Love can be arranged – local couple shares their story

Arranged marriages were then and still are popular, especially among Indians

It was not love at first sight but it is a love that has stood the test of time.

Vijie and Neville Reddy’s marriage was arranged by their families 25 years ago. A quarter of a century of memories and two children later, the couple still live happily and say that their deep love has developed through the years.

Arranged marriages were then and still are popular, especially among Indians.

Typically marriages are arranged by parents, grandparents or other relatives.

The controversial arrangement differs from forced marriages, because both bride and groom are consulted and each has the power to refuse. Both parties meet in a family setting or privately before the engagement and marriage.

The Reddy’s love story was arranged by Neville’s mother and Vijie’s aunt.

“My aunt and Neville’s mother knew each other. We were both about 18 at the time and Neville’s mother told my aunt that she was looking for a good girl for her son.”

After a few days Vijie said her aunt phoned her mother to ask if Vijie would be interested in “meeting a boy”.

“Marriages were arranged mostly to make sure that a woman gets into a decent family.

“Things were different in those times. My parents had three daughters and no sons. In those days you could not keep grown daughters in the house, they had to be married off. Sons could stay unmarried for as long they wanted.

“If a family or a boy liked you they would contact your family with a proposal. The boy and his family would then visit your house. I had already completed my matric and was working at a local bottle store at the time.”

Vijie agreed to meet Neville and crossed her fingers that he would not waste her time. Her family had already received two unsuccessful proposals before this.

“The guy before Neville showed up drunk to my house. I really hoped that Neville would be a decent guy and he was. When they visited I dressed traditionally and made them all tea.

“We all sat together in my lounge and Neville’s mother did all the talking for him. She said he was a decent, quiet boy who did not drink, smoke or go out late at night.

“I still tease him about those words because not all of it was entirely true,” Vijie said laughing.

Vijie and Neville Pillay on their wedding day.

The couple were then left alone to get to know each other for a few minutes. They took a walk in the garden and realised that they actually did get along.

“I did most of the talking and Neville just kept quiet. I think I spoke too much, but I had to or else we would have been in silence.”

Adding to the conversation, Neville said he found Vijie to be attractive and interesting.

After a few weeks of talking over the phone and some supervised visits, they were asked by their families if they wanted to be married.

Once the go ahead was given it took two years of saving and planning before the big day.

“This gave us time to get to know each other. It was not like marrying a complete stranger.”

During that time Vijie practiced her cooking to make sure she would be a good wife and Neville graduated from college and started work.

“We had a traditional Hindu and Tamil wedding because I came from a Hindu family and Neville is Tamil.”

Vijie moved into Neville’s house with his parents and two sisters.

“We lived in his parents’ outbuilding, which was strange at first, but I always felt welcome. Slowly we got use to living together. We were best friends before we fell in love. You can learn to fall in love with someone. I had my first child two years later and my second five years later.”

The couple believe that arranged marriages are more successful than love marriages.

“Families are more involved and there’s a sense of responsibility. You do not just leave someone when things do not work out, you fix things. We have had our ups and downs through the years but we never go to bed angry. We live by the saying that getting married is just the start, staying together is the progress and working together is success.”


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