#Culture: Woman Builds A Board Game That Lets South Asian Women Dodge ‘Rishta Aunties’ To Avoid Arranged Marriage!
If you’re a South Asian woman, of marriageable age, and single, you were probably traumatized by the demands of matchmaking and arranged marriage procedures after watching Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking. Chances are, you’re looking over your shoulders constantly, ready to run every time your parents indicate finding a suitable boy. In the spirit of silver linings, playing this new board game in the market could be rather cathartic for you. A South Asian-American woman, Nashra Balagamwala, has designed a board game that lets women attempt to escape rishta aunties/matchmakers like Sima Taparia and everything that happens in an arranged marriage setup!
Frustrated by her own experiences while trying to dodge arranged marriage, 27-year-old Balagamwala came up with this cool idea of letting other South Asian women experience the shenanigans that come with being set up in one. From having secret boyfriends and a dusky complexion to being considered ‘ready for marriage’ if she can make round rotis, this game lets the players experience the whole regressive deal!
Also Read: #UnpopularOpinion: Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking Isn’t Cringey, It’s An Inside Joke For Those Who’ve Endured The Regressive Arranged Marriage Charade
So how do you play ‘Arranged’? Well, it sounds a lot of fun because the basic idea is to run as far away from rishta aunties as possible! How do you do that? By seeming undesirable AF to them. Players pick cards which have tasks like ‘getting a tattoo’, which can make you look like the opposite of ‘adarsh bahu material’. But it isn’t easy, because there are also cards that can give you qualities that are prized, such as obedience or good culinary skills! Balagamwala’s website grants a glimpse at what the game and its components look like. And the most amazing part is that the board looks like a wedding invitation!
How did Balgamwala come up with all these hilarious but totally true tactics in to avoid arrange marriage? Personal experience, of course, she tells Jakarta Post. As a Pakistani girl, she was expected to get married when she turned 20. A student of Rhode Island School of Design in the United States, the rishtas began lining up the very next day of her sister’s wedding. When Balgamwala returned home from her college’s winter break, her parents already had a prospect lined up for her to meet.
“I’d wear the fake engagement rings, or whenever an auntie was looking I’d pour an extra helping of food on my plate,” she said, as the matchmakers considered women who didn’t watch their figure to be less desirable brides.
Also Read: #Culture: Netflix’s ‘Indian Matchmaking’ Cast Reveals Their Side Of The Story. Is There Redemption For Arranged Marriages After All?
Balagamwala and her game have been featured in a documentary called ‘Gamemaster’ which follows the works of four game designers. And thanks to her newfound fame, it’s become even harder for her parents to find her a match for an arranged marriage because she’s managed to piss off all the aunties! Clearly, designing a board game about avoiding rishtas is the best way of looking like an undesirable bride! But she doesn’t mind.
“I’m hoping that with the game someone else will be inspired to be like, ‘No, I can break free too’.”
Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking has made one thing clear. While the basic concept of matchmaking or an arranged marriage is not a bad thing in itself, the regressive cultural values that dominate the process definitely drive the younger generation away. As it rightly should, because compromise isn’t always bad as long as it is done about the things that you’re okay with. In South Asian culture, the compromise and onus of being desirable and ‘sanskari’ often falls on the girl, whereas the guy is expected to be taking the lead.
It is indeed time to break rigid gender roles. And what better way to do that then through a gameplay that lets you have fun and teaches you how to run away from regressive and misogynistic people! I totally think I’d play this game with my single girl friends!