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According to one survey in the 1990s less than nine percent of all newlyweds have had premarital sex and less than a third do it on their wedding night. Although the male may escape social repudiation if such liaisons become known, the female may suffer lasting damage to her own reputation and bring dishonor to her family.

Further, if a woman is sexually linked with a man of lower caste status, the woman is regarded as being irremediably polluted, "like an earthen pot." A male so sullied can be cleansed of his temporary pollution, "like a brass pot," with a ritual bath.

I didn't think I would necessarily go through with it.

In the old days parents had more say over their children's future spouse than their children did.

Prospective mates generally have the power to accept or reject the choices made for them. Within this relationship, bride-givers are considered inferior to bride-takers and are forever expected to give gifts to the bride-takers.

The one-way flow of gifts begins at engagement and continues for a generation or two.

It is estimated that 80 percent of all marriages in South Asia are arranged by the bride and groom's parents.

Many future spouses in India have never met one another before they are introduced by their parents.