Arranged marriage also means turning to Matchmakers to Find Love
For some modern Indian women, arranged marriages are still a popular choice for meeting a spouse.
In the first two minutes of Netflix’s hit reality show “Indian Matchmaking,” Sima Taparia, a Mumbai-based matchmaker, declares, “In India, we don’t say arranged marriage. There is marriage and then love marriage.” A large majority of the country’s population that opts to be set up is a testimony to the popularity of this timeless tradition.
The eight binge-worthy episodes by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Smriti Mundhra follow Ms. Taparia on her quest to find suitable spouses for hopeful singles of Indian descent from around the world. Reviews of the show have been polarized — sparking debates on patriarchy, colorism, gender stereotypes and regressive mentalities, and also bringing this centuries-old practice under a scanner.
Does the system have a lot of growing up to do? Ample. But does that automatically mean everyone associated with an arranged marriage is scathed, pursuing it only under pressure? Such has been the general — and sometimes unfair — assumption. Because of my Indian heritage, I have been on the receiving end of questions like, “Do you have to marry someone you’ve never met?” and “Will your parents choose your husband?” by my non-South Asian friends in the past.
Aparna Shewakramani, a 35-year-old Houston-based lawyer and luxury travel consultant, one of the participants on the show, adds: “A lot of women outside the South Asian diaspora messaged me on Instagram to say that up until they saw “Indian Matchmaking,” they thought that an arranged marriage meant a forced one.”