Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Online matrimony: a few surprises

That's a screenshot from popular online matchmaker

So far so good. HT reports that "online matrimony in India is becoming one of the fastest growing businesses, with a growth trajectory of as high as 90 per cent annually in some cases".

According to an Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) report on Matrimonial Search... in the fiscal year 2005-06 these services garnered Rs 58 crore, in the current year the amount is expected to cross Rs 98 crore. There has also been a surge in member subscriptions from 4 million in 2004-05 to 5.5 million in 2005-06. Membership is estimated to grow to 7 million users by the end of this year.

Several of these sites have received funding and now advertise on TV. Along with wider choice and more control to the actual bride/ groom than the traditional route or parent-centric newspaper advertising, some sites claim to be offering additional services such as profile screening. Not sure how they do this - and is it for the premium memberships only?

That said, my sole experience with online matrimony was registering a profile for a cousin whose parents were like, "Chalo yeh bhi try karte hain". But online matrimony is something you have to take charge of yourself. Responses started poured in but my cousin was painfully shy and did not wish to trawl through the humongous number of emails. I mean, she'd rather someone else did the dirty job for her.. which really does not work.

Online matrimony is a project just like offline matrimony. It requires considerable time, energy and capacity to reject/ accept rejection.

Another friend who got divorced some time ago put up her profile on a few of these websites. Her complaint is that guys are way too 'chipku' for her liking. "You exchange a couple of emails and a few phone calls and next thing you know the guy wants to fix a date to get married", she says.

After one marriage that ended painfully, she would rather get to know someone a little better than jump into another potential disaster zone. But the guys in their 30s who would respond to her profile are in a hurry to 'settle down' and don't seem that picky!

Of course the opposite attitude seems to prevail on 'dating' sites. Most guys on those sites are looking to have a good time ie get sex and do not hesitate to say so in their very first email. As if.. that turns on women. Especially when it's done with complete lack of style.

An interesting experiment was carried out by HT's Brunch supplement a few Sundays ago. One of their staffers registered two profiles on a dating website. One was an 'adventurous, fun loving, 'wants to live life to the fullest' type' and the other a more staid description.

Profile 1 was flooded with response (the sex variety) while profile 2 got barely a trickle. And a male journalist who registered his profile got.. absolutely no response.

Reminded me of my experience with starting India's first dating column back in 1994. 'Saturday Date' was a column I started in the 'Metropolis on Saturday' which featured profiles of young professionals who wanted to meet interesting people, but not necessarily get hitched right away.

The column only featured 4 profiles at a time - many were friends who were persuaded to try out something new. Response mechanism for the guys was simple: they printed their telephone numbers. For the girls, respondents had to write in, c/o the newspaper's address. I would actually screen them - chuck out the 90% rubbish that came in and hand over just a few decent/ interesting ones (rarely did you get both together!) to the girl in question.

And yeah, in the line of duty I too went on a couple of dates. Got bored out of my skull... but I guess someone may have found someone. And now, with technology enabling a far higher degree of pre-meeting communication, surely the 'success rate' is much higher!

The biggest problem
Back then, and even now, the success or failure of a dating/ matrimonial site hinges on one simple fact: how many girls are registering?

I think the 'open-to-dating' women have enough choices in real life, when they are in the college-age bracket. The trouble starts when you finish your education and into your second job by which time you may have a limited social life and little opportunity to meet new people. That's when they turn to matrimonial websites.

So dating sites suffer from an awful girl: guy - I think 1: 10 would be a fair estimate. Matrimonial sites, according to IAMAI stats have a gender ratio of 69% male, 31% female, which is far better.

But surprisingly, 37% of registered users on dating sites are between age 18-25... so I am guessing they are actually using it for dating purposes. But perhaps the 'matrimonial' purpose of the website cues that 'I am not that type of girl/ guy'. As in I may eventually wish to marry you.

What I did not understand however was this startling statistic:

Marital status
63% Unmarried
31% Married without kids
25% Married with kids
4% Divorced

Um... iska kya matlab? Why are only 63% of the people on a matrimonial website UNMARRIED? Yeh married with kids/ without kids ka chakkar kya hai?

And even if there were married types looking for someone to fool around with - or marry again - wouldn't they be more likely to masquerade as being 'unmarried' in the first place? So where and why this data is captured remains unclear.

