- POSTED: 25 Sep 2013 20:14
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As traditional clan-bonds are starting to be loosened in 21st century India, spouses for sons and daughters are now being sought on a TV channel.
NEW DELHI: In India, the tradition of arranged marriage has survived as an integral part of its culture.
The manner in which matches are made, however, is going through some rather drastic changes.
While the latest form of matchmaking is a very slick business venture, it could also prove to be a conduit for social change.
The system of matrimonial pairing, where nuptial knots are tied by priests, began some 2,500 years ago.
Horoscope and family compatibilities were as important and crucial as the bride and groom themselves.
In 21st century India, models are replacing holy men as the matchmakers of choice.
And as traditional clan-bonds are starting to be loosened, spouses for sons and daughters are now being sought on a TV channel.
That's right, the choice of a son or daughter-in-law is just a remote-control click away with Shagun TV -- India's first 24-hour matrimonial TV station.
Mona, who was married through matrimonial TV station, said: "As it was on television, anyone who is interested in your profile can exactly look at your picture and decide at the moment. So this was a good experience. And in fact it was very different."
Indian weddings are elaborate affairs and are often considered as a reflection of a family's social standing.
People spend huge sums on wedding functions that can last for almost a week and Shagun TV hopes to cash in on this, much like the US$81 million online matrimony market.
The shows feature potential brides and grooms along with their families and advise them on matters ranging from relationships to wedding planning and shopping.
But the channel is also making a name for itself by breaking traditional privacy taboos as couples on one of the shows openly share private details of their relationships.
Anuranjan Jha, managing director of matrimonial TV channel, said: "We are discussing sex but we are not focusing on sex. Fifty thousand marriages take place in one day in a season. We love marriages, we love India. We save marriages, we save India, because it's our culture, we cannot destroy it and we should not."
A noble thought, but analysts say in a country with around 700 TV channels, the audience is also sharply fragmented.
So can a 24-hour matrimonial channel really hope to achieve its share of the Indian wedding pie, which is estimated to be worth as much as US$38 billion?
Anil Wanvari, a media analyst, said: "As far as Indian audiences' views are, they like to watch their Bollywood stars… they would like to watch Bollywood singers... but... do they want to watch anyone's marriage?”
The rise of reality TV stars in other major markets would challenge that notion about 'nobodies' on TV.
And if Shagun TV is successful, it could be more than just a business venture -- it could be an agent of change that is able to balance tradition and modernity in a fast-changing India where career women have much greater individual aspirations.