love and marriage in a Sri Lankan Muslim community: toward a reevaluation of Dravidian marriage practices



I argue that structural and transactional models of Dravidian marriage practices cannot adequately account for the variation in mate selection in situations of arranged marriage practices exhibited among the Sri Lankan Muslims of Kutali. The inadequacy of these models is an outcome of three interrelated problems: (1) the assumption of a normative model for marriage; (2) a dichotomous conceptualization of marriage practices that divides them into love and arranged marriage categories; and (3) the absence of romantic love as a valid motivation for mate selection. In this article I show that villagers use a polythetic model for marriage in which core symbols of marriage category types are manipulated to serve as figure or ground depending on situational contingencies. Second, I show that love can be accommodated to an arranged marriage model. [arranged marriages, love marriages, Sri Lanka, love, core symbols, foreground, background]