The only plausible explanation is that these are uncles/ aunties/ didis/ jijajis of prospective grooms and brides. People like me, searching for other people. But still.. it creeps me out.

Will someone from the matrimonial industry please explain?


  1. Anonymous9:07 PM

    perhaps they have lost their husbands/wives and have kids.

    the 1:10 ratio sucks. really :P.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Hey - good food for thought... cant help mentioning, one grammatical error in the 4th paragraph, 4th line- Responses "started pouring in". And the comma missing in a couple of places.

    But i think ur guess is as good as it can get - maybe it is about people who are relatives of prospectives of grooms and brides...

    and as pravin put it the 1:10 ratio really sucks.

  4. "..
    b) Many, many young people are meeting through the internet. While dating sites have a pretty sad ratio of girls: boys (about 1:10 seems to be accepted standard!), matrimonial sites boast a healthy number of girls (and many profiles appear to be registered by the girl herself and not the parents).

    Unlike the traditional matrimonial classifieds the online version is much more egalitarian. And builds a certain comfort level. The girl and boy may exchange some emails or have chatted on messenger prior to meeting in person....."


  5. Anonymous3:53 AM

    i was thinking of matrimonial sites, although in a completely different situation a few days ago..wrote about it here..

  6. as someone who has used matrimonial sites, i can say that yes, a couple of them really stand out IF you are a paid services member... Then you can personalise responses and so on..
    I guess the success factor of these sites also stems from the fact that it allows you exactly as much privacy as you need, for example, you can decide whether you want to display your photo, or you want to upload a photo but password protect it, and so on.

    And yes, there are a lot of people on those sites there for anything other than matrimony. Its like the proverb 'to find a good melon, you must see a 100' !

  7. Blame it on laziness and technology that the old age system of reference through family and friends no longer exist as far as the present generation is concerned.These portals sound like selling a product with vital information so that one can at lesiure chose or throw accordingly.Offcourse once hitched one can always introduce his partner as....met on the net!
    Understanding a prospective grooms or brides family background,education,life style cannot be done on the net neither afterwards once hitched.The social circle,family friends and relatives play a very important role in deciding a partner.Lot of you might not agree and find me outdated but the fact remains simple that we do not get married to our wifes/husband but to the entire extended family of the spouse.Not that this method is 100% foolproof but sucess rate is quite high and the safety net is spread wide.

    Joydeep Saha

  8. Hi Rashmi,
    I started reading your blog recently(about 2 months ago) and I should I follow your blog regularly, I enjoy reading them because your thoughts are well put, since I reside out of India your blog is like place where I am insync with the young crowd of India. Man I feel older seeing the current trends.
    Anyways it was funny you mentioned about the Saturday Date in Metropolis on Saturday(MOS I used to call it). My father had introduced me that paper and I became big fan,I used to look forward to saturday morning when I would walk or cycle all the way to the railway station to buy that.
    To cut the long story short me and one my friend actually called up this guy on the saturday date, he promised to bring along a friend as well so we went on a double date. We had a nice lunch and became good friends. Though we lost touch with each other after a year or so I should say I did enjoy the friendship. Your article brought me back memory of those days, thanks! and you see we are connected in some way even before I started reading your blog :) The world is indeed a small place

  9. Anonymous11:22 PM

    often people looking for brides online are told to get a life offline. wonder why is that?

  10. There's clearly a mistake in the numbers presented below:

    "Marital status
    63% Unmarried
    31% Married without kids
    25% Married with kids
    4% Divorced"

    Since the above categories are all mutually exclusive (disjoint), they should not be adding up to over 100%.

  11. hi rashmi, discovered your blog today. i have read your articles earlier and have enjoyed them. i work in an ad agency and had pitched for a marriage portal account. so your post was interesting and informative. yes i too was piqued at the HT statistics! do check out my blog - a mash up of advertising, brands, culture, creativity and new media -

  12. Online matrimony is really serious business for everyone involved...But in your rather long article you have missed the key parameter 'What is the % of profiles in matrimony sites that is created by self and not by parents or cousins.' My guess is its only around 25-30% through some random browsing I did.

  13. well i knew guys lied about their maritial status..
    but 13% are confessing of being married... strange

  14. Although we call it online matrimony, the sites have realized that they need to beef up their offline presence in order to grow. is opening Shaadi points and Bharat Matrimony is also opening new branches.

