New-age websites make love click as singles increasingly choose to find life partners online. Raveena Joseph on the trend

For years marriages were made in heaven and celebrated on earth. Over the past decade, an increasing number of marriages are being made over the Internet making it easy for youngsters to find a suitable match.

The Internet has taken over our lives enough for us to use it to find just about everything we need, including love. The funny thing about love, though, is that despite how universal the feeling is, everyone experiences it differently. While many are open to finding love by looking at a passport-size picture on a matrimonial website, after ensuring that all the social and economic requirements are met, many others think that’s just the new-age way arranged marriages are made in India.

For those whose notion of love involves getting to know the person behind the profile over many cups of coffee and probably a few dinner dates, the most used matrimonial portals might be challenging platforms to work with. The matrimonial websites of the 90s can’t cater to the needs of Indian singles anymore and there’s a new wave of matchmaking websites coming up to bridge the gap.

“We realised there’s a huge gap between how matchmaking is done in India and the aspirations and requirements of today’s singles,” says Rahul Kumar, co-founder of Delhi-based TrulyMadly.com. “The matrimonial landscape is changing. Now young people decide who they want to marry and parents only come in later for approval.”

“When we introduce you to someone, we also set you up on a date,” says Arundhati Balachandran, founder of just-launched Chennai-based matchmaking website, Urban Tryst. In a country where there is a lot of social stigma attached to dating, Urban Tryst throws in a surprise element like a free dessert or a game to serve as an ice-breaker while you meet to get to know a prospective match for the first time.

The founders of these new age websites have all either had trouble finding matches on traditional matrimonial websites themselves or have watched their friends go through the process. “I’ve been on more than one matrimonial website and maybe I’m still on some of them,” says Arundhati, highlighting how a lot of the profiles on these sites are inactive and inaccurate.

Parents of 20-somethings, in a spur of enthusiasm, often create profiles for their children on multiple matchmaking websites and leave it on even after their children have had children of their own. To make sure this trend doesn’t continue, the new websites ensure that profiles are created by the users themselves. “We ask the users to answer an exhaustive list of questions before they sign up and parents won’t be able to answer some of the personal questions,” says Rahul. While these websites insist that users need to be involved in their own matchmaking process, they have nothing against parents being a part of it too. “If a girl wants to bring her mother on a date and the guy is okay with it, we have no problem,” says Arundhati.

“We don’t do community-specific matches and that’s a big statement to make in India,” says Mandeep Kaur, founder of the self-funded venture Mumbai-based MatchMeCupid. For new age Indians who care less if their horoscopes match and more if their needs and values do, this new model of matchmaking feels more relevant.

It is not uncommon to come across your neighbour or someone you went to school with while browsing through matrimonial websites. “Most existing matrimonial websites are open platforms for voyeurism and that usually makes girls feel conscious,” says Rahul, who thinks it’s crazy to look through 300 profiles just to find one person.

To make sure that your personal information and your intent to get married is not on display for the world to see, and to narrow down your search, these new-age websites either have a built-in compatibility software or a matchmaker who will only put you in touch with those with whom you are most likely to hit it off with.

Credibility of the profiles available on matrimonial websites is one of the biggest concerns for anyone who finds them interesting and wants to send them a message. From keeping the police on their feet with matrimonial fraud cases to increasing the client base of private sleuth services, matrimonial websites have done it all. To address this concern, the new wave of websites coming up is going the extra mile to ensure that no woman claiming to be tall and slim turns out to be a lanky man. iBluebottle, a Gurgaon based matchmaking website, has a stringent verification process that everyone who signs up for the website must go through.

“70 per cent of our clientele are business school graduates,” says Akhilesh Sharma, the founder. As a website that aims to cater to professionals who have limited time to invest in the matchmaking process, iBluebottle makes sure that their client pool is kept pristine by only allowing men who are employed and fall within a certain income bracket to sign up for the website. To ensure credibility, they are expected to upload documents like their salary slip as a proof of employment and income, their highest degree certificate to validate their educational background, residential proof and a copy of their visa, should they claim to be living abroad.

“I think the biggest challenge we face is figuring out how to remove the awkwardness and friction people feel about coming online to meet someone,” says Rahul. Perhaps with the influx of new websites to cater to the matrimonial needs of the urban Indian, we’ll see a shift in the way matchmaking is done and perceived in India and Internet-made marriages will be heavenly too.