Is it a "good" custom? A bad one? I cannot say. What I can say is that my own view of Indian marriage changed forever at 17. My Sociology textbook informed me that there are eight types of marriage mentioned even in that problematic text, Manusmriti. Among them was "gandharva vivah" - what we call "love marriage".
This was a revelation. Personal choice in matters of matrimony had always been presented - by most grown-ups, friends, Hindi films, television - as something alien. Love, premarital sex and divorce were talked of as "modern" or "Western" ideas. To hear a lot of right wing religious and political leaders, it would appear not much has changed in two decades. (Witness the moment in the documentary film Morality TV Aur Loving Jehad, when a man declares that in Indian culture, there is no space for conjugal love).
It was through Sociology textbooks (particularly MN Srinivas' India: Social Structure) that I woke up to the fact that love marriage is very much part of our culture. That book taught me the basics of marital norms in different Indian communities.
Some encourage marrying cousins or uncles. Some encourage marrying a brother's widow. Some tribes mandate a courtship period. Others have a provision for the bride or the groom to live with the other's family, to test the waters and experience the family environment before the marriage is solemnised. Some tribes pick out a mate after just one glance during a community fair or at a dance.
Read the full article here: http://www.dailyo.in/politics/child-marraige-natha-pratha-divorce-dowry-women-consent-inheritence/story/1/4683.html