Evolution of Marriage Bureaus In India
If you thought arranged marriages are a thing of the past, think again. Even today in the technology driven society, career oriented GenX, finds it more convenient to go in for arranged marriage. The trend of love marriages, a range till very recent time has slowly slipped in the background.
Here HT city takes a look at changing pattern of the institution of marriage and the mediators traditionally involved in the process.
With a strong belief in Kundllis and Gotras, almost every family belonging to the older generation had a family Purohit (priest). Besides their regular prayers and havens, the main task of these priests was to suggest prospective matches for the children when they reached marriageable age. As the Purohits had a wide base in a number of families, they fixed a meet between the prospective in-law families, after pronouncing the kundlis satisfactory. This tradition was popular amongst the upper middle class families.
Another way through which marriages were fixed up was through the Nai and Nain (erstwhile beauticians), who also acted as mediators. Sharing this information, 76 year old Vimala, said, “Going from house to house, this class of barbers and beauticians knew the entire family history. Making suggestions for prospective matches, they were the major guiding force in getting two families together as they were trusted to have all the important information about the families.” Both upper middle and lower middle class families followed this practice.
These mediators, (today’s marriage bureaus) played an important role especially in the lower middle class families. Collecting data from several families, they came up with the names and photographs of the best possible matches that they could provide. If one of their suggestions clicked, the families then took it forward. Back then; these mediators were paid in kind.
Gradually the trend of priests and barbers started declining. Mediators were still in demand, and they had siren from being mediators to owners of ‘Marriage Bureaus’. It was in this time that the influence of Bollywood and western showed their effect and love marriages became a growing force in the city. Talking about the change, Mahesh Gupta, owner of a marriage bureau operating for the past 30 years in the city, said, “Love marriages slowly stared gaining ground and arranged marriages took a back seat. The footfalls visiting us lessened but not by a very remarkable degree.”
Endorsing this view, Palak Sharma, a 40-year old entrepreneur, shared, “Being highly educated it was important to find the perfect match who understood my limits and did not expect me to be the perfect Bahu. I was lucky to discover my soulmate in my college. We had a love marriage and have lived a happily married life.”
Gen X has moved one step forward. Marriage bureaus have turned into matrimonial advertisements in newspapers and sites have come up. Mahesh Sharma owner of a matrimonial website for the past 17 years, the site has fixed many successful marriages. Talking about the trend today, he said, “Arranged marriages have come back into fashion. Also, even though the tradition of pandits has come down, applications such as Kundli have given people the opportunity to get an online Kundli within a matter of minutes.”
The tradition of marriages has come a full circle albeit minus personal touch which was a major force earlier Priests today are left with the sole task of performing pujas and havens. Pandit Shiv Shankar, third in this family of pandits shared, “My father had been involved in the task of fixing marriages. However, today not many such demands come my way.” In a similar manner the tradition of barbers and beauticians has given way to modern beauty parlours and hair cutting saloons, forcing the decline in the tradition.
Today, convience and saving time has become a priority, even in arrange marriages. Hence the rise of online and dotcome marriages are in vogue, where the girl and boy have the freedom to meet online, get to know each other and finally get married, presenting a unique mixture of traditions with technology.