Draped in a gold rimmed saree, fifty five year-old Saraswathy lights an oil lamp in front of the sandal-clad deity. Tip toed, she rings the temple bell. It is an every evening routine. Her prayers have been the same for five years. She is hoping to see her son settled, with a homely girl from the Nair community. The poojaris, the grey haired gang of religious men gathered beneath the banyan tree and even the stone goddess knows what Saraswathy wishes for. So does her son, Mithun, who works as a software engineer in Chicago.
Mithun, who leads a carefree life in a different time zone, dreads calls from home. It is an emotional blackmail, he confides. “Amma’s calls begin with a sob and move onto inquiries, whether I am living in with some foreigner? But how will I blindly marry some girl she suggests! It is to sort this that we decided to register in a matrimonial site,” says Mithun, who has just fallen in love with a girl he met through a matrimonial website. Thanks to skype, they have long video calls and love sparks illuminate the air. Parents and kids having conflicting opinion isn’t a new fad. It has been so since Lailu-Majnu times, but what is interesting here is how matrimonial websites act as a mediator. A virtual slab between two generations. If you think of it, aren’t these websites a dating platform, where you get to browse snapshots and chat with prospects online.
In May 2012, 536 Malayalis registered in communitymatrimony.com according to the details provided by Krishnan Menon, Branch manager, Kochi. “Almost 70% of the profiles, find their match from within the website,” says Krishnan, who claims he has seen several happily-everafter marriages.
Oily haired brokers, with a leather bag clutched under their armpit, bag brimming with smiling faces, are now a closeto- extinct race owing to these websites. Brain drain has indirectly burnt a hole in their purses. Finding a groom/ bride from the same community in a particular patch of land has turned impossible. Most fly off after graduation, prospects are spread across the globe and brokers no longer seem to catch butterflies in the net by knocking door to door. To keep up with the changing dynamics, parents now stick their head into monitor screens and children take advantage of being tech savy. And the search continues.
In Kerala, where values and traditions are weighed in gold and respect is superior to love, children don’t want to go against their parents. Toronto-based banker Ram who has found his dreamgirl through such a website, has quite a lot to say, “These websites help in connecting globally, especially for those settled abroad. I live in Canada, it surprised me how most thought it to be a “cold” country, perhaps where Santa Claus resides!”
However, it wasn’t an easy hunt and took him two painstaking years to finally find his bride. His experiences were mixed initially. Many men vouch that women these days carry too many unrealistic expectations. He recollects, “I emailed this prospect who is a director. The response I got was a long email rambling on and on as to how she sees life, and what she wants out of it. My first reaction after reading that email was “Thanks, but no thanks” coz all I could read was “I”, “me” and “myself””
Often what you see, is not what is on offer. With jasmine buds in her tresses, shy, stooped eyes and dupatta over her head, she might appear as a synonym for demure. With expensive glares, leather jacket and spikes he might be mistaken for a broad minded prince charming. But appearance can be deceptive, especially when it comes to matrimonial profiles. Conduct a survey to realize that the first thing most mallu guys aspire in their bride is fair complexion! Sreeja Raveendran has sharp feline eyes, a seducing smile, silky hair that unfurl onto her shoulders and a voice that is sure to lure any Adonis, but she discloses the rejection she faced due to the complexion criteria! In a land where guys fantasize about Bipasha Basu, wonder whether is it just parents who stick to the gori bahu concept? “There is a column in the matrimonial profile for complexion. Dark, wheatish, fair, medium fair, very fair.. it goes on. Guys actually compare your matrimonial profiles to Facebook and Linkedin to confirm the nuances. Maybe they should introduce a shade card column as well,” she giggles.
Whether you meet your life partner in a boring convocation party or in a matrimonial website, “where” never really matters as you slide your head onto his shoulder and the credits roll.
Parinita Krishnan says she had given up on the sites after a few not-so-pleasing experiences. Every time, she says, it would turn out absurdly humourous. “I can write a book on the guys I met. They were all so peculiar and strange in their own ways. I would occasionally check the site and agree to chat with someone who I found reasonably interesting. But the alarm bells would ring soon, and I would give it up,”she recollects.
However, Parinita finally did end up meeting her knight in shining armour on tamilmatrimony.com. “Now I wouldn’t ever dismiss these sites. You got to be patient and very lucky,” she smiles. Wedding bells ring in the backdrop.