'd arranged a marriage for her. She wouldn't stand up to her father because he has heart problems and must not have any stress in his life.

The man they have chosen is 23, rich, successful and fantastically fit. I'm none of these.

She wouldn't talk to her parents about us, so I went to her house and spoke to her mum, but she's too scared to tell her husband.

I sadly gave up after that and returned all the things which my girlfriend had given me to her mum.

I told my ex what I'd done and then I started to get threats from her and her family. They said they would call the police for harassment.

She says she hates me for going to her house. She and her mum aren't talking and her dad still doesn't know.

The only reason she's marrying this guy is to keep her dad happy. She's marrying someone she doesn't love and who won't make her happy. I don't want her to make a decision she'll regret for the rest of her life.

I'm completely in love with her. I've told her I'll do anything to be with her, even if it means changing religion or living with her family for the rest of my life.

Should I go and speak to her Dad, and risk the police getting involved, or leave her alone and go our separate ways?



What advice would you give this young man?

(Let's call him "Martin" for the purpose of this exercise. And her "Karan".)



February 22, 2012





Conversation about this article

1: Jasbir Kaur (Birmingham, United Kingdom), February 22, 2012, 11:11 AM.

Before anything else, I'm concerned with your describing yourself as "English" and her as "Sikh". It loads the deck, showing that you see yourself as the norm and her background as an anomaly. Therein, dear Martin, lies the root of your difficulty. You need to stand back and think things out a bit.

2: A.S.D. (United Kingdom), February 22, 2012, 11:30 AM.

Martin, first you say you guys love each other, then you disclose that she and her mother are giving you threats. Are you kidding me? If she loved you, she wouldn't threaten to call the police on you. You are now imposing yourself on her and her family, while they have made it clear you're not welcome. Check your facts. Thirdly: she is only 17 - a minor! I believe that she isn't mature enough. So there lies the problem of Western culture - "English' to you! - you just want to speed up stuff ... love, sex, marriage at the early age of 20 ... then, who knows, divorce at 22?

3: Gambhir Kaur (New Jersey, U.S.A.), February 22, 2012, 11:40 AM.

So, you say he is rich, successful, good looking, etc? And you say - or imply - you are not. You're 19. You love her. There's no mention of her loving you. For whatever reasons - even if you don't understand them - she's asked you to go away. So? Leave her alone. If you don't, it IS harassment, not love.

4: Onkar Singh (Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.), February 22, 2012, 11:55 AM.

Martin, you seem to imply that there's something wrong with an "arranged marriage", and your "love" should reign supreme. Given your ages, and all the facts laid out by you - and we haven't heard Karan's side of the story - it is obvious that what you call "love" is nothing but youthful infatuation. On the other hand, her parents have thought out carefully and introduced her to a "suitable match". She has shown maturity by being willing to be guided by her parents. If you think she is not acting maturely or isn't mature enough to resist pressure from her parents, surely the same argument applies to you ... given your age. Based on all that you have said, Karan has emerged as the more mature one of the two. I agree ... it is time for you to move on.

5: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), February 22, 2012, 11:57 AM.

Wow. Where to start? I think Jasbir Kaur has hit the nail on the head. In Sociology, there is a branch of studies known as Social Justice. Social justice basically maintains that minorities (gender, ethnic, religious, sexuality, etc.) live under circumstances where there own experiences are not valued because it does not fall in line with the experiences of the straight, white, male men. White men unfortunately seem to believe that they have a monopoly on women of all colour, and this is not extended towards coloured men. One can see this by the fact that television constantly portrays interracial couples where the man is white and that the woman is coloured, yet there are significantly less examples of vice versa. You need to understand that her being born in a "white" country does not mean that her experiences as a Punjabi woman should be negated because they seem unimportant or unadvantageous to you. Now, I'm not agreeing with her parents arranging her marriage at the age of 17, as that too is wrong. However, I don't think that ruining the relationship that this girl has with her parents over something what could amount to puppy love is the right answer either.

6: Morrissey (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 22, 2012, 12:09 PM.

