by Nonie Tuxen, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies and School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University
This article investigates how women in the Indian diaspora articulate ideas of love and marriage through testimonials published on Shaadi.com. The literature concerning Indian marriage practices tends to regard arranged marriage and love marriage as mutually exclusive. However, this article argues that a shift is occurring in the way that marriage is conceptualised by women in the Indian diaspora. Specifically, data obtained from Shaadi.com suggest that the emergence of an amalgamated practice, 'arranged love marriage', is dominant within representations of marriage on the website. 208 testimonials were thematically analysed; the findings indicate that Uberoi's (1998, 2006) notion of arranged love marriage is prevalent within the narratives examined.
Keywords: Indian diaspora, Shaadi.com, matrimonial websites, marriage, romantic love, arranged love marriage
I sent him an interest and he gladly accepted. We started emailing and then talking on the phone. I just knew that he was the one for me. Then we told our parents about each other. He was living in Chicago and I was in Sacramento. He came to California to meet me for the first time. He said that he fell in love with me at first sight. The next day we exchanged rings and our families fixed the date of our marriage. We are now happily married and living in Chicago. We are loving every moment of married life. We both thank Shaadi.com for bringing us into each other's lives.
Shruti and Abishek, USA
In this testimonial from Shaadi.com, India's largest matrimonial website, Shruti describes a marriage that blurs the line between Indian traditions of arranged marriage and love marriage. This notion of a blended marriage contradicts much of the literature concerning Indian marriage practices, which generally constructs arranged marriage and love marriage as mutually exclusive phenomena.
This article investigates how women in the Indian diaspora articulate ideas of love and marriage through testimonials published on Shaadi.com. Using the arranged marriage versus love marriage paradigm to analyse the testimonials, this article argues that a shift is occurring in the way that marriage is conceptualised by young women in the Indian diaspora. Specifically, data obtained from Shaadi.com suggest that the emergence of an amalgamated practice known as 'arranged love marriage' is dominant within representations of marriage on the website.
The amalgamation of arranged marriage and love marriage practices has been documented by several studies, particularly those concerned with popular Indian cinema, or 'Bollywood' (Uberoi, 1998, 2006; Kapur, 2009). Inroads have also been made in exploring the narratives of Indian youths (Netting, 2010). Whether arranged love marriage is present within the diaspora, however, is yet to be comprehensively understood. Investigating the notion of arranged love marriage is particularly relevant to the Indian diaspora because, given the hybridised nature of both arranged love marriage and the diaspora, it seems likely that this form of marriage would appeal to diasporic members. Arranged love marriage has the potential to bridge Indian tradition (arranged marriage) and romantic notions that align with post-modern Western conceptions of marriage (love marriage). This amalgamative process speaks to the multifaceted identities of women in the Indian diaspora who face particular gendered familial expectations surrounding marriage (Samuel, 2010).
The Indian diaspora is a significant population in which to study potential shifts in cultural practices because diasporic members tend to be agents of socio-cultural change who readily adopt new ideas and practices, and transfer them back to the home country via transnational ties and communication (Glick Schiller, Basch and Blanc-Szanton, 1992; Voigt-Graf, 2005). In the context of a globalised world, diasporas are therefore positioned at the forefront of social transformation. Furthermore, there is a general lack of literature addressing women's experiences of migration as distinct from men's (Dhar, 2010). According to Costa-Pinto (2008), women in the Indian diaspora are generally more adaptable than men in their ability to negotiate transnational hybrid identities. This suggests that women in the diaspora may be positioned at the intersection between Indian culture and Western society, making them an important focus for further study. This article therefore aims to contribute to the discourse concerning women's experiences of migration by investigating ideas about marriage present within the Indian diaspora in the context of a matrimonial website.
Additionally, there is little available literature focusing on Indian matrimonial websites. Within this literature, limited attention has been devoted to discourses within matrimonial websites. Specifically, notions of love and romance are yet to be comprehensively explored within the literature on matrimonial websites. Therefore, in addition to pursuing the wider objective of exploring women's ideas of love and marriage, this article also aims to build on existing literature within an emerging field of study. To address these aims, this article will first conduct a brief literature review, summarising relevant discourse around matrimonial websites and Indian marriage practices. Second, Shaadi.com will be used as a case study to examine a potential shift in marriage practices within the Indian diaspora.
