The tradition of arranged marriage is a very old system, but the pressures of modern life are forcing India’s urban elite to rely on professional marriage brokers. For the brokers, business is truly booming. The Hindustan Times reports:
As family sizes shrink and divorce rates skyrocket, family members and friends are apprehensive of making introductions for the purpose of marriage. Matchmaking…has thus given birth to the professional marriage brokers. The concept of the matchmaker in the Indian arranged marriage scenario is age-old. He has existed for decades as a family ‘pandit’ or ‘shastri’ who informed families of the existence of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes within the community. No longer are marriage brokers dhoti-clad pandits though, they are cosmopolitan and business savvy and they are all set to take advantage of the Rs.250 billion [$5.09 billion] Indian marriage market.
In the business of arranging marriages in the new India, brokers wield iPad 2’s and dress in fashionable suits. Professional firms have arisen, often backed by generations of experience. Many firms have in-house detective departments that perform background checks and astrology analysts who check compatibility between prospective couples. Others firms are divided based on the social class of their clients.From an increase in the average marriage age to an emerging emphasis on the nuclear family to a growing tendency to evaluate prestige in terms of education rather than wealth or caste, matchmaking is hardly the only cultural tradition challenged by India’s hectic economic and cultural revolution. But even while modernity, westernization and demographic changes have tested the traditional family unit on every front, Indian culture keeps its distinctively unique flavor.Like funerals, weddings never go out of style:
“This is a very good business,” says Pankaj [Shastri, a marriage broker],“There is never a down cycle. Whether the economy is good or bad, people are always getting married. If you think about it, it is probably the most stable business in the world.”
But there is a difficult problem:
On average there are more women “on the market” than men. In the 30-36 age group, there are 15 women to one man. In the 26-30 age group, there are 7 women to one man. In the 20-25 age group, the ratio changes and there are 2 men to one woman.
Even the marriage brokers could be in trouble if India’s gender ratios continue to change.