Web­site Mat­ri­mony On­line

On­line mat­ri­mo­nial ser­vices are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a mushroom growth in Pak­istan.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Aye­sha Ma­lik

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.


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