Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

“Prefer Saturn 7”

July 23rd, 2009 · 3 Comments

An eagle-eyed reader, obviously aware of Microkhan’s longtime obsession with all things Sri Lanka, recently turned us on the marriage-proposal ads in one of the island nation’s leading papers. They make for fascinating reading, in part as evidence of how closely first-generation immigrants remain tied to the marital practices of their homelands; the bulk of ads seem to be placed by parents seeking partners for their sons and daughters abroad. Our hunch is that there’s a real fear that kids who leave the nest will end up marrying Westerners.

We’re also puzzled by the ads’ emphasis on astrological compatibility. Now, let us come right out and state our prejudice here: we absolutely, positively do not believe in astrology. While we can understand how earlier societies might’ve thought that distant stars played some role in Earthly affairs, we’re just not buying that there’s any validity to such claims. But ad after ad makes very stringent horoscope requests: “Horoscopes compatible with seventh house Ravi, Shani or Rahu may respond,” or “Prefer Saturn 7 or the 8 houses in horoscope.” And these vestiges of tradition persist even as the importance of caste diminishes—note the large number of ads that declare that any caste is welcome to apply.

Then again, such strong emphasis on astrology shouldn’t really surprise us—not in a nation where a prominent celestial diviner was just arrested for predicting political upheaval.


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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Captured Shadow

    I think the website just covers the ads that list an email, which biases them toward the overseas crowd. Sri Lanka residents would expect a paper letter from other locals.

    I like how the women are described as fair, or medium complected, never dark (if they are described at all) and how assets as well as income are openly announced.

    The caste listings are curious too. Almost always listed for Buddhists, sometimes for Hindu Tamils, I haven’t seen it listed for Moors (Sri Lankan for Muslim) but occasionally Christians will list it. Even ads that say it is unimportant will sometimes list it.

    Horoscopes are an interesting phenomenon. Like religion, except there is no belief required. You were born at a certain place and time, so your fate is determined. They are my favorite counter argument to use when someone suggests that their must be some value to ____(name your traditional practice here)_____ because people have been doing it for so long.

    I view astrology as weakly analogous to torture in that it does not usually get to the truth, but does produce something that someone wants to hear, often enough that they keep doing it, even in the face of contrary evidence.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Captured Shadow: I’m just amazed that it’s seemingly been decades since anyone’s tried to tie astrology into something we’d remotely perceive as science. Or am I wrong? Can’t recall seeing too many journal articles trying to explain how Jovian movements influence human behavror. But maybe I’m just not reading enough.

    Many thanks for the tip.

  • Captured Shadow

    People commonly associate the full moon with strange behavior, even in modern America. There might be some research on that.