Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Knot so classified

Though matrimonial ads have changed substantially, the emphasis on looks, caste and income persist, mirroring the complexities and paradoxical nature of Indian society, says Roshni Nair as she tracks listings down the ages

Here is an excerpt from a longer article on DNA India

Inside stories
310502-classifiedVasai-based Parsi matchmaker Katy Marfatia’s skills have tied 25 proverbial knots in 12 years. Which isn’t bad for her community, she laughs. Even then, changing preferences have her worried. “Girls today don’t want to marry anyone with the surname Daruwala, Batliwala, Toddywala — basically anyone who’s a ‘Wala’. Then there are Parsis in Vasai, Thane and Dahanu whom people from South Bombay don’t want to marry because they don’t want to move north. I shifted from Dadar to Vasai 27 years ago, after marriage. That doesn’t happen now. What to do, tell me?” she asks exasperatedly.

Departure from tradition is a concern for Mahim’s Marazban Maney, who’s set up 11 couples in 22 years. And unlike most matchmakers in the community, the 46-year-old relies heavily on numerology and horoscopes. “If you were Parsi, I’d have matched you with a suitable boy because of your date of birth. Your mangal is very strong, and you ask a thousand questions,” he says.

One may not be Parsi, but it is nice knowing there’s marital room for someone who questions everything.

Maney’s ‘old school’ matchmaking gives insights about long-forgotten Parsi customs. Such as an ancient dowry system where husbands paid wives’ families. “Back in Persia, the boy would pay 30 percent of his income every month to the girl’s parents for life. The belief was that since you’re taking something most valuable (a daughter) from them, you should pay them. Parsis in Iran still follow it, but we don’t. Of the 11 couples I set up here, only two follow this system,” he says.