Matrimonial websites for people of Indian ancestry first emerged in the late 1990s (Shako, 2004). These websites have since become a multi-million-dollar industry and continue to experience growth in both India and its diaspora (Jha and Adelman, 2009: 70-71). Matrimonial websites capitalise on the dispersion of Indians and the gradual breakdown of communities as a consequence of migration, both within and particularly outside India. Gopalkrishnan and Babacan suggest that 'one of the main problems of diasporic communities is the loss of the traditional matchmaking services and the opportunities that exist … in the homeland' (2007: 516). Matrimonial websites thereby provide a platform for families and individuals to locate a suitable partner, regardless of geographical location.
Matrimonial websites foster the creation of a 'global marriage market', which links different corners of the Indian diaspora with each other, as well as with India. Adams and Ghose posit that matrimonial websites play an important role in the facilitation of an Indian global marriage market as they accelerate contact 'between two or more continents, but they may also slow assimilation in [Western cultures] by inhibiting marriages across ethnic or subethnic lines' (2003: 431). Matrimonial websites thereby function to ensure that Indians within the diaspora 'are able to marry someone from the same cultural background' (Lakha, 2006: 387). Matrimonial websites permit the construction of 'a 'suitable' match [as] one with the right geographical-genetic origins', which perpetuates matchmaking along traditional criteria (Adams and Ghose, 2003: 431).
Furthering this logic, Jha and Adelman argue that matrimonial websites create a 'shopping effect' which channels people into selecting a partner based on criteria (such as religion, profession, education, complexion, and so forth) rather than allowing the possibility for 'people to 'discover' attraction in the course of interacting with a potential mate' (2009: 71). Additionally, Gopalkrishnan and Babacan contend that relationships formed through Indian matrimonial websites 'continue to exist around some basic guidelines of what will and will not be acceptable to parents' (2007: 517). What is deemed acceptable to parents is often determined by conventions dictated by arranged marriage, as outlined below.
Indian marriage practices
Arranged marriage is held within the literature as the dominant and preferred method of finding a partner in India (Medora, 2003: 214; Seth and atnayakuni, 2011: 332; Sharangpani, 2010: 252). Uberoi (2006: 24) estimates that 90% of Indian marriages are arranged. 'Arranged marriage' can be summarised as a marital alliance formed by elder family members through existing social networks, or with the help of third parties, in which specific characteristics are considered in order to find a 'suitable match' (including caste, education, social status, financial security, career prospects, religion, and so forth). An arranged marriage therefore does not concern only the individuals to be married, but is commonly regarded as a 'marriage between two families.' Arranged marriage thus becomes a collective 'practical consideration [of matchmaking criteria] in the selection of mates rather than … romantic love' (Gupta, 1976: 77). Love, then, is not a necessary precondition when selecting a suitable spouse in an arranged marriage context. It is assumed that if a proper match is made, 'love will develop after marriage as the couple negotiates their relationship' (Abraham, 2000: 19).
Love marriages have always occurred in Indian culture; however, they have never been the dominant method of selecting a spouse (Gupta, 1976). The untranslated English phrase 'love marriage' is commonly used to describe a marriage in which two individuals decide to wed without input from their families, based on romantic involvement rather than well-matched criteria. In contemporary India, love marriage often represents lust, disrespect of parents and danger to society (Netting, 2010: 709). Love is typically viewed as a 'weak' basis for marriage in Indian culture 'because its presence may overshadow suitable qualities in spouses' (Gupta, 1976: 77). Furthermore, there is a greater likelihood that love will contravene the social restrictions enforced by arranged marriage processes, such as marrying within your caste or religion (Corwin, 1977; Chowdhry, 2007; Velayutham and Wise, 2008). Love marriage is thereby constructed as the polar opposite to arranged marriage in Indian culture, as it challenges the 'natural' 'caste hierarchy, and social considerations of class, status and standing' (Mody, 2002: 255-56). Barriers constructed by familial expectations and obligations, in addition to societal norms, make achieving a love marriage difficult in Indian society. Perhaps as a consequence of the complexities surrounding love marriages, several authors have recognised an emerging shift towards a hybridised conception of marriage which blends both arranged marriage and love marriage.
Arranged love marriage
Uberoi was the first scholar to use the expression 'arranged love marriage' to describe 'a style of matchmaking whereby a romantic choice already made is endorsed, post facto, by parental approval and treated thereafter like an 'arranged marriage'' (1998: 306). In her 2006 book Uberoi builds upon this notion, suggesting that arranged love marriage can occur when 'a young man and woman (appropriately matched by all the usual criteria) … fall in love, and then bring their parents into the picture to conduct the marriage negotiations as for a proper 'arranged marriage'' (Uberoi, 2006: 36). This latter definition will inform the analysis of Shaadi.com testimonials, along with previously described conventional understandings of arranged marriage and love marriage.
