India Mass Wedding

An Indian bride laughs as she is taken in a horse driven chariot during a mass wedding. Pic: AP

Proliferating websites guarantee romance  

 India’s thriving US$83-million online matrimony bazaar welcomed a new member to its club recently – a portal christened www.Iitiimshaadi.com. The service will cater exclusively to the alumnus of the world’s 100 top educational institutions including blue chip universities like Harvard and Yale who are searching for the perfect marriage partner.

Iitiimshaadi is just one of a growing number of online matrimonial websites that have upended traditional players like astrologers and pundits who had for centuries dominated the market by fixing matches between Indian families based on caste, religion, social/ economic status and horoscopes, changing the face of Indian romance. The presence of these agents is still vibrant in rural/semi-urban areas though where internet penetration has been slow.

The portal is only one of the 100-odd that dot India’s booming online matrimony market. www.Iitiimshaadi.com’s owner Ajay Gupta, 51, claims to have more than 1,800 registrations already. He says he has also successfully connected 120 people after his team filtered the “right candidates” from a pool of resumes to help subscribers find a suitable spouse.

India, often seen as the land of arranged marriages, is experiencing robust growth in the online matrimony business. The industry started to gain traction around the turn of the century when private internet service providers (ISPs) were allowed to determine tariffs for services in accordance with guidelines laid down by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. This allowed websites to charge for their services and expand their repertoires.

At present India has 100 million internet users but as that number skyrockets, more than 2,600 wedding portals are expected to mushroom by 2020 according to an industry estimate.

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