    If uncles, aunts and parents create the profiles, some of them will not be comfortable with technology and they would need guidance on how to create a good profile which can attract attention.

    Another common complaint is the unusually high number of spelling and grammar mistakes. If the matrimony sites offer to do spell check and grammar check for a fee, it can turn out to be a huge hit as this might result in increasing the responses.

  15. On line marimony sites has become money spinners . It is very little help to honest searchers. they are left of track by these matrimony sites,demanding payments ,but no results leaving searchers to run after them. their should be some regulators for these sites

  16. Rashmi,

    You are dropping a lot of numbers and stats without mentioning its source.
    I have my doubts about their authenticity....

  17. Just found this new site. They have merged the profiles from more than 10 leading matrimonials sites. Very easy parameterized search is available there.

  18. Anonymous2:59 PM

    That is really a cool business and very successful in india for the last 2 to 3 years Brad

  19. It has become a business than helping the brides and grooms to select their the partners. These columns are spinning money. they ade not reliable nor get matching pairs of the indivisual.

  20. I think there is a MAJOR dearth of "good guys" on these sites and I speak from experience. Also for some of them - soliciting sex even on these sites is not an issue.

  21. Anonymous3:25 AM

    I've actually been doing quite a bit of research on this topic and the changing views of marriage in the Indian culture. Thank you for touching upon this important topic in your blog.
    I'd like to find out what role the Internet and matrimonial websites have in this shift from traditional to non-traditional views on arranged marriages. If anyone would like to tell me their views on this topic, please go to:
    and fill out a survey.

  22. Anonymous3:25 AM

    I've actually been doing quite a bit of research on this topic and the changing views of marriage in the Indian culture. Thank you for touching upon this important topic in your blog.
    I'd like to find out what role the Internet and matrimonial websites have in this shift from traditional to non-traditional views on arranged marriages. If anyone would like to tell me their views on this topic, please go to:
    and fill out a survey.

  23. india online search

    Here's some useful info on india online search
    which you might be looking for. The url is:

  24. I agree with you about spending time, but there are a few other things that piss people off. I for one hate it when people do not respond or do not use the spell checker. I just made a whole list here

  25. Anonymous12:25 AM

    Same old corruption and sleazy business minds have tarnished the online business boom in India. Most of these big name matrimonial sites -, "steal" profiles from community oriented non-profit traditional marriage bureaus like tejaswini. It is disgusting to see such dirty business practices from and who claim to have trusted and verified profiles. Most of the traditional marriage bureau owners who are middle aged and have built their business through trust and sincerity have been cheated and robbed of profiles by these online matrimonial sites.

  26. help to search for profiles in Indian matrimonials & wedding services. This site also covers Kerala Matrimony, Punjabi, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Muslim Matrimony, Bengali Matrimony can find ur perfect match through our site.
    best wishes

  27. hello sir! good day! i am from the philippines and i have seen your blog, would you also state the different good effects that matrimonial websites have given you because this is my study in one of our requirement in english to make a term paper. thank you very much, i am waiting for your response!

  28. I have found one new matrimonial web site called, they say its 100% FREE and you can write email message also without pauing any thing on the site. My question is that is that true and if it is true then how they will be generating money from that to support the business ?


  29. I have found one new matrimonial web site called, they say its 100% FREE and you can write email message also without pauing any thing on the site. My question is that is that true and if it is true then how they will be generating money from that to support the business ?


  30. Hi,
    Well this is a nice Blog on most important facts. I am happy to read this. But I am looking more and more info. Please add some thing more. I shall link from my blogs to this blog to day itself.
    More than 2000 searchable profiles are there in the data base and since this is free nothing for you to lose. So act now and start to find with a suitable person to share your life.
    How are you? Are you looking for a free and absolutely apt matrimonial web site to register your profile for free as well as to search and find apt partner to share life. Here is matrifind matrimonial for you. Free to join, free to search and find apt person for you. Whole service is free. Logon to
    Later come and search for suitable profiles. We are going to promote this new service heavily so millions will login to the site all will see your profile free. So act now and visit the site to register now.

  31. Hi!

    I found this caste based website for brahmins....! Cheers!

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