9 Matchmaking Practices – From Strange to Surprising!


Matchmaking practices

Matchmaking practices are changing but…

Arranged marriages are the norm in India.

As most of you might have realized after watching the Bollywood movie 2 States (and even before that), marriage in India is an alliance between two families arranged by a professional matchmaker rather than a bond of love between two people.

We have come a long way when it comes to matchmaking.

Our grandparents or even some of our parents had to deal with marrying someone without even seeing them once before marriage!

Looking back at the old customs and rituals that were followed during matchmaking might seem outrageous, or even unbelievable, but you can’t deny that we have had some crazy matchmaking practices in our country.

We bring you the best of these weird matchmaking practices along with some surprising facts about matchmaking outside India.

1. Dowry continues to be a part of matchmaking

Image showing dowry gifts in a marriage

"India - Delhi wedding - 5438" by © Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:India_-_Delhi_wedding_-_5438.jpg#/media/File:India_-_Delhi_wedding_-_5438.jpg

It is one of the oldest and most abused practices when it comes to matchmaking. The history of dowry is not clear, but it is believed to have started so that daughters could have equal rights in the inheritance of her family’s wealth.

Boy oh boy, have we abused this tradition or what! It is sickening to see how crimes against women have escalated in the name of dowry. In some parts of India, women were sold to men in the name of dowry.

We sure as hell are glad that dowry is a crime in India, but a lot more needs to be done to get the message to millions of Indians who still think demanding dowry is their birthright.

2. Marry an animal first

Image of a dog dressed up a bridegroom

Across the board, women have never had it easy in India when it comes to marriages and matchmaking.

In some parts of India, it is believed that girls who are born with facial deformation are possessed by ghosts. And the only way to get rid of the ghost is for the girl to marry an animal, typically a goat or dog.

God, we are a sad country for women to be born in, aren’t we?

3. Child marriage

Image showing a group of children

Much has been said and written about child marriage but we just wanted to remind you of it. Imagine if matchmaking for you started when you were just 12 years old. What if instead of fighting with your parents over buying you an expensive phone, you had to fight over which person you will get married to?

Child marriage, thankfully, is illegal now but like dowry is still practised in several parts of this great nation! Here is a UN report on the practice of child marriages and the social and economic reasons that are driving this practice.

4. Leaving it to a fowl

Image of a Hen

Among the Angamis (a tribe in Nagaland), a young man having chosen his potential mate tells his father, who then sends a friend to determine the wishes of the girl’s parents.

If they express conditional approval, the bridegroom’s father tests the proposal by strangling a fowl (a hen or chicken) and watching the way in which it crosses its legs when dying. If the legs are placed in an inauspicious manner, the match is immediately ended. Otherwise, the girl is informed of the favourable progress of negotiations. At this stage, she can veto the whole relationship if she has an inauspicious dream in the next three days. If nothing of that sort happens, the wedding day is fixed.

What we like in this bizarre matchmaking process is that the girl can fake an inauspicious dream and end the nonsense once and for all!

5. Men’s beauty pageant

Wodaabe men have a strange matchmaking ritual. The men have to impress the women to get married.

"1997 274-24 Gerewol" by Dan Lundberg - 1997 #274-24 Gerewol. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1997_274-24_Gerewol.jpg#/media/File:1997_274-24_Gerewol.jpg"

In this matchmaking practice followed by an African tribe of Wodaabe, men are supposed to impress women! And it is not just about dressing up and looking good. Men of this tribe are often found spending their days grooming to look attractive and be spotted by women.

They also have an annual matchmaking festival called, “Gerewol” where men dress up and participate in a dancing competition called the “Yaake” to impress women. What do you say about a little role reversal, eh?

6. When your matchmaker was a geopolitical expert!

Friars were matchmakers in the middle agesDr Zannah Hackett in her book – The Ancient Wisdom of Matchmaking has highlighted a rather interesting qualification matchmakers had in the past.

In the middle ages, Kings and Queens found a match through Friars.

Who is a Friar?

They are Christian monks who don’t live in a monastery and instead spend their lives in service of society. One of the key requirements to become a matchmaker worthy of Kings and Queens is the knowledge of geopolitics and military alliances!

Marriages between royal family members was a key strategy to ensure the survival of a kingdom. Being a King or Queen doesn’t mean you can marry anyone you choose!

7. When matchmaking was a Government business!Government approved professional matchmaker in China

In ancient China, marriages were forcibly performed and managed by the Government! In the Zhou Dynasty, the government had a designated officer for marriage and matchmaking. During the Yuan Dynasty, official matchmakers appointed by the government came with professional certifications of authority!

Here is an interesting extract from the Telegraph.

In the spring and autumn period (770-476BC), there was an annual mid-spring meeting on the third day of lunar March that gave unmarried people a chance to get to know each other.

In The Rites of Zhou, it is recorded that men and women who fell in love during this meeting could get married freely without their parents interfering. On this day, unmarried females would come out and had fun near the river bank. Every single man would let his cup of wine run down from the upper reaches of the river. And the woman needed to take the wine if a cup stopped before her. Once she and the cup’s owner were satisfied with each other, they could talk to each other later!

8. Japan and India share the same matchmaking practice!Arranged marriages in ancient Japan

In Japan, matchmakers have been in business from the times of the Sumarai! The samurai families arranged marriages to improve their prestige, power and wealth. This practice was called the Omiai.

Even today, families hire a matchmaker (called nakado) to find suitable matches for the children. The only difference is that marriages are no longer forced on the boy or the girl, unlike the ancient times!

And as a signoff, we present to you the one matchmaking process that you will die for:

9. The best matchmaking practice in the world?

In ancient Egypt, courting was incredibly simple. If a man liked a woman, and she liked him back, they would move into the same house and live together. That’s it. Then they were married.


Oh, how we all wished life would be such simple, right?

If you know about some weird/funny/strange matchmaking practices, do let us know in the comments section below.

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