Being born and brought up at Kolkata, I was never really a part of the South Indian culture. Though I respect my native state of Andhra Pradesh, its rich heritage and an otherwise impeccable culture, there are certain customs that I have issues with. The prime amongst them is the issue of marrying your own relatives. A few years ago, my grandmother, being a woman of strictly traditional views, came up with the matrimonial proposal of my first cousin, Sanjay, for me. Sanjay is my father’s sister’s son. I have been seeing him since childhood and I have always viewed him as a brother. The very idea of marrying him was repulsive. Luckily, my parents could somehow convince my grandmother about the awkwardness of the proposal and stop her from negotiating further.
Marrying first cousins is a very common occurrence in not only Andhra Pradesh but in other States of South India as well. A more objectionable proposal can be marriage to your maternal uncle if agewise suitable. That means, a girl gets to marry her mother’s younger brother!
I don’t understand the rationale behind such match making but it is still widely prevalent in South India-even in the erudite class! You find highly educated people marrying within their close relatives. The question that can be uppermost in anybody’s mind is about the genetic health of kids born to such couples. Educated people like you and will reason out that the offsprings will have some kind of genetic deformity, but you’ll be surprised to know that most of these couples give birth to perfectly normal kids and some of them give birth to really brainy ones too.
In any case, I find marrying close relatives a highly disgusting concept. The only advantage of such marriage is that the family property remains intact.