International Women's Day is on March 8
New Delhi: She is multitasking but doesn't know how to cook, she doesn't have the patience to deal with nagging in-laws, doesn't want children within a year of marriage and her focus is on building a successful career. Meet the new age 20-something Indian girl who's fighting the 'matrimonial ad' battle with her parents every day and shattering the stereotype of what is expected of a conventional Indian wife.
It took one brave 'tomboy' Indhuja Pillai, a Bangalore-based 24-year-old, who calls herself 'not marriage material', to awaken the underlying frustration in many girls across the country on the issue of being pressurised by parents to find a groom via matrimonial websites, ahead of International Women's Day.
Sumesh Menon, co-founder and CEO of Woo, a women-centric matchmaking app that highlights women's expectations and concerns about marriage, says that Indhuja's plight echoes the sentiment of millions of Indian women, who don't subscribe to the idea of the 'ideal bahu'.
"They long to be accepted for who they are and not forced into any boring, uncomfortable moulds. Women now want marriages of equality, where whatever applies to the man is equally applicable to the woman - be it independence, social life or work," Menon told IANS.
A string of regular surveys by popular matrimonial website Shaadi.com has indicated that marriage queries annoy single Indian women the most; that Indian girls are more forthright about their preference to meet a prospective groom before his family; and that meeting match-seekers due to family pressure tops the complaints of eligible women.
That notwithstanding, their parents, in the endeavour to settle them down at a 'right age', resort to finding arranged matches, via relatives, friends, and now often through matrimonial sites.
According to a news report, the very fact that Pillai's parents made her sound desperate to get married to a "good groom" in the "groom wanted" ad, drove her to create her rebellious "matrimonial CV" on a website - marry.indhuja.com -- to ensure that the right message reaches the 'right' candidate.
The profile created by her parents highlighted her education and occupation, while her self-created profile shared more insights about her personality, interests and expectations. This included her revealing: "I'm not a drinker and I hate smoking. An eggitarian, not a foodie. I play badminton, sing and dance.
"I wear glasses and look dorky in them...NOT a womanly woman. Definitely not marriage material. Won't grow long hair, ever. I come with a life-long guarantee and I commit for life."
Her partner preference is also as clear as it gets.
Kudos to Pillai, says 28-year-old Trisha Naik, whose family sits with profiles of shortlisted candidates on a matrimonial site every weekend.
"I thought of doing the same as Indhuja the moment I got to know my family has started searching for a groom for me. Indian families are patriarchal, and they believe in showing an unreal version of their daughters," Naik, who felt proud upon seeing a younger girl take a bold step and break the stereotype, told IANS.
"Ultimately, it is us who face the complications later in our married life. So why not clear things now rather than regretting it for the whole life," Naik added.
Sujata Shekhawat, a 34-year-old single working woman, has been going through the 'matrimonial process' for a long time.
"I was depressed and irritated after a few encounters with prospective grooms and their families. Questions like living with the family, cooking, as if it is women's only job, made me so furious that I decided not to settle down till the time I get someone who wants a soulmate, not a maid," Shekhawat told IANS.
Relationship counsellor Jai Madaan says being your real self and honest is the key of any good relationship, and that's what Indhuja aimed at.
"Honesty reflects from her talks. Nobody is 'perfect marriage material', else there had been no fights and divorces. So to be honest and vocal about yourself is very important so that nothing raises false expectations," Madaan told IANS.
Alas, that for many Indian families, a "subdued", not a "rebellious", bride fits the bill of a 'bahu'.
Still, Madaan feels that "sensible men get attracted to a woman's honesty and boldness."