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Matrimonial websites get specialised

October 25, 2007

As online matrimonial matches are arranged matches, it is uncommon for prospective grooms or brides to seek someone of another religion or social class…although there are increasing number of profiles which say ‘caste no bar.’ Talking preferences, why, there are sites like lifepartnerindia.com which let you shortlist a partner by the city of your choice in no time! And another called matrimonialsindia.com which lets you make a quick selection based on the occupation you prefer for your future mate. I guess in the absence of any knowledge about the temperament of the person whom one is marrying, it’s natural to ensure a common background at the very least.

What’s interesting is that some niche matrimonial websites have sprung up in the plethora of shaadidotcoms and bharatmatrionials.

A site that intrigues me most is idontwantdowry.com and well, the name says it all. It was launched last year and is doing fairly good business today. The owner claims that it is the educated professionals who form the majority of the clients, not the poor middle class who find it difficult to meet dowry demands.

I can believe this as these are the people who might risk going against tradition and might defy the older generation. The only hitch is that many people prefer to use nick-names on their public profile as they are afraid of upsetting the community! Which just shows how strong the social sanction is for giving/taking of dowry. Infact some men told Satya Naresh (owner of the site) that they were afraid of using their own name as it might affect their marriage prospects! People might think that something is wrong with them if they said they don’t want dowry! Men are so routinely sold in the marriage market in India that they and the society fail to see the ignominy of it!! This site’s 6000 profiles (approximate figures) may seem small compared to the profile listings on other matrimonial sites, but this is because for the first 6 months the site was struggling. It’s now over a year old and business is picking up.

Another interesting site is Desimatch.com, started by the Bharatmatrimony people. It is meant for the South East Asian diaspora. They have cleverly avoided mentioning the word ‘marraige’ and have instead positioned themselves as an online dating and friendship site, not a matrimonial site….a site where you can find a date…or a mate.

Matrimonialtoday.com is the only free site I came across and it’s unique feature is that it accepts only profiles which do not have any preferences based on country, caste or community. I am not sure how this site is doing though.

Another one of it’s kind site is secondshaadi.com (no connection with shaadi.com). It is indeed unique as it specialises in getting together those looking for a second marriage. The site is run by two management guys (Vivek Pahwa and Ankur Warikoo) who decided that there was big opportunity here…considering India’s climbing divorce rate. And apparently, about 60 percent of the profiles come from small towns! Guess it’s the guys and girls in small towns who have to suffer a claustrophobic society which frowns on dating and mixing of any kind. And these guys will not have parents looking out for them either…certainly not with the same gusto as they did earlier…and in any case choices become limited.

Another great idea is that of positivesaathi.com for HIV+ve people. It’s a new site and parts of it are still under the construction. Well, I hope they change their introductory page as its rather gloomy and that’s an understatement! Luckily it’s only the introductory page…once you press the ‘enter’ button, you get to a site that is clean and bright. A site like this is sorely needed as the social pressure to marry is so high in India that many +ve people marry anyway, hiding their health status from prospective partners. And on the other hand there are honest +ve people who may never find partners. Trust an Indian to think of such an idea…we are indeed the best matchmakers anyone can ever find. I wonder what we will think of next…!

There are also religion based sites like muslimmatrimonial.com, and they claim that it’s the world’s No. 1 Islamic matrimonial portal.

Mainstream matrimonial sites
Shaadi.com is the oldest matrimonial site going. A recent study by juxtconsult has revealed that Shaadi.com is the most user-friendly website from India. It’s ranking in all “India” categories is the 8th in the world in terms of number of visits. One of it’s unique features is that the site gives you your money back if you do not get a positive ‘contact’ within one month.

Bharatmatrimony.com, another popular matrimonial portal, is the only matrimony site that has grown in 2006-07 (study by juxtconsult). The site also claims to have the maximum number of educated ‘profiles’ and 39% of Bharat Matrimony users are from the metros. The site is mentioned in the Limca Book of Records for the number of documented marriages online.

There are other sites such as Jeevansathi.com, a venture started by the naukri.com people and Simplymarry.com by the Times Group.

There are more…sites like lifepartnerindia.com and matrimonialsindia.com and probably others I don’t know about. Basically these sites offer similar features and some have live help via chat. All have a few free features and some paid options. The bigger sites offer services in different Indian languages from Assamese to Bengali to Malyalam.

