Tell me about your arranged marriage chronicles

India: Tinder in the land of arranged marriage

A summer day in Delhi. The thermometer shows almost 40 degrees Celsius. The sky is gray and overcast: dust and the honking of the tuk-tuks fill the air. The sweetish-tart scent of corn on the cob roasted on charcoal joins it. The light wind that turns its laps does not bring any cooling. It feels like the city is under a huge hairdryer.

On this day, Kiran and Lata choose a shady spot under a tree in a park in the Indian capital. In this way they escape the hottest hours and the glances of passers-by - because love and affection between man and woman do not belong in public. Strolling through the streets holding hands is impossible in many parts of the city. It is only tolerated among men - it symbolizes friendship.

The two students are something of a couple, not according to the Western definition, but according to theirs. "We are actually not allowed to meet. My parents want me to marry another man. But I would rather be with Kiran," says the 22-year-old, looking down at the floor. The two got to know each other through the Tinder app. At first they would have written to each other for weeks before they met.

Anonymity is desirable

"We belong to the same Yadav caste, but our parents would never understand that we met and fell in love through a dating portal," says the 26-year-old, putting his arm around Lata protectively. They are afraid of disappointing their families, so these are not their real names either. They also don't dare to go in front of a camera. However, they are protected in the park.

Couples lie everywhere and enjoy the time together - actually a matter of course. The park is like a fortress, delimited by an iron fence. There are only two entrances, both of which are guarded by security staff. Taking photos is strictly forbidden. "We go through regular patrols through the park to make sure that the visitors are undisturbed. It's not up to me to judge them. Everyone should do what they want," says Mahavir, one of the park rangers.

Not everyone thinks this way: It is estimated that around 90 percent of marriages in India are arranged. Love plays a subordinate role. It is much more important to belong to the same religion and caste. Closely followed by financial independence. After all, the day-long wedding party needs to be paid for. It is not uncommon for up to 500 guests to attend the celebrations.

"Not our tradition"

"I met my wife Raja through my parents. Over the years I've fallen in love with her too. I think it's about making your family proud. I can't understand that there are people out there who care Meeting Tinder - that's not our tradition, "says 35-year-old Sudhir. This view may not be tangible in Europe, but the marriage out of love is a relatively young phenomenon here too. "From a cultural-sociological point of view, there are arranged marriages in all cultures in which there are class differences. That was also the case in Austria for a long time. Regardless of whether it is with the peasants or the nobility," says Roland Girtler, professor of sociology at the University of Vienna. When it comes to money, this model also plays a role in democratized societies - especially in India. But of course there are exceptions.

In 2016, Match Group owned Tinder opened its first office outside America in Delhi. Anil also uses the app. Primarily to get to know foreign women. "Once I even took a woman from Prague, I think she's in the Czech Republic, to my parents' house. I told them we were just friends," says the 23-year-old with a broad grin.

Waiting for a rethink

It is now afternoon. Lata takes her blue silk scarf and puts it over her and Kiran's head: this is a better way to turtle it. The two do not know how things will continue - they hope one day to be able to convince their parents to break with tradition. But until that happens, some men and women in India will still dare to venture to the altar - with or without love. (Benjamin Enajat from New Delhi, October 16, 2018)