“Hello, I’m Sima Taparia from Mumbai.” And that’s how Sima Aunty, a Mumbai-based matchmaker, entered not just the houses of many prospective brides and grooms, but most Indian homes through the OTT platform, Netflix.
Once the Indian Matchmaking series aired, nobody could keep calm. People were hooked and came out with all sorts of takeaways, right from thoughts about the “aunty gaze” and boys who wanted to marry (someone like) their mother, to ‘compromise’, ‘flexibility’ and ‘adjustment’ being the cornerstones of a successful marriage.
But on the flip-side, the show ends on a high with the cutest couples celebrating growing old together, most of them having been married for over 30 years—all arranged. There’s something to be said about the outcome of arranged marriages being no different, less or more successful than love marriages. But it’s not the ‘arrangement’ that spurs up cringe moments. It’s the colour bias, Oedipus complex, and the gender bias that has most people rolling their eyes. Before you dive in, watch this video of some typical Desi Aunty Taanes that you might have already heard IRL (in real life).
So, how do you navigate your way through an arranged marriage set up, a practice that’s still extremely prevalent in most parts of India? Let’s explore.
What Indian Matchmaking Gets Wrong (& You Don’t Need To Succumb To These Expectations)
In Taparia’s world, Indian Matchmaking shouldn’t be called out for conserving Indian stereotypes because:
- Marriage is all about families and caste is super important.
- All Indian sasu maas want slim, trim and educated Indian girls for their betas.
- Casteism, sexism and colourism is normal in the Indian families, so you need not go into a long rigmarole. All you need to do is jot down a few points in the form of a bio-data and hand it out to the guy before he decides if you’re worth ‘settling’ down with.
- Marriage is more like an accomplishment and a necessity for young eligible bachelors in India.
- There’s no love for you if you’re divorced, especially if you have a child; so grab what you can get and be thankful! Sorry, Rupam.
What Indian Matchmaking Gets Right (& You Should Be Prepared For)
Sima Aunty would be the happiest right now because there are certain points that she got bluntly right, which is a mirror to our culture and we can’t deny it no matter what.
- “It will be difficult to find someone who is well-educated, successful and someone who satisfies both mother and daughter.” Yes, Aunty really said this! But truth be told, it’s not uncommon for parents to have different parameters when looking for a match for you than your own. A classic is that women are open to men in creative fields, while parents prefer something more traditional because they believe it provides respect and steady income. So, engineers in, photographers out!
- Akshay, the typical Indian mamma’s boy says “My mom is literally what I want to be looking at in a wife”. And don’t be astonished when you find that this is more commonplace in India than you’d be willing to accept. Sons are close to their mums, just as daughters are close to their dads. You just need to gauge whether it’s healthy affection or whether your mum-in-law will always play third wheel in your marriage.
- Fellow matchmaker Geeta expresses that women have to be more emotionally giving. It’s of course, not compulsory to be this way however if you are, don’t consider it a sign of weakness. Biology is loud and clear about the fact that women are built to be more emotional, caring and protective. Embrace it instead of apologising for it or convincing yourself you’re cowering down to convention because you’re too emotional. You do you; No explanations needed!
- Astrology is like an insurance in successful Indian marriages. The first thing which happens in arranged marriages is actually the matching of the kundalis. And, it’s not just parents, but many individuals looking to get married believe it too. Some may believe in numerology, some tarot, some face reading, some in the power of crystals and stones; one shouldn’t judge when it comes to the matters of faith. You may disagree, but don’t view people who do as regressive or superstitious, or silly. That’s simply not your place.
- Marriage in India is a million dollar industry and the checklist both the parties have is longer than Sima Aunty’s grocery list. This is just a fact!
Finding A Trust-Worthy Indian Matchmaker Online/Offline
Finding a trusted matchmaker in India can be a task of its kind. What one must ensure before anything else is:
1. Vet Their Profile
Do a research on prospective matchmakers you are willing to consult for your arrangement. A critical and a thorough investigation will point out if the matchmaking bureau is legitimate or not. Ask for references from friends and family; they will always provide trustworthy reviews.
