Economy hits marriage choices in India


An Indian bride adjusts her headwear during a mass marriage ceremony on the border with Pakistan in April.
Once, they were a prized catch.

Men who had everything an Indian woman wanted: a job, a house and a life of comfort in faraway lands. They had studied hard and landed top jobs in the West. On Wall Street. In Silicon Valley. In corporate boardrooms and college classrooms. Every woman wanted a non-resident Indian or “NRI” groom. Not anymore. The economic slump has affected marriage traditions in India, forcing men and women to rethink their choices of a lifelong partner. Consider Shweta Gupta, 23, who recently visited the Mumbai, India, offices of a popular online matrimonial site — Shaadi.com — in hopes of finding a suitable match. “Many Indians working abroad have come back, due to this recession hitting foreign countries,” she said. “I don’t think the recession has affected India that much. In fact, I have observed that jobs have increased in India, so I would prefer my man to be from India.”

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And Gupta’s mother, Shraddha Gupta, wants security for her daughter. “Suppose there is no job security, then again he would have to come to India and then again find a job for himself, so I would prefer both of them to be here itself,” she said. Shaadi.com is used by 14 million south Asians worldwide. Employee Gaurab Rakshit said the recession in the West has translated into more marriages in the East. “What’s happened during this recession period is there are less women indicating a preference for NRI men on our site,” Rakshit said. “We see anywhere between a 20 to 30 percent drop off in demand.” So, what kind of Indian men are attractive to potential brides these days Leaner times has changed trends, too, among Indian men. In the past, many might have preferred a wife who stayed at home. Now, they are looking for women who work outside the home. Anish Sapra, 27, has been searching for a bride for 10 months. “It will be a help, more than a help, to have a working partner,” he said. A wife who earns could help pay for the wedding, too. And that’s saying a lot in India, where marriages can be flamboyant and expensive affairs, though the economic slowdown has subdued them somewhat. But Shweta Gupta has no intention of stinting herself. She’s holding out for a grand celebration. She just has to find a Mr. Right.

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