Arranged marriage has been part of Indian life since the fourth century, but as India`s wealth and new technology continue to burgeon, so the marriage industry is changing fast - and its trajectory is online. India`s matrimony market is estimated to be worth almost $230 million annually (£118 million). This includes online dating and matrimony services which brings in about $13.5 million (£7 million).
Shaadi.com was launched in 1997 by the 34-year-old entrepreneur Anupam Mittal. Compatibility, commitment, chemistry, community, communication and compassion are the six Cs on which his business was founded. Now one of India`s five most popular sites, it has acquired 10 million members and claims to have matchmade a million marriages around the world. It boasts 300 million page views each month and 6,000 new profiles are added every day (60 per cent of which are male).
Shaadi.com succeeds because it makes searching for a potential spouse incredibly easy, and also allows parents to keep hold of the reins while putting a great deal of choice and control in the hands of individuals. It works in a similar way to many Western dating sites - members simply post their details in their online profile and wait for potential soulmates to get in touch or browse the site for compatible partners. Unlike Western sites,shaadi.com breaks down applicants into so many different search categories - religious grouping, caste, skin tone, country of residence - that members should, in theory, be able to find exactly what they are looking for.
Shaadi.com also provides a plethora of additional services: a directory listing of wedding-related services; a lifestyle website, shaaditimes.com, with features on travel, fashion and health. There are also more than 150 Shaadi.com Centres in 87 Indian cities, where parents and children can sit down with a relationship adviser and trawl the company`s huge database.