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Made in heaven, proposed on WhatsApp first

A whatsapp group started with the aim of bringing together like-minded people in marriage.

Last week, when most of Mumbai was busy with celebrating V-Day, a WhatsApp group of young people that met in Panvel had love on their minds too, with a difference. Comprising exclusively of those seeking the right partner for marriage, the meet was to discuss what each member expected from a life partner after talking about it on the group for a couple of months.

Bringing these young people together was Arati Naik, a rationalist and member of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS), who came up with this idea during the many discussions she had with activists looking to get married.

The MANS WhatsApp group is not a matchmaking one, says Ms Naik. “There are people who look beyond caste, religion and traditional methods of marriage. Why not bring them together? The idea was to let them discuss their idea of marriage, expectations, hobbies and social issues. Let them clear misconceptions and look for their future partner with improved vision and thought process,” she added.

The group initially started with a few single men from in and around Mumbai. As word spread, girls too started joining. “We first interview a person and only then allow him or her to join,” Ms Naik said, adding that no group member can contact the other directly.

Those interested in joining the group have to fill out a form, which tries to identify the applicant’s thoughts on various issues apart from the usual name, occupation and hobbies. Details to be entered include the applicant’s idea of an ideal marriage and if they are ready of inter-caste or inter-religious marriages.

Each day, the group discusses a topic, which could range from issues such as gender equality to addictions and importance to fairness to masculinity. “Women are by far clearer in their thoughts. They know what they want and their expectations are clear,” Ms Naik said.

Nisha Phadtare from Satara said the discussions have cleared her mind about the type of partner she wants. “Yes, my family still wants me to marry someone from our caste, but this mingling with likeminded people has given me confidence,” she said.

Tushar from Navi Mumbai too sees it as “something different”. “The discussions inspire us to break the traditional way in which marriages are arranged in our society. It is not only important to understand one’s partner before marriage, but connecting intellectually is also vital. It has changed my way of looking at the wedding scene around me,” he said.

With requests pouring in from across the state, Ms Naik makes it clear that she does not intend to start a marriage bureau. “We want to prepare them and their parents for marriage. Our next step will be to sit with parents and allow these young men and women to express their thoughts freely in front of them, which hardly happens,” she said, adding that similar workshops will be held across the state with the help of MANS.

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