Nearly all Indian women marry by their late 20s, and births out of wedlock are vanishingly rare. Marriages are almost always arranged. Dowry payments are widespread. About 90-95% of the time Hindus marry within their broad caste group. But if the basic rules of the game are fixed, the style of play is different these days.
Gourav Rakshit, the chief executive of a popular website for seeking marriage partners, Shaadi.com, spies a subtle but momentous change. It used to be that parents and older siblings drove the matchmaking process, he says, lining up potential partners whom the spouse-to-be might veto. These days the offspring tend to be in charge of finding their own partners, but parents may veto them. “What has not changed is that marriage is a family decision,” he explains. “What has changed is who is driving the process.”