Currently there are over one hundred matrimonial websites that cater to an Indian clientele (Datta, 2008). Of these websites, Shaadi.com claims to be the world's largest, with over 20 million members in its database. On its homepage Shaadi.com proudly advertises that, since its establishment in 1996, it has facilitated more than two million matches. Consequently, Shaadi.com has been recognised as an important site for further study (Shako, 2004; Maclaran et al., 2008; Jha and Adelman, 2009). In order to explore notions of marriage within Shaadi.com, the remainder of this article will adopt the following structure: first, method will be briefly outlined; second, the architecture of the website will be explored; last, a thematic analysis of testimonials published on Shaadi.com will be undertaken.
This article analyses testimonials posted between 2001 and 2011 from the 'Shaadi Pride' section of the website, which contains endorsements from users who have found their partner through the website. When reading Shaadi Pride, testimonials were shortlisted based on several criteria: first, an Indian woman living in a Western country (or her family) must have written the testimonial; second, the testimonial was required to explain how they met and how the author felt when she met her partner; third, the testimonial must detail either what led to the marriage or how the marriage took place. Ultimately, 208 testimonials were shortlisted for narrative analysis.
When interpreting the data collected from Shaadi.com, two complementary analytical approaches were combined: narrative analysis and thematic analysis. Narrative analysis is the primary method used to explore and attribute meaning to the data, while thematic analysis provides a secondary method for the organisation and coding of data. The data was coded thematically according to three concepts put forward in the literature on Indian marriage practices: arranged marriage, love marriage, and Uberoi's (1998, 2006) notion of arranged love marriage.
When analysing online data, researchers must address the ethical debate surrounding the collection of website data (Whiteman, 2012; boyd, 2007, 2008; Ess, 2001; King, 1996). This article adopts the stance that data contained within Shaadi Pride is situated within the public sphere (Ess, 2001). There are no passwords or gatekeeping devices in place to protect the content; the testimonials are freely available to all internet users (King, 1996). This article therefore treats Shaadi Pride data as publically available textual materials, as opposed to 'the property of human subjects' (Whiteman, 2012: 82). However, measures have been taken to conceal the identity of authors (see Note 2). Consequently, a discourse analysis is undertaken of narratives that effectively act as marketing materials from Shaadi.com that are published with a specific intended purpose: to promote an ideal form of marriage to the global Indian population.
Narratives are inextricable from the context in which they are told (Fontana and Frey, 2000: 646-47; Josselson, 2011: 224-25). Therefore, before examining the testimonials, it is important to contextualise the data presented within Shaadi.com and Shaadi Pride. When constructing her narrative, the author is likely to have been aware that the testimonials are publicly available and may be viewed by people known to her and her family in addition to the general public. She may therefore be mindful of maintaining the reputation of her family and in-laws as well as producing an image of herself as a virtuous woman, as the reputation of the family is important in Indian culture and women are often deemed responsible for upholding reputation (Derné, 1994; Samuel, 2010). Furthermore, the testimonials serve as promotional material for Shaadi.com, which one would assume are filtered by the website to represent only favourable accounts of marriage. These factors combine to create a context in which both the author and Shaadi.com produce an idealised representation of marriage. This representation suggests that women within the Indian diaspora can resolve tension between familial obligation and post-modern Western notions of romantic love, thereby obtaining 'the best of both worlds'.
Architecture of Shaadi.com
In addition to the context of the data presented within the website, it is also important to understand the architecture of Shaadi.com and how this can affect the way in which people use the website. Papacharissi argues that 'the architecture of virtual spaces … simultaneously suggests and enables particular modes of interaction' (2009: 200). boyd furthers this logic, suggesting that the architecture of virtual networking sites 'define what types of interaction are possible, and shape how people engage in these spaces' (2011: 42). Shaadi.com is constructed around notions of arranged marriage, particularly in the way that a profile is constructed, which, in theory, should mean that the website is primarily used to arrange marriages.
From the moment a user signs up, they are channelled into specifying information that would traditionally be used to determine whether a suitable match could be made with another marriage candidate. The majority of this information is collected during the registration process and can be very detailed. In the sign-up process, before entering any personal information (such as a name or date of birth), Shaadi.com asks the user to specify who the profile is being created for; 'self, son, daughter, brother, sister, friend or relative.' It is compulsory for the user to answer this question, and the response is later displayed on the individual's profile. The notion that a profile might be created by someone other than the person seeking marriage is consistent with traditional arranged marriage customs in which a family member would advertise, through personal networks and/or newspapers and matchmaking agencies, that a particular member of their family is seeking a marriage partner (Seth and Patnayakuni, 2011: 333-34).
