Decoding the matrimonial columns

SSunday newspapers are heavy in weight. Multiple pages of matrimonial columns are the big reason for this heavy Sunday editions. Almost all the English dailies carry 8 page matrimonial advertisements every Sunday. The Times of India and The Hindustan Times are the two prominent newspapers which add weight to these columns. Apart from bride and bridegroom information different sociological factors are in an ample display. To decode these factors one has to spend a lot of time in reading these columns. Normally we do not even look at matrimonial columns if there is no need for us to find a partner for life.


To understand whether caste is still an issue in the wedlock, a cursory look at the matrimonial columns is sufficient. All the newspapers classify brides and bridegrooms according to their castes. Otherwise it is difficult for the reader to scan the whole a lot of advertisements. In addition to the newspapers several matrimonial websites have cropped up. Bharat,,,, and many others. Everyday there is some innovations in these sites and good improvements have been made. In a fraction of seconds one can find a suitable partner according to his or her desires. The search engines have made it very easy. Type Bride, age 23-26, Height 160 cms, complexion, fair, Caste, Kayastha, City, Patna, you will get 210 matches. With these wide ranges of brides with photos one can choose the finest one. If you are premium member of the site which will cost you Rs.3000 you can directly access the bride’s contact number and strike a conversation in the chat rooms.


The advantage of the matrimonial sites over newspaper advertisements is that there are quick search results with multiple photos. Chatting is possible with the girl and a comfort level can be established prior to striking the final deal. In the fast paced life, finding a life partner is both easy and difficult. Easy because of the several technological aids and difficult due to the persistence of socio-religious factors in finalizing the marriage.


Caste and class should match the desires of the partner searching families. In India it is not the choice of the individual over life partner. But the entire family gets into the process. One of my friends told me that he had no choice than to accept what his parents and sister selected. In more than 45 bride search visits he was never allowed to open mouth by his enthusiastic family members. If mother likes, father dislikes the bride. If three of them agree then his sister disapproves the girl for very strong voice and overweight. For the past 6 years he is searching for suitable soulmate but in vain. The consolation his sister got the right groom during bride hunts for her brother.


Despite high progress in education and heavy urbanization, social factors matter most in selection of life partners. It may be not be the choice of the bride or groom but their family members insists on the suitable social matches. A Rajput boy will demand the same caste, higher income, convent educated girl with postgraduate degree who can stay at home and look after the family. These qualifications are mostly thrust by family members. One of the important reasons for such stagnation in attitudes of parents in selecting life partner for their children is the soap operas telecasted. “Kabhi Saas bhi bahu thi” serial showcases the conflict between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and the consequence of home politics. Most of the mother-in-laws are popular patrons of these types of serials. Obviously the teleserials have impacted them and made them extremely cautious while choosing their bahus.


Most of the matrimonial columns are difficult to decode. To meet the stipulated space and spent less on the advertisement, people adopt strategies and abbreviations. It is difficult for new readers to understand these code languages.  It took months of brain racking to find out what BHP, S.M, etc are. Nevertheless matrimonial columns are interesting sociological reservoirs.  


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