Mangalorean Marriage Customs and Traditions – Match making


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Marriages were predominantly arranged by the parents with the assistance of a match-maker (sairikecho malo) man or (sairikechi mali) woman, who were the important link between the parents and the prospective bride and groom and these match-makers were also considered professional and very influential persons. Once the marriage was finalized the match-maker was handsomely rewarded with money, sarees and expensive gifts.


Although arranged marriages are still prevalent, parents and potential brides and grooms resort to advertisements, marriage bureaus, matrimonial websites, if they have not already found a match for themselves as in “love-marriage” where mutual consent is of primary importance and parent’s consent becomes secondary. I personally know of many a successful marriage through websites like Several matrimonial websites exist like etc. For a more focused search on Mangalorean partners, offers paid advertisements. You can also advertise on Catholics in general can also place advertisements at a nominal cost of Rs.100/- in the print edition of the ‘Examiner’ (a catholic newsweekly) by the Archdiocese of Mumbai.

Parents also discuss their aspirations with close relatives and friends to find suitable match for their children. Even in today’s fast-paced lifestyle where young boys and girls have far more opportunities to socialize, yet it does become a challenge to find the right match when marriage is being considered and although many would shun arranged marriages they do exist in modern society. Today’s match-maker can even be from one’s own peer group and not necessarily an elderly professional match-maker. Match-makers are rewarded even today but more often a saree would suffice. For those using matrimonial websites, would be worthwhile considering a premium subscription which would give better results in finding suitable matches.

Restrictions in Match-Making


Age of the girl had to be between 15-18 and the boy some years older. Boy had to be taller than the girl. Inter-caste marriages were not allowed and generally the marriage partners had no say in the matter. When I say Inter-caste here I am not referring to  Christians and non-christians but between the caste “Kuli” system retained by the Christians at the time which was the same as they had in Goa prior to their migration to Mangalore (Canara). The four castes were, in order of hierarchy – Brahmins (Bamons), Charodis, Shudras and Gaudis. So a Bamon boy was obliged to marry a Bamon girl and a Charodi boy had to marry a Charodi girl and so on.  However, later on it was acceptable for a boy of a higher caste marrying a lower caste girl but a lower caste boy was not accepted by a higher caste girl. Marriage between cousins was prohibited and so was marriage between members of the same parish which implies that marriage between members of the same village was also not allowed as these members who were attached to one parish felt like close relatives. Also a boy could not marry before his sisters and a younger sibling could not marry before the elder.

Several proverbs illustrate facts on choosing the bride and groom:

  1. Chedun adijai pioshilem, Ani jot adijai lagshilem

Meaning …

“A girl should be brought from a distant place; But a pair of bullocks should be bought in

the neighbourhood”.

  1. Avoik polovn dhuvek vhor, Dud polovn moshik vhor


“Take the girl after looking at her mother; And take the she-buffalo after looking at the milk”

  1. Dubleanchem chedum adizai, Grestak chedum dizai


A girl should be chosen from a poor family and should marry into a rich family


In the literal sense these proverbs would be outdated but figuratively do seem true even today. Most of the above arranged marriage practices have now been given up. Girls and Boys now choose to marry in their late 20’s and early 30’s. Education, professional career development and compatibility of the partners is given more importance and parents generally are more liberal today allowing children the freedom to decide their personal choices. ‘Live-in’ partnerships before stepping into a more permanent relationship of marriage are gradually growing and being accepted by society, the reasoning being that the couple should “KNOW” each other before marriage.

Personally, though I wouldn’t grudge a live-in relationship, I do not agree to the reasoning, as no amount of “knowing” your partner would guarantee a successful marriage. Each marriage or partnership requires a tremendous amount of effort, compromise, adjustment, understanding, commitment, acceptance, faith, trust and respect from both partners. Even if you have known your partner for a day, a year or ten years, eventually compatibility issues would creep in and the bottom line would be how much one is willing to compromise and sacrifice in the interest of their family. In today’s day we feel sorry to see so many marriages breaking-down over trivial issues which can easily be resolved with a little bit of patience and understanding. From my experience I have seen that eventually the difficult phase is overcome, patience and humility being the key.

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References: Severine Silva and Stephen Fuchs & Victor D’sa, S.V.D.: The Marriage Customs of the Christians in South Canara, India


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