Additional information that is compulsory for users (both men and women) to provide and is displayed in each user's profile includes:
- Where they grew up, where they currently live (state and city) and their residency status;
- Their level of education and the field in which they were educated;
- Their current annual income (in dollars rather than INR; however, users can also select that they 'Don't want to specify');
- Whether or not they smoke or drink.
Information that is not compulsory for users to provide, but is required before users are classified as having a complete profile, includes:
- Mother tongue;
- Caste/sect and sub-caste;
- Diet: whether users are Vegetarian, Non-Vegetarian, Occasionally Non-Vegetarian, 'Eggetarian', Jain, or Vegan;
- Personal values: whether they classify themselves as Traditional, Moderate, or Liberal;
- Complexion (Very Fair, Fair, 'Wheatish' or Dark), height and build;
- In which field the user is currently employed;
- Whether the user would 'prefer' to continue to work after marriage;
- Their horoscope details (date, time, and place of birth).
There is little variation between the details listed on a Shaadi.com profile and the criteria that have traditionally been used to determine a suitable match in arranged marriages. Caste, religion, education, profession, lifestyle practices, and horoscope continue to be important considerations when selecting a partner (Medora, 2003; Gopalkrishnan and Babacan, 2007; Samuel, 2010). Shaadi.com profiles essentially function as a contemporary matrimonial advertisement that, prior to the invention of the internet, would have been printed in the local newspaper or submitted to a matchmaking agency.
Results and Discussion
Given Shaadi.com's architecture, it is unsurprising that users arrange marriages through the website and that this is reflected in the Shaadi Pride testimonials. Twenty per cent of testimonials within the sample reflect an arranged marriage narrative. Family members can use Shaadi.com to find a suitable spouse for their relative and would presumably follow the arranged marriage pattern. Testimonials reflecting a traditional arranged marriage are typically written by the parent (or sibling, uncle, aunt, cousin, etc.) of the recently married family member and are often quite short, for example:
I am glad to inform you that through Shaadi.com I was able to secure a good match for my younger sister. I never thought that any site could bind not only two souls but two families together.
I put in my daughter's details on Shaadi.com. Although we live in Canada, we got an excellent match for our daughter from Mumbai. Keep this excellent work up.
Within the testimonials that clearly follow the traditional arranged marriage format, it is common for the writer to mention the joining of families, or the forming of an 'alliance' between two families. In the testimonials examined, no family member mentions finding a 'soulmate' for their relative. This is a significant point of difference between the ways that families use Shaadi.com and how individuals appear to use Shaadi.com, as will be discussed.
In line with arranged marriage patterns, some Shaadi.com testimonials mention that parents (or other family members) set up a profile on behalf of their child (or relative). In these cases, it appears that the family typically communicates directly with potential suitors and their families, and when a good match is found the candidate is informed. The candidates almost always speak extensively prior to finalising the marriage. Presumably, women have a degree of choice in the final decision about their marriage as they do with other contemporary arrangements, and can decline if they wish, 'although the choice of groom is rarely theirs alone' (Jones, 2009: 8). There are many examples within Shaadi Pride of women in the diaspora being happily matched by their families:
Our journey started when Nikhil sent a request which was accepted by my Dad. Both parents spoke to each other and decided to meet since Nikhil had come from the US to attend his twin brother's wedding. I was in the UK and completely clueless about this development. My parents told me about this after meeting and sharing my number with Nikhil. While talking, we both realised that we are compatible and things could work out. Both the families decided to take things forward. The only worry that they had was that we hadn't met or seen each other in person. Since both of us had been talking quite a lot, we didn't see this as a blocker. I would really like to thank Shaadi.com for uniting us forever in love.
Neha and Nikhil, UK/USA
Neha's testimonial is best described as an arranged marriage for several reasons. First, Neha's parents made her profile on Shaadi.com, screened candidates and selected a suitable match, then introduced the couple, and with the authorisation of the couple the wedding proceeded. Second, Neha seems to imply that love is something that occurs in tandem with unification (i.e. marriage). This is consistent with the notion that, in an arranged marriage, love will develop after marriage if a match is properly made (Abraham, 2000: 19).
