Bride Wanted : Matrimony , astrology and more...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Whoever said , "Marriages are made in heaven, consummated in earth" shall modify it to "Marriages are made in heaven, consummated in earth and facilitated by /", going by the current marriage market.

Apart from nappy changing and taking care of Lil General like a good mommy, I've been keeping myself busy with another activity - bride hunt for someone in the family. Arranged marriages is still the conventional way of getting married in India and a huge project in itself that starts with the to-be-groom or bride giving their formal consent to start the "search" process.

We got the go-ahead in February and since then we've been splitting our hairs trying to find the perfect the bride. Perfection has been as elusive as ever. The search-bride algorithm has way too may parameters to match that even Google would find intimidating.

Horoscope copies : Anyway, so we saw a good day (based on planetary combinations, I'll reserve that for another post) and made the first horoscope copy. Now again there were too my choices on the format of horoscope and bio data - what to reveal and what not to - traditional yellow page horoscope or new age jazzy PDF formatted horoscope to be sent by e-mail, to state property or not, hand written or computer printout. With each one having an opinion based on their exposure to IT, it took 4 weeks to settle on a set of hard copy/soft formats. Different versions evolved and we settled on a yellow page handwritten horoscope and computer printout for Bio-data. Writing the bio-data took more thinking than making a professional resume. By the end of 1 month, we had 50 copies ready for distribution.

Distributing the horoscope : The next traditional/logical step is distributing them to friends and relatives which was relatively easy. In olden days, marriages were fixed this way. If the horoscope didn't match for your son/daughter, you would pass it onto someone else who is looking for a suitable groom/bride their son/daughter. This way the chain went on until it culminated. There were also middlemen called brokers who facilitated the search process professionally.

Now, sites like and have become brokers. And it is good business for these sites with the number of registered users running into tens of thousands. You enroll yourself in these sites and get an opportunity to find a suitable bride/groom from 1000 other registered users. The choice/exposure for the bride/groom of finding a compatible person is high unlike in traditional search where the control lies with parents. So I enrolled my brother and was overwhelmed for the first week or 2 by the profiles of girls, spending days browsing through hundreds of profiles. It dawned upon us two weeks later that making your profile interesting with salary details, a digitally altered picture, scuba diving/racing as hobbies and Japanese/Mexican cuisine as favorites invites lot of "interests" whereas a boring/predictable one with watching tv for hobbies and sambhar/rasam, mom's khana for favorite cuisines evinced hardly any interest. After a lot of experimentation and no success we decided this was futile and reverted to the traditional parent-centric method of advertising - in national newspapers' - Sunday's matrimonial column.

Here comes the interesting part. The day the ad appeared in the paper, phone calls started coming in as early as 7:00 a.m. and this continued for weeks later. I filtered some of them based on the time they called like 2:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. The response was overwhelming with over 100 horoscope/enquiries coming in by post/courier and e-mail.

Some of our experiences ....sample this ad taken from the "Bridegrooms wanted" column last week's Sunday Hindu Matrimonial section :
Iyer, Vadamal, Athreya, Puratathi 26/180 SWE, MNC Rs.3.5 pa
Show me the money, baby : The first question the girl's family is interested in knowing is how much the boy earns. You would hardly find a ad of a boy without his CTC mentioned. And the girls are upfront in stating their demand - that the boy has a flat has about Rs. 5 p.a. in CTC and go to the extent of checking their payslips. Money rules!

I have it all, I want more : The number of B.E / MBA educated girls is on the increase with an Engineering College opening up in every street corner. So a B.E BITS Pilani/REC girl wants only a M.S. boy from Wharton, no less.

Amrikaa - the forbidden land : We were interested in an alliance and we contacted the girls' parents this Sunday. The lady began the conversation with "Where does the boy work?". Mom replied, "He is in U.S on a project." Bang came the reply, "Sorry, mami (as in aunty), my daughter wants the boy to be in Chennai as she works there."

Yet another conversation with a lady in Coimbatore lasted oly 10 seconds. "Sorry, no US boys", she said. Gone are the days of the American dream of a decade ago when parents thought if their daughters got married to a boy in the US, it was a dream come true. Now, parents prefer their children to be married and settled here. Yet another face and consequence of the booming Indian global economy on its society.

A fairly good percentage of girls are career oriented and are to willing to relocate even between Chennai/Bangalore. According to me, this should be a decision taken by the boy/girl and not the parents. Even this morning there was a girl who asked if the boy was willing to relocate to Jabalpur or stay home while she worked. All the feminist talk is fine but please give me a break. The Indian society hasn't progressed so much so that dad are willing to stay home to take care of the baby or has biology changed so much that dad can give birth to kids yet. Flexibility is almost nil in the 500 odd that I have seen so far.

SWE, MNC - no longer an endangered species : How could I have known before the matrimonial ads that SWE stood for "Software Engineer". SWE is so common that you will be surprised to find one who is not ...So the father of a girl told us, "Anything but software. I have enough of this species in my family already and I'm sick and tired of their lifestyle, so please give me a break. They have it all - flat, abroad vacations once a year, car etc etc and they also have a sick body that complains of back ache /head ache at 35 years..." Yes, he did say in so many words. I'm not exaggerating.

Age/Height : There was this gentleman who called one fine morning and said "My daughter is born on such and such date." I was confused for a minute. I replied, "Sir, I think she is older than the boy." He replied, "So what these days, they do. I don't think it should be a problem.". I replied, "But it is for us. So, no, thank you.". Thank God, he didn't cite Abhi-Ash as an example.

When horoscopes become horror-scopes : Now we've gotten this far. Someone who is ok with the pay package, where the boy works and what he does, and the next logical step is to see if their horoscopes match. This is when horoscopes become horror-scopes. You can find a Doctor who treats Alzheimer's easily but getting an astrologer has become so difficult. Finally when you do get a good one and when humans arrive at a consensus, their planets don't. Either there are too many planets in the same house or one in the wrong house or a gentleman called mars/rahu in the 7th or 8th house, or the star of the boy/girl don't see eye to eye. This part has gone beyond my comprehension. Too many astrologers around with too many interpretations to make us go mad and their business thrive.

Even if everything else is fie, all goes for a toss in this stage. What is frustrating is when the girl's side says horoscopes match and the boy's side say it doesn't. Didn't the astrologers goto the same school?

Astrologers and GOD strike a deal : And then they strike a deal with GOD and ask people to break 100 coconuts in front of a temple that is in a remote village inhabited by 50 people where the only way to go is by a bullock cart. Alright, I'm stretching it too far but you get the point. Under the name of "parikarams", astrologers make a huge list of what do on from Monday morning to Sunday evening, which temple to visit that would set your stars right!

Complexion : please enlighten me : Now comes the part when appearance matters. After seeing the 800 odd pictures of girls on, I've got a complex. Most of them call themselves 'fair' and are beautiful. No doubt, we are still a prejudiced society. Fair always means superior to us - a hangover of the Raj.

Only when you see the pictures close enough will you realise the brightening tricks.

The stakes are high. Who makes the first move? The rules of the game are clear. These are unwritten rules. Even if everything is fine - family, appearance of the girl, compatibility, horoscope matching, the guy's family has to wait for the girl's to make the first move. If you make the first move, then it is perceived as there is some shortcoming with the guy :(

The hunt is on. Times have changed. It is a woman's era - they have it all and want more. With men's parlors mushrooming, their appearance also matters.

Pandas are more easily available on this planet but suitable Indian brides are becoming an endangered species. Lets preserve them.