Arranged marriages are seen as the chosen method of selecting a life partner in India. According to statistical studies, till even two decades earlier, more than 80% of marriages in India were arranged. The process of arranged marriage can be defined as a matrimonial service that is promoted by the elders in the family through the use of extensive social and family networks. Sometimes, third parties known as matchmakers were also engaged for hunting down a “suitable match,” be it a bride or a groom.
Context of the traditional Indian arranged marriage
Some factors that went into making a suitable match were caste, creed, educational qualification, social status, financial standing, prospects of career, religious ethnicity, etc., Arranged marriage was also not considered as alliance between two individuals but as an alliance between two families. In the traditional context, arranged marriage was more of a practical analysis of specific criteria of matchmaking rather than emotional feelings or love.
In traditional society as well as some parts of contemporary society, love is cited to be the weakest basis for marriage, and love marriages were thought to be a challenge to the hierarchy of caste, consideration of class, creed, and a form of disrespect to society and class. However, increasingly, the youth of India as well as other emerging nations have shown a shift towards love marriages. Matrimonial websites have contributed a lot towards working towards the modern hybridized concept of ‘arranged love marriage,’ which provides an optimum blend of arranged marriage as well as love marriage.
Matrimonial sites and their functions
There are currently more than 12 different major matrimonial websites operating in the Indian subcontinent, and most of their architecture and modus operandi bear remarkable similarity to each other. The matrimonial website defines the notions of the modern version of arranged marriage in the way that the matrimonial profile is created and the way the website is used to encourage negotiations in marriages. From the time a user signs up to take the services of a matrimonial website, they are motivated to provide information which in the conventional sense defines whether a suitable alliance can be struck up with another candidate for marriage.
Holding on to traditions
Most of the required information is collected during the registration process. Generally, questions like “who are you creating the profile for i.e. self, son, brother, sister, daughter, relative, friend, etc.,” is asked and the answer to this question is often compulsory. This concept of matrimonial negotiation being spearheaded by someone other than the person concerned is a hallmark of an arranged marriage, and in this sense matrimonial websites have held on to the fabric of cultural norms.
Mixing modernism with tradition
One area where matrimonial websites have worked against the traditional cultural fabric is the allowance for dating. Many parents allow their sons or daughters to meet eligible partners selected via the matrimonial site to see whether they hit it off. Sometimes young men and women take it upon themselves to use the matrimonial websites to choose potential partners with whom they can interact before selecting someone whom they really like, for marriage. In this way, matrimonial websites have not only encouraged the Western concept of dating but have also limited the dating pool to only partners meeting the required criteria.
Time and resource savings
Matrimonial websites have resulted in considerable time and resource savings when it comes to bride and groom hunting. Geographical boundaries have ceased to exist for a matrimonial website provides a uniform electronic platform that can be utilized by all. The hassle of hiring a third party negotiator, sending in print ads in newspapers and feelers through social networks is also eliminated. Discretion is another primary advantage of matrimonial websites, and mostly families want to keep the marriage negotiation process un-discussed until something concrete has been finalized.
Matrimonial sites have successfully managed to blend together tradition and modernity and have helped to let several couples find their perfect partner. The future looks rosy for the virtually negotiated marriage!!