2. Meeting In Person
Try finding a consultant who is based in and around your locality or is at least, in your city. This would make meeting in person possible, which would further enhance your understanding of how the matchmaker works.
3. Seeing Previous Client List
A look into their previous client base would enable you to figure out the kind of families they are used to dealing with, and the caliber of profiles they have. It will also help you understand their success rate. Often, you can connect with ex-clients online and ask for reviews.
4. Observing Tonality
The greatest takeaway from a show like Indian Matchmaking would be to understand and observe the tonality to see if they’re a good fit. For example, when Sima Taparia sends Ankita to a fellow matchmaker Geeta, the latter shocks Ankita with her outlook on women as inferior and their ambitions discountable in the whole matchmaking process.
Things You Should Be Upfront About In An Arranged Marriage
Whether it’s with the family or the boy, there are just some conversations that need to be had. For example, in the Indian Matchmaking show, Vyasar struggles with telling Rashi that his father was an ex-con and has been to prison. And while most of us may not have skeletons of this nature in our closets, being upfront, open and honest rather than embellishing the truth or hiding your expectations will always serve you well in an arranged marriage.
1. Be Honest About Physicality
“Lambi, gori, educated, good cook”, that’s how most parents end up framing matrimonial profiles of their daughter. When it comes to men, they do focus on appearance and a mismatch of expectations would just make your meetup a lot less pleasant for both parties. Be honest and own your physical appearance, domestic skills (or lack thereof), and also, your expectations from the physicality of your prospective partner. Many women too, prefer tall men, or may not be open to someone who is balding. You need to do as you expect and be honest right in your profile and with your picture.
2. Educational Qualifications & Career Goals
Educational qualifications are almost built into the bio-data template of matrimonial profiles. Specify yours and elaborate on where you’re working, your role, and your interest in continuing to stay employed/turn entrepreneur in the long-term. This helps you sort through families who would prefer a stay-at-home bride willing to be a housewife.
3. Long-Term Goals & Family Planning
Discuss your larger goals with your future partner when you first meet. Talk and conclude whether your partner’s goals are realistic and whether they align with yours. Detailed long-term planning is not absolutely crucial but there are certain views which need to be cleared right from the beginning. For example, their views on having children, willingness to relocate, preferences of living in a joint family or separate, desired standard of living, etc.
4. Family Background & Openness
Arranged marriages in India are generally carried forward after a background check of both the families are done. You should be vocal about whether you want to marry outside your caste, whether you are strict about your religion, if there’s any sibling rivalry, sibling remarriage, divorces, and even simple things like what your food habits and vices are—nobody would like to get judged for ordering a mimosa on a date like Nadia was on the show.
5. Income & Finances
Financial stability is very important to some people. And there’s nothing wrong with that. So talk about the preferred income bracket of your spouse, your income bracket (if you’re working), and whether yours would be a single-income household or both of you would work (both before, and after kids). Also, discuss views on financial planning like savings, investments, and be clear about any previous loans or debts.
6. Old Relationships
It’s better you have a clear understanding of where your future spouse currently stands in terms of old relationships. Talk about it as openly as possible and do not miss out on yours as well. Tell them if you have had a prior troubled relationship or why you parted ways. At the end of the day, you do not want to enter a new relationship with baggage.
When looking to break up relations with your previous partner and wondering how to sort your finances? Watch this video to learn about financial rights post divorce.
Online Matchmakers In India (Apart From Sima Aunty)
These top three online matchmaking sites account for about $100 million in India and provide users with various criteria like community, location, age, salary, education, height, weight etc. If you are looking forward to finding a match, you can explore these websites:
Shaadi.com is probably the first name which comes to everybody’s mind when thinking of arranged marriages. With over 35 million verified success stories, it provides the world’s leading matchmaking services.
Just like Shaadi.com, BharatMatrimony is also a premium choice for many Indians today. With millions of success stories, Murugavel Janakiraman, the founder of BharatMatrimony also met his wife online via his own matrimonial site.
This matrimonial website is owned by Info Edge and is the third largest online Indian matchmaking service provider. With 100% profile screening and strict privacy controls, Jeevansathi.com is also becoming one of the first choices for many Indian users as well.