Neha's testimonial also demonstrates how transnational families can use Shaadi.com to negotiate tradition in the context of a globalised world. In Neha's case, Shaadi.com facilitated a match made across three continents: a bride in the UK, a groom in the USA, and both families in India. Despite distance, families can appropriate Shaadi.com to enact arranged marriage practices.
The second theme that emerges from Shaadi.com is that of premarital romance culminating in a 'love marriage'. Despite the pervasiveness of arranged marriage traditions within Shaadi.com's architecture and testimonials, the website is also saturated with post-modern Western ideas of love and romance. This is an intriguing intersection between love and arranged marriage. Shaadi.com embodies traditional arranged marriage practices through the information provided in a profile and how that profile can be used; however, Shaadi.com simultaneously facilitates the development of premarital love and romance.
As discussed previously, love is not a precondition when finalising an arranged marriage. Some families might view premarital love as problematic and disruptive to the process of finding a suitable match as it is assumed that love will develop throughout the course of a marriage if a match is properly made (Abraham, 2000; Mody, 2006). Despite the destabilising effect that premarital love may have on tradition and family relations, many women (and some men) in the diaspora speak of 'love at first sight', 'destiny' and finding their 'soulmate' through Shaadi.com. For example:
When we spoke, we liked each other instantly. I have to admit that I fell in love with him the first time I saw him. My heart knew he is the one for me. There was no looking back from then onwards. After this the big question was when to get married. I was busy with my residency and Veeren was busy with completing his MBA. Neither of us wanted to wait much longer and we finally got married in a County Courthouse of Boston. When we exchanged oaths, we both had tears in our eyes. We are so much in love with each other.
Mansi and Veeren, USA
We met on your website two and a half years ago. We had a fantastic first date. I felt like a teenager having her first crush. We have had ups and downs in our relationship since then but the initial feeling of 'love at first sight' (which was mutual) never left us. My parents threw us a fantastic dream wedding, and Raj's family were just as delighted to be there. We both thank you [Shaadi.com] from the bottom of our hearts as you have helped us find each other. We are two souls in one now.
Preeya and Raj, Australia
Both Mansi and Preeya's testimonials suggest the evolution of premarital love through dating (approximately one year for Mansi, and two and a half years for Preeya), which aligns with the Indian concept of love marriage. Neither Mansi nor Preeya mention families in the context of making the decision to marry or that their family specifically endorsed the marriage, which suggests that familial obligation was perhaps secondary to finding 'true love'.
The notions of love and romance present in these testimonials, particularly love at first sight, also relate to post-modern Western conceptions of love as based on individual desire (Giddens, 1992). Love, as described by Mansi and Preeya, contains none of the negative connotations associated with love marriages detailed in the literature on Indian marriage practices. This suggests that post-modern Western notions of love are permeating how women in the Indian diaspora articulate their marriages. However, testimonials reflecting love marriage were a minority (27%) within the sample, as those that described love and romance also typically articulated the importance of their family in the marriage process.
Arranged love marriage
Testimonials that describe both premarital love and familial endorsement or involvement in the marriage are reflected in 53% of the sample. The common storyline within these testimonials suggest that couples meet through Shaadi.com, fall in love (often depicted as 'at first sight'), then seek parental approval, and the two families subsequently communicate and 'fix' the marriage. This storyline reflects Uberoi's (1998, 2006) definition of arranged love marriage, which arose from the plots of Bollywood films and other popular fiction. Some of the testimonials closely adhered to Uberoi's definition of arranged love marriage. For example:
We talked back and forth for about a month and then we met. It felt so right, so we got our parents involved - one thing lead to another thing and our wedding date was set. Thank you Shaadi.com for helping me find my best friend and the most amazing man!
Anu and Beej, UK
Anu's testimonial suggests that she met Beej independently through Shaadi.com, made a decision to marry likely based on romantic inclination, and consequently involved both families, who then presumably negotiated the marriage according to tradition and ultimately 'set' the marriage. Anu's testimonial is typical of the arranged love marriage narratives within the sample: despite embedding notions of romantic love within the narrative, authors consistently refer to the importance of family in endorsing their marriage. This suggests that women in the Indian diaspora are negotiating a tension between arranged marriage and love marriage, which appears to result in an amalgamation that represents 'the best of both worlds'.
