Shaadi vs barbaadi

” The joys of relationships according to the Matrimony Day website, apparently lie “in the sweet little fights over small little nothings. In understanding each other even in silence. In making your presence felt when miles away. In unconditional love when you say ‘I still love you’.” This proposal has been made by a matrimonial website — presumably to encourage use of its services. In an interview, the CEO of this portal says that technology and ‘trends’ have created a huge metamorphosis in marriage. 

Illustration/ Amit Bandre

“The idea behind Matrimony Day was to throw light on the customs and traditions of our country and thereby marriage. A successful marriage in turn leads to a successful society. One can enjoy wealth, position or power only if he has a happy family.” Ah, the “He”. What are these traditional values, and what is the metamorphosis that threatens them? The CEO has personally observed that, “marriage does not carry the same value or interest as it did 20 years ago. Today, career, wealth and qualification have become a priority not only among men, but also women. This in turn results in delayed marriages...”

I say! It’s those unruly ladies again, constantly threatening society and traditions with barbaadi because they want to go and have jobs and maybe some equal rights and wait so long that they lose their adjusting abilities and all. It is hard to say if the ads are instructions for these ladies or fantasies for men and their mummies. In ad one, a woman picks up after her shockingly messy husband, mildly cribbing to her friend on the phone “These mothers I tell you, they just spoil their sons.” Her irritation evaporates when she finds a note that says, “From a not-so-perfect husband to a perfect wife. 

Happy Matrimony Day.” In another ad, a suited booted fellow looks for his stuff. His wife, who must have woken at 4 am to ensure that her house and herself were immaculate by 9 am, knows without looking what he needs, and where it is. “Poor little investment banker, can’t even find his keys.” She smiles smugly as her husband discovers the note she’s left with his keys. “Dear disorganised husband — still I love you. Happy Matrimony Day.”

So is this the modern marriage? Where the basis of that mythical matrimonial bliss is women who are sweat-free indulgent drudges — mommies really — to husbands who can forever be messy, inconsiderate boys at home so they can go out and conquer the financial world as real men? Or to invert it, where men are told they deserve love only if they earn enough cash (poor little investment bankers, and their inevitable East European escorts) and women deserve adoration only if they serve these men? Not all that unconditional, is it, Mr CEO?

Perhaps not surprising coming from a website which strongly emphasises horoscope-matching, and community-based events, sometimes called the caste system. It’s ironic, they have chosen April 14th , as that’s the birthday of Ambedkar, who suggested that inter-marriage by choice was one way to end the caste system. Just not on Matrimony Day, I guess. And all those who fall for these stale stories, hook, line and sinker — I guess we’ll see them in court. After all someone must be contributing to those steadily rising divorce rates. These adverts do a lot to explain why!

Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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