Sorry, mate ... you are out of luck. She knew her boundaries when she got involved with you and she figured "vanilla" would be an interesting flavor to try (guys do this all the time). She had no intention of moving forward. Thank your lucky stars and move on.

7: S. Kaur (U.S.A.), February 22, 2012, 12:44 PM.

Like everything else, what seems like the end-all today will be washed away with time. I'm sure you don't want to hear that you are young and naive, but you are. True love is calm and content, not a tumultuous infatuation. Chasing after what is not love is a futile effort that you may regret in the future - so let her be. You should find someone who loves you the same, and is possibly of a similar mindset. It will definitely make for smoother sailing in the long run.

8: Onkar Singh (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), February 22, 2012, 1:21 PM.

I agree with everyone here. Martin, you have to move on and let go of her.

9: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 22, 2012, 1:44 PM.

Relationships can only work if there is seriousness about attraction and love! The rest is just an exercise in 'experimentation'.

10: A.J. Vaid (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), February 22, 2012, 1:53 PM.

I agree with Morrissey: Sikh or not, arrangeed marriage or not, 17 or not, if this girl had love for you, she would stand tall within her family and declare it. Sikh women are not weak. She has agreed to an arranged marriage, she is also insisting that you leave her alone - there is your cue to leave them all alone and go your way. She is not that into you.

11: Sharandeep Singh (United Kingdom), February 22, 2012, 2:25 PM.

It is her decision to engage with her own traditions and customs, important to her faith. Simple. If it's not a forced marriage, leave her alone. The West's view of love is predicated on an unrealistic reality and for her, love goes far beyond instant gratification and solely looking after one's own happiness. Leave her alone and let her make the choices she feels are right for her.

12: Sahiba (India), February 22, 2012, 2:39 PM.

I think that Karan is being very sensible and mature. Martin, you need to accept that she wants to do this for herself and/or her father's and mother's happiness ... it's for her to decide. It appears to be an alien concept for you, Martin, but she is indeed giving weight to the fact that her parents have been sacrificing so many things to date for her. You have been in her life for but a relatively short time only, and feel that you are the best. But her parents know better. And she too knows what's best for her. Move on ... it's the best thing for her ... and you.

13: Manjit Kaur (Maryland, U.S.A.), February 22, 2012, 2:48 PM.

I agree with most of the comments above. However, I would also just like to emphasis that Karan is too young at 17 to be married. Regardless of whether this is an arranged marriage with a Sikh or had it been a love marriage with someone such as Martin, Karan needs yet to blossom and find herself and not be rushed into one of the most important relationships of her life.

14: Kanwar (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 22, 2012, 4:05 PM.

You can't win this one, Martin. Even if you get her, she'll spend the next 60 years reminding you of the richer, sexier guy she should have married. Walk away, my friend.

15: Simran Jeet Singh (U.S.A.), February 22, 2012, 7:26 PM.

These comments make me sad. I would have hoped that someone would address the power dynamics in this story that so aptly reflect Punjabi culture. Is it fair to assume that the father figure gets to make the rules and the women have to follow them? I feel bad for everyone involved in this story ...

16: Manjeet Shergill (Singapore), February 22, 2012, 7:35 PM.

Shouldn't you two still be in school, spend a few years traveling, get jobs, do some social work and then, may be, think about marriage - love or arranged. Experimentation is also life - gives you lots of learning as to how to live happy and healthy. All relationships are important and meaningful. Give yourself time to grow wise and make decisions from that space. Punjabi-sikh or English-Ssikh - we are here to learn - keep walking.

17: R.S. Minhas (Short Hills, New Jersey, U.S.A.), February 22, 2012, 7:50 PM.

Martin, I am not much of an expert in these matters, but could not pass the opportunity to offer advice :) This is hardly a cultural issue as it's being made out to be. American writer Richard Back said: "If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they're yours; if they don't, they never were." Lau Tzu, the Chinese teacher, said: "Those who force it, ruin it; those who grasp it, lose it." Check out this David Cook song, On the contrary, dear Martin, your emotions are somewhat captured by the Pakistani singer, Mehndi Hassan's Ghazal: "zindagi mein to sabhi pyar kiya kartay hain, mein to mar kar bhi meri jaan tujhay chahoon gaa ... " The sikh perspective in my view is that the web of maya is strong. It is like a mirage. What is there, many times, it is not there.