Shayan's testimonial provides an example of a narrative that combines notions of romantic love with familial duty in order to create a story in which the author achieves 'the best of both worlds':
I still can't believe that this is really happening. Our first conversation lasted 5 hours! Unbelievable. He lived in New York and I lived in San Francisco. Finally, Danesh came to San Francisco to visit me and my family. It was love at first sight. We had an amazing first date. He even spoke with my father in private and asked for my hand in marriage. My parents were so impressed by him. My father, however, stated that without his parents in the picture, he couldn't give his blessings right away. Danesh immediately went to his parent's home and told them that he was serious about me and wanted to marry me. After that, wedding plans were discussed between the two families. I want to thank you [Shaadi.com] for not only introducing me to my partner and husband, but for making it possible to meet my soul mate. In such a short time, two families really did become one.
Shayan and Danesh, USA
Shayan's testimonial suggests that the amalgamation of love and arranged marriage is complex and different appropriations can be formed subjectively according to the couple and their situation. The progression of Shayan's narrative technically fulfils Uberoi's (1998, 2006) definition of love occurring prior to marriage and parents subsequently arranging the marriage. Shayan describes falling in love at first sight and weaves multiple post-modern Western concepts of romance and love into her narrative. However, Shayan also articulates that her parents were involved at the first date, which would suggest that there was limited courtship prior to families becoming involved - departing from Uberoi's definition which implies that the couple falls in love during a prolonged courtship period. If one were to exclude references to premarital love and romance, Shayan's testimonial would essentially portray an arranged marriage. Yet Shayan frames her narrative through a romantic lens, inferring a desire to conceptualise her marriage outside the confines of a traditional arranged marriage by embedding notions of love within her narrative.
Pallavi's testimonial also suggests that parents can play various roles in an arranged love marriage:
My family and I liked his profile. We exchanged mobile numbers and spoke to each other on the phone. After some time when we became good friends and liked each other, then we decided to meet. We met at one of Melbourne's most romantic places, Federation Square. He was standing on the top of the stairs and I was standing right at the bottom of the stairs. It was then when I first saw him that I fell in love with him. I became speechless; he could not take his eyes off me. For both of us, it was love at first sight. We gave about a year to get to know each other better and then decided to get married. Then he told his parents (my family already knew about it since the beginning). His parents agreed. I am so thankful to my mother for creating my profile on Shaadi.com and I am also thankful to Shaadi.com for helping me find my best match. I feel complete now and it's all because of Shaadi.com.
Pallavi and Akshay, Australia
Pallavi's mother created her profile and her parents also appear to have been involved in the screening of candidates, which links Pallavi's narrative to arranged marriage traditions. Conversely, the parents of Pallavi's husband, Akshay, became involved after the decision to marry had been made, as per Uberoi's definition of arranged love marriage. Despite the involvement of her family from the beginning, Pallavi describes allowing time to get to know Akshay and then deciding to marry. Similar to Shayan, Pallavi articulates post-modern Western notions of premarital love, including falling in love at first sight, of feeling complete, and so forth. Pallavi's testimonial therefore suggests an aspiration to balance familial duty with individual desire for romance.
The prevalence of the arranged love marriage discourse within Shaadi Pride suggests that women in the Indian diaspora aspire to reproduce this form of marriage. There are several reasons why women within the Indian diaspora might articulate their marriage within the arranged love marriage paradigm. First, arranged love marriage creates a situation in which women can uphold familial obligations and cultural traditions, whilst concurrently pursuing individual desires for premarital romantic love. Second, identifying with 'falling in love' potentially allows a greater degree of choice and sense of autonomy and control for women within the marriage process that can often be oppressive in Indian culture (Costa-Pinto, 2007; Samuel, 2010). Situating one's marriage within a discourse of post-modern romantic love also gives greater legitimacy to the marriage in a Western context, which may allow women in the diaspora to interact with both Indian culture and Western culture simultaneously (Costa-Pinto, 2010).
However, we should not forget that these testimonials are likely to be filtered by Shaadi.com and be composed by the author with a specific audience in mind. The testimonials therefore represent an idealised version of marriage, promoted to Indian women by Indian women. Further exploration is thus required to understand whether this idealised form of marriage - in which arranged marriage and love marriage are fused to embody 'the best of both worlds' - is also present in how women within the Indian diaspora, who are positioned outside the Shaadi.com framework, articulate their marriages. This article, however, provides important inroads in the exploration of discourses present within matrimonial websites and how women in the Indian diaspora can use these websites to negotiate tensions between tradition and modernity, family and the individual.
 Nonie Tuxen obtained her Bachelor of Arts (Hons) at Monash University. In 2012, Nonie completed her Honours degree in Gender Studies and International Studies. Her Honours thesis was awarded the School of Political and Social Inquiry's Gender Studies Dissertation Prize for best thesis. In 2014 Nonie intends to pursue a PhD at the Australian National University, specialising in contemporary Indian migration patterns.