How safe are these sites?
Bharatmatrimony.com has some safety tips, some of which I am reproducing here. They are rules which apply to all online relationships:

  • There is no guarantee that the profile is authentic so you need to do the checks yourself
  • Involve your family
  • Don’t reveal too much too soon
  • Watch out for people who ask unwanted questions or are vague about their answers.
  • Do not meet in private secluded places
  • Do not meet alone at all until you know the person really well. If you’re meeting for the first time, try meeting in public places like coffee shop. Keep your friends or family informed before you set out
  • Beware of people who ask for money
  • Never discuss financial matters with someone you just met and hardly know
  • Report abuse if you find a member’s conduct inappropriate

Bharatmatrimony offers the free feature of a “Matrimony Stamp” wherein your name, age, residence, education and occupation is checked. If you get this done you get priority listing in the search results. There is also something called VeriProfile, a paid service which you can avail of. It is offered by ONICRA (a credit rating organization). You can ask for other profiles to be verifed as well.

(Photos are screenshots of the sites by me.)

Related Reading: Arranged love
Beware of cyber stalking
Why internet marraige bureaus are thriving in India
Most popular websites of the world

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2007 9:31 am

    You write pretty informative article. I am not too sure about the niche sites’ objective. They will probably grow like any other small marriage bureau across India.

    The mainstream matrimony websites has been able to create a parallel industry to the “matrimony classified” business of newspapers. It would be interesting to know, though I am not too sure whether information is available:

    1. How many marriages really happen in India every year?
    2. What % of these “marriages happens thru news paper classifieds across the country”?
    3. Is this marriage classified business is still a bigger business than “marriages thru online matrimony websites”?

    These are some relevant points to ponder.

  2. October 25, 2007 10:40 am

    I haven’t checked the matrimonial section of the Sunday classifieds in ages but I would imagine they aren’t doing very well. I’m a major proponent of online dating/networking sites, provided you have enough know-how to eliminate the weeds from the cream of the crop.

    How does a typical newspaper ad read?

    “22, Muslim, M. Sc, Very Fair, Very Pretty, Very Pious, earning 5 figures. Father retired doctor. Seeking Citizen/PR US/UK/AUS boys earning $80K+. No brokers please.”

    Ignore the morality of that ad is for a second – but how much can one possibly learn from that ad? That’s how 90% of all ads read! This is where detailed online profiles score a big plus. People claim the Internet is packed with liars and con artists but my take is that a little creativity with good ol’ Google (and stalking havens MySpace/Facebook/Orkut/Hi5/Xanga/LiveJournal and good old blogs etc.) can reveal quite a bit about the average Internet-friendly person – and I see this as a plus. In First World countries, First Name+Last Name+City opens up a nice world of Public Records. (I have seen feuds on Internet Forums turn real ugly once personal information got out)

    I see online matrimonial sites as a good thing – I don’t agree with arranged marriages but for those that do, expanding your horizons and looking for options beyond your (limited) social circle is a step in the right direction. There are way too many good people out there and limiting yourself to ‘my Dad’s friend’s son/daughter’ is getting old.

  3. October 25, 2007 10:43 am

    And oh, slightly unrelated but I like how this comic captures the essence of online liaisons.😀

    http://xkcd.com/300/

    (Remember to hover your mouse pointer over the image to read the ALT-TEXT)

  4. October 25, 2007 10:53 am

    Nita: Interesting but don’t you think BharatMatrimony’s MarathiMatrimony, KeralaMatrimony etc sites are a bit retrogade than say, Shaadi.com’s universal openness?

  5. October 25, 2007 11:33 am

    Mrutyunjay, thanks. Yes indeed it would be interesting to get that data and one will have to find out whether any sort of research has been done on the subject. About point number 3 my gutlfeel is that classifieds are used more by people who are not net savvy, but several online sites now have a classified section too. So I think this two will work in conjuction in the future. Just classifieds by themselves as Nouman pointed out are a dying breed.

    Nouman, yes online gives a lot of flexibility…why one can even see videos of the person.😉 And yes every foot print left on the net can be put to good use…

    Shefaly, in an arranged marriage it is natural to look for people from similar backgrounds. For example a person who is from a vernacular background will find it difficult to adjust to someone who speaks English at home and who thinks in English too. There are internet surveys which have said that a good proportion of internet users in India access sites in their own languages as they are not familiar with English. There is nothing wrong with that and in fact the chances of being happy is if you get someone from a similar background. After all in a love marriage what are the chances of a marathi speaking vernacular guy marrying a girl who is westernized and speaks perfect English? They would not click in the first place.

    btw Nouman, nice link.🙂

  6. October 25, 2007 2:44 pm

    I am sure there are people out there reading this comment, so here is a multi-million dollar idea (ideas actually):
    1. Doctormiya.com: get a doctor husband, US or UK based.
    2. Nursita.com: get a nurse wife: US based
    3. Bloggerbarbad.com: for bloggers who have lost out on social life and are certified losers.
    4. Nosoapstuds.com: guys who don’t watch TV available as mates.
    5. Virtuallyours.com: Get a virtual marriage, migrate to a developed country, and then part ways platonically. Intact virginity guaranteed.