18: Pardeep (Canada), February 22, 2012, 9:59 PM.

Martin, as far as I'm concerned, she knew all along that one day her marriage is going to be arranged by her parents. I think she was just having some fun with you. Kids in each family know what there limits are. Martin, it is time to move on, if you love her. And I don't think you should discuss the matter with her father. She would have done that if she wanted to. Sorry for your heart break.

19: Simran (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), February 22, 2012, 10:01 PM.

Martin, I completely understand your situation. The exact same thing happened to me. I fell for a guy who wasn't Sikh and my parents did not accept him. They told me I had a choice: them or him and the only way they could accept him was if he converted and became a Sikh. Honestly, I felt like both parties were ripping me apart. They would just fight for what they wanted or needed from me and would make the situation all about them, instead of considering what I wanted/needed. If you are serious about this girl and you are willing to assimilate and be what her parents want in a spouse, you should go for it. Money, status and looks mean nothing. Character is what defines us. If you cannot, for whatever reason, you should both move on and over time the pain will fade. Mine has. From my experience I have learned that anyone can love anyone and any relationship can work if the two individuals are committed to make it work. So it may take her a while but she will love him and you will find someone for whom you won't have to compromise yourself. Remember, everything happens for a reason.

20: Sonali (India), February 22, 2012, 10:38 PM.

Dear Martin, it would be better for you to move on with your life. It's good for everyone's peace and happiness. Considering Karan's father's sensitive situation, you should not involve him. It looks like God has destined someone else for Karan. Accepting that this is God's decision, you should move on in your life. Your own destiny will open many other positive doors in future. No need to get disheartened. The right time will give you a better opportunity. Good luck.

21: Hope (United Kingdom), February 23, 2012, 8:39 AM.

Martin Dahling, Its nice you lost your heart to a Sikh lassy and all. I can just imagine how your heart must have gone all Boompty Booompty Boom! Aaaaaaaaaaa-aow Cho Chweet. You get brownie points for braving it enough to go see her mum and all that too. Well, the long and short of it all is that zee Sikh lassy is NOT about to break her dad's heart for nothing in the world. Most Sikh lassies do finally start kinda takin' their 'arranged' husband in their stride and get on with life and most of 'em do live happily - or sad - ever after ... not unlike any other kind of marriages in any community or society. Well, depends on what each one of 'em makes out of what lies ahead. Take it all as a great moment in your life ... for as long as it lasted, and now hasten to write THE END at the bottom of this heart breaking story. Get on with life ... this time keep strictly off all propah Sikh lassies ... you don't want to go through it all over again, or do you? By the way, me too is a Sikh lassy and I'm married to a German and well my mum was happy as long as I was happy ... but my mum types are quite a rare occurrence. My Dad passed on long ago and I doubt if he would have wanted to tamper with my happiness either, and yes, I am very happily married and have two kids. Touch wood! Come on, Martin cheer up, let me see ya grin and we could have a cuppa together and I'll tell ya all the secrets of us Sikhs, we're good as long as we have it our way and you no wanna get on the wrong side of us types! Muah!

22: Sunny Singh (Canada ), February 23, 2012, 9:16 AM.

I do agree with most of the comments above. But it should also be pointed out that Karan is also at fault in this situation. She was in a relationship with him for eight months and then decided that she will follow the "traditional Punjabi values" after she had explored this particular relationship. Martin does have the right to express his feelings that Karan had lead him to. People who decide that dating is the best way to find love should do that, and people who want arranged marriages should be proud of that as well, but don't mix the two up.

23: Vismad Singh (California, U.S.A.), February 23, 2012, 9:42 AM.

