Website Matrimony Online
Online matrimonial services are experiencing a mushroom growth in Pakistan.
Matrimonial practices in Pakistan as well as in all of South Asia clearly make up a large part of the region’s culture. According to Islamic tradition, “when a man marries, he has fulfilled half of the deen, so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half” (At-Tirmidhi
Hadith 3096). In Islam, marriage holds a strong significance and according to the Holy Quran, equates to the fulfillment of half of one’s religion.
While there are specific guidelines regarding marriage, the process of choosing a partner is diverse and ap-
proached individually. The concept of arranged marriage is one that is practiced the most in Pakistan and India as well countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal. Most parents try and find the best match for their child by word of mouth, be it through their own relations or friends of friends.
Till recently matrimonial services were only approached through offices and professional organizations, most of which were not large scale and offered services to a select clientele through word of mouth advertising. As the demand grows however, a lot of these matrimonial service providers have moved their businesses towards online websites. This process is much less time-consuming, offers easier access for families and is less expensive.
With the expansion of e-commerce in Pakistan, many businesses have utilized the potential of websites and are catering to clients through online businesses. With respect to Pakistanis, there are some concerns regarding the reach of an online service that only a third of the population can access. Social institutions such as marriage, whether arranged or otherwise, are still thought of as a process predominantly handled by the males of a family. However, the dynamic revolving around the process is rapidly changing thanks to the popularity of social media.
Since there are so many divisions of cast, family, religion and so on, online matrimony websites have made the process of choosing a bride or groom easier through categorizing and narrowing down one’s search online. One must only register on an online matrimony website and list down their preferences and those matching them will be displayed to them. While this is a concept that is remarkably unabashed, it may also be useful as it saves time and effort as well as the social junctions one must cross to find a suitable partner.
In traditional Islamic law, it is generally considered that the bond of marriage be formed through the union of two families, but due to the rising usage of matrimonial websites, this is a concept that challenges contemporary Muslim practices. As there is greater access to technology, people can focus on what their requirements are without having to go through the time-consuming social practices of finding the best match. However, many disagree with the impersonal touch of matrimonial websites.
There are also concerns over the legitimacy of the social profiles, as it is much easier to give out fake information. Marriages in Pakistan are not prone to “westernization”, not even the pre-planning processes, thus some traditionalists believe online matrimonial practices tread on the older practices. The concepts of modernity and globalization do not necessarily mix with the traditional marriage proposals, but there is a decided impact of online matrimonial websites on current trends.
While there is a rise in the social media usage in Pakistan, it must be realized that only close to 20 million users are considered to be online. Out of this, even a smaller percentage is registered at matrimonial websites and while most of these websites are legitimate and easy to access, often the users must sift through the registered users to come across suitable match themselves. Although there have been a number of successful matches made through online matrimonial websites, there is a considerable number of fake profiles set up on the websites as well, which causes many to doubt the legitimacy of the entries. It is understandable why many would be mindful of applying to these websites and creating their own profiles, given that this is a somewhat new concept in Pakistan. Furthermore, there are a lot of socio-economic differences among families that apply for “rishtas” online and many find the whole process demeaning.
However, matrimonial services are somewhat similar to the process of a family physically going to a prospective match’s house. It is just that some families prefer to rely on the services of a matrimonial website as they consider both the traditionalist and modernistic view to be similar. Besides, given the fast paced lives that the youth lead, it is quite understandable why families would prefer to look for rishtas online. Apart from this, there is a certain resistance being observed between the first-generation traditionalists and the second and third generation, which, again, has to do with the change in the dynamics of religious identities.
The principles, ideas and characteristics that used to be incorporated into the social structure of marriage and proposals are shifting to a much more upfront and less time-consuming process. The fact that it has become quite an impersonal process cannot be ignored however, but it is for these second and third generation individuals that matrimonial websites are most satisfactory.
There are several other South Asian nations that choose to look for matches online, the most significant being India. Indian websites such as matrimony.com are the equivalent of Pakistan’s pakistanimatrimony.com, boast a high success rate in marriages made through them, and are largely popular among the young and old. As a website gains popularity and builds a stronger online presence, its legitimacy is no longer questioned and the success rate is thus bound to increase. Ayesha Malik is a Graphic Design graduate who freelances for several publications, including de’Sign, Slogan, Herald and Karachi Writers.