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Too busy for love, Indians seek arranged marriages

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    Too busy for love, Indians seek arranged marriages

    After an explosion of love marriages in the seventies and eighties, arranged weddings are back in fashion among India's growing breed of busy professionals with no time for romance.

    Many Indians who spend the better part of their day with just a computer for company are now turning to their parents to arrange their marriages through family connections, newspaper ads, marriage bureaus and even wedding websites.

    "I never really had the time to find somebody I could settle down with. My studies, and later my work left me with no time," says Uttara, a teacher at Delhi University who had an arranged marriage last year.

    A recent survey by the Family Planning Association of India published in 'The Times of India' found that almost 60 percent of India's urban youth between the ages of 15 and 29 chose arranged over love marriages.

    The difference between now and when their parents were tying the knot is that arranged marriages today don't just look at traditional factors such as caste, Indian marriage brokers say.

    In fact, with increasing westernisation, a number of families are shedding their obsession with "family backgrounds" and words like "compatibility" and "relationship" have entered the lexicon of arranged marriages, Indian marriage brokers say.

    EDUCATION KEY

    Education, professional status and income are often more important than family background, they say. R. Krishnan, director of Connexon-H, an up market marriage bureau, says his firm feeds details of potential brides and grooms as well as their preferences into a computer.

    "Once we have these details, our computerised framework naturally churns out matching details," he told Reuters.

    "There used to be occasions when well-dressed girls and boys used to come out and match-making traditionally used to happen then. Today, newspapers have taken on the role of what the community used to do," adds R. Sundar, director of marketing at 'he Times of India'.

    Two decades ago, love marriages were frequently a form of rebellion against India's traditional lifestyle. Today, people are prizing arranged marriages as part of the country's heritage.

    "We're maintaining the social and cultural heritage and we would like to stick to that. It's the best mode of alliance," said Digbendu Roy, who recently put a matrimonial ad in a paper.

    The popularity of arranged marriages isn't just a fallout of the hard-nosed professionalism which has left people time poor.

    It is also influenced by a recent burst of Bollywood films romanticising arranged marriages and the extravagance surrounding the traditional five-day wedding rituals.

    But many young Indians still balk at the thought of allowing somebody else to choose their life partners. "If I go for a love marriage, I think it would be good for me because then I would know my partner very well," says Rajesh Narula, a 26-year-old garment exporter.

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