Sorry, Sunny Singh ji, I do not agree. Isn't dating about getting to know your way around the "battle of the sexes", to see if you like one person enough to marry him/her, etc. We as a community have always criticized ourselves for treating dating as if it is a guaranteed one-way slide into marriage. In this case, Karan has behaved maturely, but we have this guy who boasts of being "English", but who thinks - quite primitively, I might add - that the mere fact he has dated her and fallen in love with her, that the rest of the universe should now fall into line to accommodate him. Karan is 50% of the equation. For better or worse, she's decided to move on. Martin, that's what you need to do, buddy.

24: Beth Dinson (London, United Kingdom), February 23, 2012, 9:57 AM.

I have some serious concerns over Martin's having posted this sordid tale in "The Sun". I see it as a racist act and a mischievous one at that. Let me explain. If you see the original posting in The Sun, you'll see that Martin has openly identified himself by posting a photo of himself - a blond, blue-eyed, pink fella. He identifies himself as 'English", he identifies Karan and her family as "Sikh". He emphasizes her young age, her father's decision-making role in the family, the "arranged marriage", etc, to win support for himself, and arouse ire against "these Sikhs"! Why would he go public on such a personal matter? Doesn't he have parents, friends, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, he can turn to for advice? Just because Karan has family to guide and support her means that there is something wrong with her or them? Balderdash! Why has he exposed this young girl publicly? After all, if they have dated for 8 months, by identifying himself he has identified her publicly in their local community, where obviously The Sun is read. I fear he is getting his revenge by trying to malign Karan publicly and to stir up a backlash against Sikh-Britons, even it means locally. I am sorry, people, I see his actions as extremely racist and bordering on the criminal. Even though I have concerns over Karan's tender age re marriage, I can see that her father may be trying to meet his obligations as a father, and has probably been apprised - by Karan, who else? - of Martin's propensities and has felt compelled to take action to prevent a disaster or a tragedy. There is no suggestion of a forced marriage, Karan has herself told Martin of her decision. Bottom line: I see Martin as a trouble-maker, Karan and her family as potential victims who have taken steps to protect themselves from his shenanigans and machinations. Think about it, please ... each one of you, before passing judgements on Karan, her dad, her mum or anyone else.

25: Beth Dinson (London, United Kingdom), February 23, 2012, 10:04 AM.

And one more thing: when was the last time you saw a "white" male's story in The Sun, complaining about losing the love of a "white" girl friend? If Martin had written about a "white" girl friend in similar circumstances, do you think The Sun would've bothered to publish such a story?

26: Sunny Singh (Canada), February 23, 2012, 11:07 AM.

I would like to clarify my point that I had made earlier. I agree that Martin is displaying racist, sexist, and naive characteristics. But Karan even at a young age decided that she would enter the dating world. Realistically not all young dating couples end up marrying each other. The issue that I have with this situation is that Karan should have thought about her parents before entering the dating world, and in particular, an interracial relationship. I'm born and raised in Canada, Ontario to be more specific, and I truly value my Punjabi traditions, as well my Canadian identity. I personally have chosen to get an arranged marriage (of course I was brought up with this mentality, but I agree with it). I also understand that dating is also a viable option, because I have seen many success stories. Ultimately, parents should not pressure their children at a young-adult age. Karan's parents needed to communicate their values of life to Karan at a younger age or more effectively. Now they have to deal with the negative aspect of trying to mix arranged and dating, which is what I was implementing earlier.

27: B. Singh (Canada), February 23, 2012, 5:52 PM.

I feel like everyone in this story comes off poorly. I agree with Beth's view and would like to add that Martin was inappropriate in going to Karan's mother without her permission. I agree with Sunny as well. Karan must have known that her relationship with Martin couldn't last. She also had to have known that her parents were looking for a husband for her very early on in her relationship with Martin (possibly even before?); so it was wrong of her to lead the boy on. Karan's parents also deserve some criticism for marrying off their daughter at 17 years of age though we don't have the full story on that. Finally, The Sun deserves a lot of criticism for being a sham of a newspaper and for a piss poor display of journalism. Since when is teenage drama newsworthy? If they wanted to touch upon the subject of interracial relationships, then why is their only source of information a jilted 19 year old with a grand total of 8 months experience in the matter? It looks like they're trying to use a mundane story about puppy love to stoke racial tensions.

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The Roundtable Open Forum # 86"

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