Marriage trends among young are changing: Shaadi.com founderBy Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS
Thursday, February 24, 2011
NEW DELHI - Trends are changing in the great Indian wedding bazaar. Gone is the rebelliousness of the 1980s and the 1990s, when the young and carefree defied parents to follow their heart to the altar. In place is a thread of reason and unanimity with family over choice of lifemates, says Anupam Mittal, CEO of the country’s largest matrimonial site shaadi.com.
“I remember there was this big rebellious streak in the eighties when kids wanted to marry outside the family and community. While the families wanted to choose, children wanted to follow their hearts,” Mittal, often hailed as one of the world’s most successful matchmakers, told IANS in an interview.
But in the last few years, eligible youngsters and their families are not at loggerheads over weddings any more, said Mittal.
“The trend among the young and eligible is ‘I would like to exercise my choice as long as my parents are happy’. The realisation that ultimately it is also as much the family’s choice as those tying the knot is dawning. People are waking up to the fact that marriage is much more than simply falling in love,” Mittal said.
Last week, shaadi.com was recognised as one of the most innovative companies of 2011 by Fast Company, US, one of the the world’s leading progressive business media branding platforms. Shaadi.com, which ranked 39 worldwide, was the only Indian company to make it to the list, Mittal said.
Mittal founded the matrimonial site in 1996 to address the changing needs of matchmaking among young upwardly mobile Indians and global Indian diaspora.
The site currently has 20 million users, of which 70 percent are Indians based in the country, company statistics say. The site claims 1.3 million success stories, and is used by 65 percent men and 35 percent women.
Enumerating on the transformation in the pattern of Indian weddings, Mittal said “horror tales about weddings were few when compared to a decade ago”.
“I can tell you from my own life. Seven of my dearest friends have had inter-religious weddings. And they are very happy, along with their families. The matches are fixed with more maturity of thought and reason. More issues about weddings are being made inside people’s heads than what we see on the ground,” Mittal said.
Citing another trend, Mittal said: “Nearly 30 years ago, the emphasis in matchmaking for a girl was a well-settled man.
“The man’s family looked for an ‘innocent’ girl. The 1970s was dominated by the idea of a fair, innocent girl. Nearly 12 years ago, it changed a bit. The emphasis was on height and physicality. Innocence was replaced by good family background - good upbringing,” Mittal said.
In the last seven years, the “requirement has completely changed”, he said.
“Compatibility has become more important. Compatibility includes chemistry and broader interests, which means shared interests, doing the same things, hailing from similar family backgrounds, spending time in the same countries and understanding each other,” Mittal said.
He also said “increased education and greater awareness about bonding” had brought about the change in mindset.
“Affluence can be detrimental. It can often lead to incompatibility. However, certain other things have remained unchanged. Like, religion and community are still key to matchmaking, especially among Indian Brahmins. The Indian matchmaking market shows a very interesting mix of old and new values,” Mittal said.
He said his company was constantly reaching out to its audience to identify the changing social trends which governed the process of matchmaking.
A recent Shaadi.com survey found that the two most eligible singletons in the country were MP Rahul Gandhi and Bollywood actress Esha Deol.
“It is a constant challenge to keep service relevant to the changing world. With the fragmentation of technological platforms, shaadi.com has to cater to those who are technologically-savvy. We have created an array of matchmaking applications for those who are logged on their desktop computers, cell phones, BlackBerries and iPhones,” Mittal said.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)