 Names and places have been changed to protect the identity of Shaadi Pride testimonial authors. Testimonials do not appear verbatim to further conceal the identity of authors. However, meaning has not been changed.
 It should be noted that other authors have also recognised a similar emerging trend, but have coined the phenomenon differently. A common term is 'love-cum-arranged marriage' (Medora, 2003; Kumari, 2004; Mody, 2006, Khandewal, 2009; Netting, 2010). Given that these terms are essentially synonymous, this article adopts Uberoi's definition as this was first to appear and provides an apt description of the practice.
 This statement is nearly impossible to corroborate because exact figures on Shaadi.com membership are not readily available from external sources.
 An 'Eggetarian' is a slang term used to describe someone who is a 'pure' vegetarian but eats eggs.
 The majority of profiles viewed (men and women) list their complexion as 'wheatish' while very few list their complexion as 'dark'.
Abraham, M. (2000), Speaking the unspeakable: Marital violence among South Asian immigrants in the United States, New Brunswick, NJ and London: Rutgers University Press
Adams, P. C. and R. Ghose (2003), 'India.com: the construction of a space between', Progress in Human Geography, 27 (4), 414-37
boyd, d. (2007), 'Social network sites: Public, private or what?', available at http://kt.flexiblelearning.net.au/tkt2007/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/boyd.pdf, accessed 30 June 2013
boyd, d. (2008), 'Facebook's privacy trainwreck', Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 14 (1), 13-20
boyd, d. (2011), 'Social network sites as networked publics: Affordances, dynamics and implications', in Papacharissi, Z. (ed.), A networked self: Identity, community, and culture on social network sites, New York: Routledge. pp. 39-58
Chowdhry, P. (2007), Contentious marriages, eloping couples: Gender, caste and patriarchy in northern India, Delhi, India: Oxford University Press
Costa-Pinto, S. (2007), 'Constructing identity, exercising agency in the diaspora: narratives of India women migrants in Melbourne', Eras, 9, available at http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/publications/eras/edition-9, accessed 4 July 2013
Costa-Pinto, S. (2008), 'Narrating contemporary migration: Indian women in Melbourne', unpublished PhD thesis, Monash University
Costa-Pinto, S. (2010), 'Making the most of technology: Indian women migrants in Australia', International Migration, 1-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2435.2010.00640.x
Corwin, L. A. (1977), 'Caste, class and the love-marriage: Social change in India', Journal of Marriage and Family, 39 (4), 823-31
Datta, D. (2008), 'Netrimony: The new mating game', India Today, March 13 2008, available at www.indiatoday.intoday.in/story/Netrimony:+The+new +mating+game/1/5743.html, accessed 28 March 2012
Derné, S. (1994), 'Hindu men talk about controlling women: Cultural ideas as a tool of the powerful', Sociological Perspectives, 37 (2), 203-27
Dhar, R. (2010), 'Women and international migration: A cross-cultural analysis', Diaspora Studies, 3 (2), 143-60
Ess, C. (2002), 'Ethical decision-making and Internet research: Recommendations from the aoir ethics working committee', available at http://aoir.org/reports/ethics.pdf, accessed 30 June 2013
Fontana, A. and J. H. Frey (2000), 'The interview: From structured questions to negotiated text', in Denzin N. K. and Y. S. Lincoln (eds), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed.), Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, pp. 645-72
Giddens, A. (1992), The transformation of intimacy: Sexuality, love, and eroticism in modern societies, California: Stanford University Press
Glick Schiller, N., L. Basch and C. Blanc-Szanton (1992), 'Transnationalism: A new analytic framework for understanding migration', in Glick Schiller, N., L. Basch and C. Blanc-Szanton (eds), Towards a transnational perspective on migration: Race, class, ethnicity and nationalism reconsidered, New York: New York Academy of Sciences, pp. 1-24
Gopalkrishnan, N. and H. Babacan (2007), 'Ties that bind: Marriage and partner choice in the Indian community in Australia in a transnational context', Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 14 (4), 507-26
Gupta, G. R. (1976), 'Love, arranged marriage and the Indian social structure', Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 7 (1), 75-85
Jha, S. and M. Adelman (2009), 'Looking for love in all the white places: A study of skin color preferences on Indian matrimonial and mate-seeking websites', Studies in South Asian Film and Media, 1 (1), 65-83
