Read an article in TOI today where they stated that Online marriage portals are one of the fastest growing sector in India. They are doing roaring business.. Apart from BharatMatrimony.com, shaadi.com and jeevansaati.com, there are lots of specialized sites coming up based on professions, disabilities, age etc..
Though online websites are flourishing, the traditional ways are still preferred in many sections. I wanted to talk more about how the marriage alliances are setup...
Typically starts with a scan in the family circle to check for suitable marriage age girls and boys. This probably is decided way during the child's stage. If that doesn't work out, the temples or religion/caste associations would have marriage registers where we could register. Put in your photo, horoscope (this is a must most of the places) and a "BioData"... yep a biodata containing all the details that might help the other side decide if you are a suitable alliance. Then the "Brokers" come into pictures.. There are tons of them and each would say he's the best and has arranged for 100s of marriages and all are doing good.
So, you get lots of "snaps" of the other gender. You select a few based on your criteria (typically only the looks :-)). Then you enquire about the girl's family from all the people you know :-)... Just to get a confirmation that their family is good. Then you meet the brides side by visiting their place. They visit your place. If all goes well, then again you travel with all and sundry to the bride's place to confirm the alliance. There are lot's of negotiations happening. 100s of steps.. but the vital point of the girl and boy getting to know each other is missed in many cases :-).
But then, aren't marriages a union of two people with preparation for compromises.