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.