Sometimes I complain to my wife that I wanted the kande-pohe route of marriage and I missed it. Kande-Pohe used to be the quintessential 'arranged' marriage dish of Maharashtrians for those pre marital family meetings. I am not sure if that dish has been replaced by something else today. Nevertheless the cultural significance of Kande-Pohe cannot be denied as far as Marathi "meeting of the minds" is concerned. Never mind.
Shaadi.com exploded on the sub continent scene post Y2K and we entered the dot com era of Indian marriages. Whether Shaadi.com has effectively shut down all the mom-and-pop local marriage bureaus of India, I am not sure. For now I am willing to bet, they co-exist. The local neighborhood marriage bureaus I would assume are still in business. And in some cases still flourishing.
It may be argued that in anyone's life, the decision of choosing a life partner is the single most significant moment of the lifetime. No one would ever take the plunge, I believe, thinking, "Ah, what the heck, let me give it a shot and try out"; unless of course you are a Liz Taylor or a Rekha.
99% of the people who get married, would take it as a given, that this would be their only marriage. And thus, there is that extra pressure I think on both the potential bride and the potential groom to get the decision of choosing life partner right in first shot. Their decision can have far reaching impact not only on their own lives but others related to them.
So here's my question, have websites like Shaadi.com, BharatMatrimonial.com helped this generation ease that pressure? Or have these sites only added more to it? The jury is still out.
Shaadi.com is a perfect example of Technology mixing with Culture. I have never used the site, but I am presuming, this site will help you with informed decision making process. Because everything is out there. The height,weight,complexion, caste, sub-caste, gotra, even salary details in some cases, family background, interests and hobbies, and what have you. All this information overload; is it good or bad? Does it help to come to a decision?
Clearly I am over simplifying due to lack of experience and first hand knowledge about the usage of these sites. But I am curious to know how Shaadi.com became the sixth most important brand in India? How Anupam Mittal became a muti-millionaire with a singularly brilliant idea? Surely, something clicked. Surely many people are using it and surely there have been success stories at Shaadi.com
For any website, whether B2B or B2C or not, the CONVERSION rate is what guides the revenues. More than how many clicks and eyeballs the site gets, it's how many people actually stayed on and continued with the "final transaction" with the site is what counts. In case of sites like Shaadi.com that 'final transaction' would mean, marriage itself.
There should be a follow up question too? Has Shaadi.com helped the process of getting two people closer fast; and have the divorce rates increased too? Or the increase of divorce rates totally unrelated to Shaadi.com phenomenon? I don't know. These are one too many questions.
Marriage is a big deal, anywhere in the world and more so in sub continent cultures. It's an enormously large industry. And Anupam Mittal just tapped into part of that billion dollar mountain. It's clear he was successful. It's also clear that the new IT savvy generation that has many avenues to "connect" with their future spouses, may it be orkut.com or facebook or just plain emailing, have Shaadi.com to fall back on if nothing else works.
I am willing to bet that the future of cyber marriages is bright :) So ending on a happy note for all the future websites including .... marwarimarriage.com, punjabimarraige.com, kokanasthmarriage.com...
Who knows, if people start "specialising" this huge market in future. ;-)