Jones, G. W. (2009), 'Indian overseas migration, marriage markets and citizenship issues', IMDS Working Paper Series, Working Paper no. 9, 47-55
Josselson, R. (2011), 'Narrative research: Conducting, deconstructing and reconstructing story', in Wertz, F. J., K. Charmaz, L. M. McMullen, R. Josselson, R. Anderson and E. McSpadden (eds), Five ways of doing qualitative analysis: Phenomenological psychology, grounded theory, discourse analysis, narrative research, and intuitive inquiry, New York, London: The Guilford Press, pp. 224-42
Kapur, J. (2009), 'An 'arranged love' marriage: India's neoliberal turn and the Bollywood wedding culture industry', Communication, Culture and Critique, 2 (2), 221-33
Khandelwal, M. (2009), 'Arranging love: Interrogating the vantage point in cross-border feminism', Signs, 34 (3), 583-609
King, S. A. (1996), 'Researching internet communities: Proposed ethical guidelines for the reporting of results', The Information Society, 12 (2), 119-28
Kumari, R. (2004), 'Indian marriages: Economic independence and changing power relations', in Jones, G. W. and K. Ramdas (eds), (Un)tying the knot: ideal and reality in Asian marriage, Singapore: Singapore University Press, pp. 91- 114
Lakha, S. (2006), 'Australia', in Lal, B. V., P. Reeves and R. Rai (eds), The encyclopedia of the Indian diaspora, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, pp. 383-88
Maclaran, P., A. Broderick, A. Takhar and E. Parsons (2008), 'The computer as 'middle agent': Negotiating the meanings of marriage on a Sikh online dating site', European Advances in Consumer Research, 8, 60-65
Medora, N. P. (2003), 'Mate selection in contemporary India: Love marriages versus arranged marriages', in Hamon, R. R. and B. B. Ingoldsby (eds), Mate selection across cultures, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, pp. 209-30
Mody, P. (2002), 'Love and the law: Love-marriage in Delhi', Modern Asian Studies, 36 (1), 223-56
Mody, P. (2006), 'Kidnapping, elopement and abduction: An ethnography of love-marriage in Delhi', in Orsini, F. (ed.), Love in South Asia: A cultural history, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 331-44
Netting, N. S. (2010), 'Marital ideoscapes in 21st century India: Creative combinations of love and responsibility', Journal of Family Issues, 31 (6), 707-26
Papacharissi, Z. (2009), 'The virtual geographies of social networks: A comparative analysis of Facebook, LinkedIn and ASmallWorld,' New Media and Society, 11 (1-2), 199-220
Samuel, L. (2010), 'Mating, dating and marriage: Intergenerational cultural retention and the construction of diasporic identities among South Asian immigrants in Canada', Journal of Intercultural Studies, 31 (1), 95-110
Seth, N. and R. Patnayakuni (2011), 'Online matrimonial sites and the transformation of arranged marriage in India', in Romm Livermore, C. (ed.), Gender and social computing: Interactions, differences and relationships, Pennsylvania: IGI Global, pp. 329-52
Shaadi.com, www.shaadi.com, accessed 23 August 2012
Shako, S. (2004), 'New cultural structures: South Asian matrimonial websites', The McMaster Journal of Communication, 1 (1), 57-63
Sharangpani, M. (2010), 'Browsing for bridegrooms: Matchmaking and modernity in Mumbai', Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 17 (2), 249-76
Uberoi, P. (1998), 'The diaspora comes home: Disciplining desire in DDLJ', Contributions to Indian Sociology, 32 (2), 305-336
Uberoi, P. (2006), Freedom and destiny: Gender, family and popular culture in India, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Vahed, G. (2007), 'Adaptation and integration of Indian migrants in Brisbane, Australia', in Singh, A. (ed.), Indian diaspora: The 21st century - migration, change, and adaption, New Delhi: KRE Publishers, pp. 37-51
Voigt-Graf, C. (2005), 'The construction of transnational spaces by Indian migrants in Australia', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31 (2), 363-84
Velayutham, S. and A. Wise (2008), 'Second-generation Tamils and cross-cultural marriage: Managing the translocal village in a moment of cultural rupture', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 34 (1), 113-31
Whiteman, N. (2012), Undoing ethics: Rethinking practice in online research, US: Springer
To cite this paper please use the following details: Tuxen, N. (2013), 'Arranged love: conceptualising marriage on Shaadi.com', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, BCUR/ICUR 2013 Special Issue, http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/issues/bcur2013specialissue/tuxen/. Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.