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Online Matrimonial Sites in Bangladesh

The online matrimonial sites have emerged as an intermediary to transmit marriage related information from one party to the other and thus causing marriage, it acts as a platform where prospective brides/grooms find their match with the aid of tools which use algorithms. The growing population of educated urban professionals and deeper internet penetration has resulted in proliferation of these sites in the Bangladesh. The impact of matrimonial websites on the process and practices associated with marriage in south east asia is subject to much research over the last decade, especially in the context of India [Pal, J.K,(2011), Seth, N. & Partnayakuni, R. (2009), Shako, S. (2004), Adam, P.C & Ghose, R (2003)]. Many such sites have become operational in local and regional level to sustain the pressure of marriage information seekers, these sites provides interactive platform to communicate marriage related information as observed by Pal, J.K (2011). To ease the process of selection, all web sites provide search tools for users to specify criteria. All websites capture and allow search across traditional criteria of religion, caste, community, language in addition to age and economic background. This reflects the influence of societal context on the design of web sites (Shako, S. et. als 2004). Adam, P.C & Ghose, R (2003) discusses the common attributes of a typical matrimony service portal such as free registration, fee-based utilities (e-matchmaking, online chatting, e-mail/SMS alerts), personalize services, community specific search, horoscope matching, etc. Many of the sites are adopting newer matrimony tools, improved algorithms, rich interface applications and enhanced privacy control to reap the benefits of web 2.0 technologies. Some sites feature E-matchmaker, a sophisticated tool that automatically runs for potential compatibility, which have proven to ensure matrimonial success as indicated by Pal, J. K. (2003). While searching for prospective bride/groom, the online matrimonial sites provide an information rich environment, where the user privacy and anonymity is maintained, distance and geography is no bar in finding the perfect match, even though the gender role and cultural stereotypes persists in matrimonial sites as acknowledged by Adam, P.C & Ghose, R (2003). The demographics of much of the users in these site are educated urban professionals and expatriates, their geographic locations are limited to the large metropolitan cities or some foreign country as acknowledged by Shako, S (2004). Adam, P.C & Ghose, R (2003) has reiterated that the biggest change brought about by the matrimonial sites is the opportunity for interaction, the prospective bride/groom can get to know each other through e-mail, chat and over the phone, so a extended courtship arises and virtual dating precedes matchmaking. If the match does not work out, the process of disengagement is also easier and there is reduced stigma in disengaging.

There is a growing number of websites that are dedicated to providing matrimonial services in the region. Major players from US in Internet-related business view this as potential market and have tied up with Indian matrimonial sites, for instance Yahoo! along with a venture capital has taken up a stake in BharatMatrimony.com and Microsoft has ties with Shadii.com as observed by Pal, J.K et. al (2011). Although the online services in these markets are about 4% of the estimated $500million spent on offline matrimonial sites, its expected to grow at the rate of 40-50% every year as emphasized by Seth, N. & Partnayakuni, R. (2009). Online matrimonial sites could soon overtake the print media fuelled by growing urban educated classes and the NRIs (Shako, S. et. al 2003). Indian matrimony sites along with their traffic ranks(indicating popularity), amount of links(reputation), daily page views, average stay on site and first registration date of the domain(site age) has been presented by Pal, J. K(2003) in the recent work. Since its inception, the matrimonial sites have faced criticisms in regards to the adequacy and the quality of information as well as its reliability, as highlighted in studies conducted by [Pal, J.K, (2011), Seth, N. & Partnayakuni, R. (2009), Shako, S. (2004), Adam, P.C & Ghose, R (2003)]. Further assessment of matrimony sites in terms of visibility, relative importance as well as authencity and commitment towards matrimonial information is always necessary as stressed by Adam, P.C & Ghose, R (2003). With implementation of enhanced technologies and new policies the matrimonial sites can help build strong information network and provide effective matchmaking services with reliable matrimonial information.

Reference:
Seth, N. & Partnayakuni, R. (2009) Online Matrimonial Sites and the Transformation of Arranged Marriage in India IGI Global, chapter XIX pg 348-349 ,

Adams, P.C & Ghose, R (2003) India.com: the construction of a Space betweenProgress in , Human Geography, Sage publication, 27;pg 414- 437

Pal, J. K (November 2011) Review on matrimonial information systems and services- and Indian perspective international Research Journal of Library, Information and Archival Studies Vol. 1(4) pp. 126-135,

Shako, S (2004) New Cultural Structures: South Asian Matrimonial WebsitesThe McMaster Journal of communication, Vol. 1, Issue 1, ISSN 1710-257X