Compare two cultures on their marital systems, monogamy versus polygamy or polyandry.doc

Compare two cultures on their marital systems, monogamy versus polygamy or polyandry.doc

The marital systems differ sharply in the western culture as compared to that of the eastern - Compare two cultures on their marital systems, monogamy versus polygamy or polyandry.doc introduction. Though the two cultures treat the marital institution, as reliable and proper means to enhance race yet the ways and means these adopt to establish a nuptial agreement are most of the times starkly different from each other. Take for example India to represent the east and Canada to west. In India the marriage of a son or daughter is the foremost responsibility of the male elder of the family. The father or grand father of the bride or the bridegroom arranges the marriage though the rest of his family including mostly the senior women of the family assists him often. The he is also responsible to provide finances for the commencement of the rituals of a marriage that are often very expensive.

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            Dowry is an inevitable and essential part of the marriage and is customarily arranged by the family of the bride. Unfortunately, it is the size of the dowry that decides the fate of a marriage in India unlike in Canada. The brides with little dowry are very often snubbed and beaten to death especially in the low-income strata of the Indian society. On the contrary the girls with large dowries rule the house of the bridegroom’s family and enjoy special privileges and honor, there. The bridegroom on the other hand also arranges some gifts, though meager in comparison to the dowry mostly, for his wife. While in Canada the marriage is mostly the matter of the two getting married. The spouses are at liberty to select their compatible match. The interference of the rest of the family is only limited to their participation in the ritual. They family members be they are the father or mother have but very little say in the matchmaking. Dowry, unlike India, is insignificant and plays no part in deciding the fate of a marriage whether it would be a success or not. The items of dowry include furniture and fixture; utensils and


kitchen ware; sewed and un-sewed clothes for the bride groom mainly and for his family generally; ornaments of gold and silver; car or motorcycle; and if the family is rich a brand new house is also included. While in Canada the dowry is simple and does not cross the extent of being called as gift that is usually contributed by the family members and friends of both the spouses.

 In India the matchmaking is seldom allowed to select a spouses. The girl especially is totally devoid of voicing her likings or disliking in the selection of her life partner. The consideration of a mutually enjoyable and productive sexual relation ship is often suppressed by the demand of dowry by the family of the male spouse. The lesser is the age of a girl the greater is her prospects for marriage in a typical Indian household. While in Canada though mostly the wives are younger in age as compared to their husbands and the age is not important in establishing a matrimonial contract. The brides in India are mostly minors even by the Indian legal standards for a marital eligibility age. It is the social norms that drive the marital institution and not law in India. While in Canada, law is enforced with full zest hence preventing the marriage of a minor girl. The minor girls who are married to a person they are merely in love with, experience horrible sexual episodes usually.   “It was a terrifying experience. When I tried to resist, he pinned my arms above my head. It was so painful and suffocating that I fainted, for I only remember getting up in the morning and finding stains of blood on the bed sheet. My husband was no longer in the room. I slowly got up and went to the toilet, feeling sick and depressed. This is how 32-year-old Laxmi (not her real name) recalls her first sexual experience at age 13. Like many of the married women interviewed… ” ( Haq, Khan, Townsend, 2005).


While infidelity in a matrimonial relationship is punishable for the girl and is neglected if man is a party in India. While for the offense of infidelity the spouses are equally punished in Canada, both by law and the society.

Unlike Canada, again, the fear of divorce torments an Indian wife through the course of her marital life as she is turned into an unwanted commodity by the society. Because of the financially dependent nature of her social status the divorced women is always compelled to lie aside in the house of her father and no one is prepared to marry her. There is some evidence of women living without marriage with a man as reveals this line “She lived with Bhikari, but was not his ‘wife’ (Sen, Page 01). The society in Canada portrays a totally different picture of married women. A Canadian female is on the contrary free to break her marriage, though in accordance with the provisions of the law, and is accepted as honorable. Her marital life is ready to take a new start without having any prejudices at the part of the society. The new spouse accepts her wholeheartedly and spends life with her according to the common aspirations. “She who dines if her husband dines, she who eats at his command, after he sits, she who sleeps after he sleeps, in short she who is agreeably disposed towards him is a faithful wife” (Nursing Journal of India, Mar 2006). The Canadian woman enjoys a very important edge over the Indian counterparts of being financially sound and independent.

