Arranged over a cappuccino

SONG 'N' DANCE The boy papa picked needn't be staid and boring, say girls these days Photo: Parth Sanyal

SONG 'N' DANCE The boy papa picked needn't be staid and boring, say girls these days Photo: Parth Sanyal  

Matchmaking is back in fashion with online matrimonial portals making it sound as cool as dating

The "oh" has just got replaced with a "wow". The "but-why" has been replaced by "that's-cool" and "how sad" has been substituted by "how sweet". All this at the mention of an arranged marriage. This old-fashioned way of hitching up got redefined and won itself the "cool" tag six years ago the moment superstar Madhuri Dixit turned into Madhuri Nene with an "arranged" husband from the U.S. of A.There is speed dating through mobile phones and friendship clubs on the Net, and yet, most young girls prefer the conservative route while choosing their husband, with even the boys still believing in custom-made marriage proposals. The over one lakh profiles on a single leading matrimonial website is proof to the rising interest in arranged marriages.An arranged marriage is no more an affair fraught with the risk of marrying a stranger. From the word go, the boy and the girl have a say in the matter. In some cases, the prospective bride and groom are even allowed to meet at trendy joints such as coffee pubs and restaurants to get to know each other before they decide. Of course, all this only after the kundalis are matched and the parents flash the green signal.

Making choices

"Once my parents were convinced about the boy's family background, they backed off to let me make my decisions," says Tejaswini Rao, who is all set to tie the knot to the man of her parents' choice. The new-age terminology such as "same wavelength" and "sharing a chemistry" are obsolete now. "Hailing from similar family backgrounds and sharing identical values naturally guarantee you a certain compatibility which makes life with a spouse a lot more easier," says Keertana Reddy, a television journalist in Hyderabad. An arranged marriage today is now a funky online affair where eligible girls and boys place first-person proposals (" am a cocktail of traditional, modern, conservative and progressive values. Check me out here... " talk about their hobbies (" am a fan of Calvin & Hobbes, are you?") give a glimpse of their partying and dressing habits (social drinker, non-smoker, casusal dressing, etc). Even though the good old horoscope and family details still reign supreme, the whole process has been simplified. Each profile has horoscope charts , photographs of the girl/boy, email ids, and yes, even chat sessions if both the searching parties are online at the same time."For my elder son, who got married 10 years ago, we spent a month before finalising the match. Now, for my second son, we are likely to arrive at a conclusion within minutes, what with all the relevant details provided right here," says the father of an eligible boy. Interestingly, the photographs of the brides and the grooms are no coy - as in girls in silk saris and bedecked with flowers and boys in checked shirts with a ballpoint pen in their pockets. Instead, it is western wear, shades - outdoorsy and sporty pictures that reflect their attitude. "An arranged marriage today is nothing but a marriage that has the approval stamp of parents. As a parent, I only facilitate the meeting of the boy and the girl after duly checking the antecedents," says Mahesh Rao, a retired colonel helping his daughter search for a groom.Last heard, Abhishek Bachchan announced that he would marry the girl his parents "choose and arrange" for him. Any nice, slim, fair, tall, home-loving... girl for this brand ambassador please?MANJU LATHA KALANIDHI

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