  7. October 25, 2007 3:13 pm

    Nita:

    I was thinking more along the lines of dealing with changing the community/ caste system/ regionalism and their evils in India. Instead in the 21st century we are finding new ways to reinforce the system and to make it even more entrenched.

    Those who access the web for spouse-seeking can be safely assumed to be more educated than the rest of the population that still prefers real world interactions. If this is how the educated prefer to conduct their lives, then we can talk all we like about caste system in the blogosphere, and not a blind bit of difference can be made.

    If nothing the web affords people a chance to, well, take a chance. If they find themselves unable to communicate with someone on email, of course that possibility is eliminated right away. But very different people – from caste/ religion point of view – can find themselves getting along because of themselves not on account of their religions/ castes.

    I find it wasteful to not even try. Where is hope for love, eh, in this narrow-minded world?🙂

  8. October 25, 2007 5:27 pm

    Rambodoc.😆

    Shefaly, yes, it is possible to find like-minded people across castes and religions Even taking your caste and religion question one has to take into account the difference between arranged matches and love matches. Like minded people across religions and castes are coming together in love matches…and intercaste marriages are happening even in arranged matches as I mentioned with a lot of people saying caste no bar. In fact one site reported more than half of all marriages online to be inter-caste marriages so I presume people are choosing partners based on education etc. I had mentioned this in my post on caste.
    Plus, an online marriage bureau is a commercial site so I guess there will be few sites which will proclaim themselves to be sites which accept only those profiles which say caste no bar.
    At least there are no sites which are specifically geared to a certain caste, yes that would be retrograde, but there aren’t any such sites as far as I know. The fact that there aren’t shows that society doesn’t need them.
    The change has to come from the people and this change is already well on it’s way to my mind.
    One also has to keep in mind that arranged matches are traditionally traditional. The very concept of an arranged marriage itself is tradition. When people meet just 2-3 times in an overwhelming majority of the cases, making sure the background is similar is reducing the risk. That makes sense to me.
    p.s
    actually we don’t realise it but even we the liberal thinking english speaking form a caste of our own.🙂 in an arranged match we would prefer to go for someone from our own ‘caste’ so to speak. for example my neighbour’s daughter recently got hold of a doc from the UK (he is a punjabi) and she is a doc herself, although Maharashtrian. All done online. She wanted someone from her own ‘caste’ which means doctor. She is a brahmin and he is not. They met just once and the marriage is fixed. Before that it was all online.

  9. madhurisinha permalink
    October 25, 2007 6:54 pm

    Hi Nita,
    Like Nouman, I believe that online chat forums do unearth good matches. Two of my friends met their future partners that way.

    The important thing was that after chatting for three to four months, my friends got to know their partners very well (you know temperament and wavelengths).
    The marriages were inter caste in both cases and the family members were happy because they were tired of fixing matches for my friends.
    But as you suggested, since both of my friends were highly qualified, they married in the same ‘caste’.
    But then I guess people are interested in having their partners understand their jobs too.
    Like both my researcher friends spend long hours in the lab. So if their partners were 9-5 job types, they might not empathize with their spouses being away from home for long hours.
    This is especially true for women who have to spend long hours away from home like the doctor girl you wrote about.

    I think chat forums are a little better than online matrimonial services. At least you get to know the other person a little better.
    But the whole marriage business is so IFFY.
    I mean I can have a good friend but I will never know what type of husband he might make to another girl.

  10. October 26, 2007 7:52 am

    Hi Madhuri. Thanks.
    I agree, unless you live with someone you cannot know exactly whether you are compatible. In that sense even love marriages are the same. In fact there are some people who believe (not me) that whether you know someone for 3 months or 3 days, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Marriage is a risk anyway…. “iffy” as you put it!

  11. October 28, 2007 5:14 pm

    Just this week I wrote something about arranged marriages, to be frank with you, I am not sure about the idea of these websites, I guess many people are misusing these to find dates, and finally settle for some girl which their parents have arranged for them.
    I am still afraid of online relationships, and even chats for that matter, not really sure what people expect and what people want, then there is the problem of cyber stalking too, may be too much concentration on negatives has ruined it for me.
    It would be interesting to see how many marriages these websites have successfully initiated, and how many of them really worked.
    But hitech matchmaking looks like is here to stay

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