Just for Women
Home      |      Editor’s Note      |      Events      |      Careers      |      About Us      |      Contact Us      |      Sign In with Jfw      |      Gallery

The Virtual Groom Hunt >
Back to previous page

Contrary to modern beliefs, arranged marriages are not passé. Even today youngsters, no matter how modern in other aspects, are still going the old-fashioned way and leaving the groom hunt to their parents. Parents, on the other hand, have learnt to capitalize on cyber assistance, writes Krupa Shah

There is something so déjà vu about arranged marriages. No matter which community it is, in the north or in the south, the process is almost always the same. As their daughter comes of age, parents begin to network a little more seriously, attending more weddings and social gatherings, dropping a reference here and seeking an opinion there. Families and relatives emerge as indispensable movers and carriers of eligible news and matchmaking. Once the parents come across suitable profiles, the horoscopes are matched and astrologers consulted. If the groom hunt crosses that stage successfully, the daughter is introduced to the potential groom, the couple begins talking to one another and if they like each other then nuptial celebrations are called for.

Assisted Marriages

With the rise of technology and matrimonial websites, the marriage network has almost entirely shifted into cyberspace with a few relatives here and there for backup. “In fact, sometimes it is difficult for relatives to find the kind of matches we want because we have moved out of the community and my daughter would find it difficult to adjust to the traditional way of life. So we have to look at other ways to find grooms,” says Renuka, who is settled in Chennai but is originally from Patna. Marriage consultants and agencies have helped streamline the groom selection process by identifying similar needs in two parties and pairing them.

In the age of the nuclear family, assisted marriage has made joint families even more redundant but in certain situations it is only a good family network that saves the day. While technology has certainly saved time and energy by returning customized results in just a few clicks, many families are also sceptical about the accuracy of the information posted online. “There are several parameters that one has to fill up in any matrimony website right from caste, profession and salary. We came across a family through a community matrimony site and we also met the guy,” says Bangalore based Mithila, a final year college student. “Everyone was happy and we set marriage plans into motion. Luckily we had a distant relative who was acquainted with the boy’s family and we found out that he was in the process of getting a divorce and had conveniently not mentioned that on the profile.”

Making Virtual Decisions

For many people, online profiling for arranged marriages has become another stage of their lives like childhood and adolescence. “Whenever I go visit my cousins in other states, they tell me they came across such and such person online and they describe the family and the job. They ask me if I have uploaded my profile online and whether I have browsed someone’s profile. Everyone assumes it as a given,” says Chitra, a designer. “We don’t find it unusual anymore that we look at the profile of a stranger on a screen and then use a phone or the internet to connect. There is very little physical presence involved. More and more people are able to take crucial decisions about who they want to marry without even spending as much as a day in each other’s company,” finds Nandini, a relationship counsellor.

Taking to Technology

Even the older generation has taken to technology to replace the oft tedious process of groom hunting. “The only thing my mother has learnt when it comes to the internet is to play solitaire and log on to matrimonial websites. She finishes her entire day’s work, puts on her glasses and patiently browses through profiles one by one,” laughs Pallavi, a human resource professional. “When matchmaking happens through relatives, it can be a slow affair sometimes taking months and often if nothing comes out of it then you end up feeling dejected about the time wasted. With online profiling, you can see so many guys at the same time and choose instantly. Everything is very convenient these days,” says Pallavi’s homemaker mother.

In some cases, youngsters struggle with the cyber groom hunt in totally different ways. “It is tedious to keep track of all the guys that I am communicating with! Sometimes I am talking to two or three simultaneously and remembering their names, professions and locations can be such a challenge. Mix ups can be embarrassing in such cases. Once I got confused about the professions of two potential grooms and ended up congratulating the wrong guy for his research work in the field of medicine. He was a software engineer and must have thought me queer in the head, to say the least,” says Kritika, an IT professional.

Making the moves
Even though popular culture has it otherwise, there have also been cases where young women have gone against the grain to show interest in wooing the guy. The case of Vinita is relevant in this respect. Although all of 27 years and with a couple of failed relationships behind her, Vinita did not trust herself to find the right guy to settle down with. She entrusted the responsibility to her parents who then proceeded to shortlist a few profiles on a matrimony website and showed her.
When they were able to zero in on one particular profile that they both liked, instead of taking the case across to the boy’s parents, Vinita decided to take matters in her own hands. “I messaged him and he replied. We decided to chat with each other to see how we got along before our parents got involved. We initially started talking sporadically then we were in touch every day for weeks and months. We chatted for six months or so and we realized that we got on pretty well,” says Vinita who tied the knot with her beau a few months later.

Unlucky arranged marriages
Although some people hit it off with the first person they contact in the course of the groom hunt, there are many who are not so lucky. “We came across a potential match on a website and contacted him by phone,” says Deepa, a 26 year old engineer from Chennai. “At first, our families seemed to get along and his mother used to call my mother frequently. I even chatted with the guy via webcam a couple of times although it was not enough to know whether he was Mr. Right or not. Eventually he came down from the US for a couple of days and his mother asked us to fly down to their place in Hyderabad so that we could meet up. We spent so much and went there on such short notice and in the end it fell through. The irony was that the guy liked me but his mother did not.”

Just as one can be unlucky in love, one can also be unlucky in the arranged marriage ritual. Although it is easy to show interest and take things forward, many people do not follow the proper etiquette for refusing a match which is as simple as making a call and saying no. “After the meeting, they just did not get back to us even though they knew we were in the same city for a few days,” adds Deepa.

Fairytale endings
In many cases online, assisted marriages have been nothing short of a fairytale. 24 year old Amrita was shown a profile by her parents and asked to chat with the guy to see if they got along. She was a little apprehensive of the concept of arranged marriage and the entire idea of getting to know a stranger. “He was in the US and I was here so I had never met him face to face although we used to skype and chat,” says Amrita. “We were in touch for almost a year. By the time he decided to come down we had grown quite fond of each other and knew each other well. Just as my instincts had told me, when we finally met it all went swimmingly well.” There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you are marrying the right guy for the right reasons and that both families are okay with everything, she adds.

Stalker online

Among the horror stories connected to online assisted marriage is the case when you contact a person who is not really interested in marriage but has put the profile just in order to be able to meet people and probably stalk them. “We contacted this guy and initially he seemed nice so we exchanged phone numbers and other details. We talked a couple of times and I met him too. But slowly I started feeling uncomfortable as he started assuming that we were going to get married and became very possessive. It became difficult for me to go out along with my friends and my father had to drop me everywhere,” recalls Anjali, a 22 year old BPO employee. “He used to spam my Facebook wall and sent me a dozen messages and called me frequently. It was a nightmare.”

While matrimonial websites do contain all kinds of profiles, there is no technological shortcut to do a background check on a person. “Often asking for proper identity papers, address proofs and pay slips can be embarrassing to the other person, but at least you know that he is a genuine person and not a random stalker,” opines Anjali.

Like everything else, groom hunting has its own pros and cons especially in today’s age of technology. Yet, the trend of finding a husband has undoubtedly changed from how it was even two decades ago. With people on the move and following their careers to unknown cultures and countries, it is perhaps small wonder that technology has become indispensable in our personal lives and relationships as well. Although marriages are said to be made in heaven, the tricky process of the groom hunt is certainly an earthly affair.

*Names changed on request to protect identity

Go to Top
Current Magazine
Current Magazine
Share your cherished memories, inspiring experiences, short fiction or your favourite recipes with our readers.
Write In