The Indian society infanticides millions of its girls every year. The very existence of a female is threatened right from the time she appears in the womb till her death. If a woman gives birth to too many daughters she is snubbed and beaten sometimes to death and even even the women of his family, in teasing her, assist the man. This mindset of the Indian society keeps the pregnant


women under extreme mental stress apart from the pains related to pregnancy that she would be damaged if a girl were born.  “Using data from 116,498 once-married female respondents to the 1992-1993 and 1998-1999 Indian National Family Health Surveys, we found that at lower parities, having at least one son is associated with a significantly lower risk of divorce or separation” ( Bose, South, V 65,4).

The major rites and rituals include Mangni in India equivalent to engagement in Canada, Shadi is in India is what is known in Canada as nuptial ceremony. The rites are performed at the house of the bride where bridegroom arrives along with scores of his accomplices, friends and family members who turn up at the ceremony from across the country and sometimes from abroad. After the Nikah is performed the family of the bride offers a sumptuous meal to the invitees. These are the common features and feasts of a marriage in India. But as India is a multiethnic, multi-religious society a slight difference is noticed where the matters of religion are involved. For example, Muslim bridegrooms offer ‘Walima’ a religiously mandatory feast to the participants after he spends the first night with wife.

Poligamy among the Muslims in India is rampant and liked. It is the duty of a Muslim society to never let the widows and divorced women unmarried, for it could be a painful life experience for them. This availability of divorced and widowed women in the society could cause many social ailments according to the Muslims. They therefore consider it a religious duty to propose and get married to a woman left hapless by the circumstances.

The polygamy is disliked by the Hindus. They many times raise their voice against this commitment of polygamy by Muslims. Though widows and divorced women could marry with single men and it is not necessary that already married should under go a marriage with the frail


form. The Muslims being the second largest community in India enjoy a set of separate personal laws that govern their marital issues as well as other personal matters. Though the shadows of the majority Hindu population is deterring more and more of them to marry more than once, they do not consider polygamy a sin. The Muslims in Canada are also a large minority group yet there they are not allowed to undergo polygamy as all other Canadians. Monogamy is encouraged among all the Canadians the social set up in Canada is so designed that it is virtually impossible for a person to get married with two women at the same time. Yet the increase in the intimae relationships of Canadian men with women other than wives are frequently being reported by the print and electronic media now a days. Polyandry on the other hand is equally disregarded in all the segments of the Indian society. Yet some incidents spring up some times reporting polyandry in the areas of India bordering the Himalayan state of Bhutan. Polyandry in Canada is seldom reported and acknowledged as a way of nuptial life as the conventions of faithfulness in one spouse are deep-rooted and well established.

The marital conventions of India are so designed to further, nurture, and protect the generation. These conventions are governing the Indian society for thousands of years. India is the second most populous country of the world housing hundreds of millions of people and millions of married couples who spend their lives with a sense of satisfaction and with a sense of dedication to their children. The Indians compromise their self-satisfaction for the sake of the future of their children.

The same is the case in Canada. A mother in Canada is equally dedicated to her children as the one in India. Increase in divorce rate during the past two decades still fails to diminish the number of married couples from their first position. “Married couple families still constitute the


large majority of families”( Statistics Canada).

The common goal of the western culture as studied through Canada or the eastern one as studied through India aim at producing healthy, vigilant, self-sustained, and progressive generations.

The cultural diversity between the two cultures does not show the superiority of one culture as compared to the other. Both the cultures, the western and the eastern, are proven for their benevolence and strengthening of the human race. The scarcity and want of resources sometimes compel the people of one area to resort to unwanted means to lead life as in the case of India. The abundance of the resources drives the society towards civility and calm as in the case of Canada. The marital institution has successfully kept the societies intact the children safe so far. No other system of relationship of man and woman could prove itself credible to take care of the children of the society as the marital system in the west or in the east.


Works cited page

Journal of Marriage and Family, Volume 65, Number 4, November 2003, pp 996-1006(11)

Publisher: Black Publishing

Sex Composition of Childern and Marital Disruption in India

Authors: Sunita Bose; Scot J. South

Women and Labor in late Colonial India: The Bengal Jute Industry by Samita sen page 1

Nursing Journal of India, Mar 2006 Reproduced from THE NURSING JOURNAL OF INDIA, MARCH, 1910  ‘THE POSITION OF WOMEN’

Statistics Canada, “Census Family Structure”

Marital breakdown and subsequent depression By Michelle Rotermann Statistics Canada


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