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The man behind the largest matrimonial portal is a traditionalist at heart


WHEN MURUGAVEL Janakiraman set out to conquer the world, armed with an MCA degree, the last thing he would have expected to become is a matchmaker. But here he is today, having united thousands of couples. Mr. Murugavel is the CEO of BharatMatrimony.com, headquartered in Chennai, which is claims is the largest matrimonial website.

The Chennai-born Murugavel was working in the U.S. as a consultant when he noticed the plight of singles desperate to get hitched. Sensing the opportunity of a lifetime, he started the portal in 1998, which was an instant hit.

He himself is the best advertisement for his venture, having found his bride Deepa, a Tamilian based in Gujarat. "It was all traditional," he hastens to add, "I was in touch with my future father-in-law and it was my brother who went to Gujarat first to approve of the girl."

He has expanded his portal to include 14 sections, slotted into communities, the latest additions being to cater to Marwadis, Assamese, Oriyas, and Parsis. The maximum response has been to www.tamilmatrimony.com and www.hindimatrimony.com. Couples who marry with the help of his portal are called "success stories", and the oldest person to wed thus has been a 65-year-old man. "There were also three of the same family who got married through BharatMatrimony.com," the 33-year-old Murugavel, in town earlier in the week, says proudly.



Murugavel Janakiraman: `Finding a partner through us is easy'

The portal, which places great value on protecting the privacy of its subscribers, has add-on services like placing ads in newspapers, collecting and forwarding responses, following up on the ads, horoscope matching, astrological predictions, booking marriage halls, helping print wedding invitations, and so on.

Mr. Murugavel, who lives in New Jersey, also runs three allied publications, Vaazhkai Thunai, a Tamil monthly that carries thousands of matrimonial ads, besides articles, Match Maker, an English weekly published from Mumbai, "packed with ... matrimonial classifieds, interesting articles on relationships, marriage, beauty and passion", and Desi Match Maker, an English tabloid, the first such for South Asians in the U.S..

Subscription to the portal is Rs. 500 for three months. Occasionally, along with every "success story", Mr. Murugavel's staff in India get invited to the happy occasion. "The families offer shawls and treat us like VIPs," smiles K. Srinivasan, Regional Manager for Karnataka, who functions from his office at Barton Centre.

In Bangalore, BharatMatrimony.com has a 45-minute programme at 10:45 on Sunday mornings on Radio City, besides a similar one called Hasamané on TV. It has organised several swayamvaras, the latest being one for Bengalis in Mumbai last Saturday. There was another recently in Chennai for 3,000 brides and grooms and one for the physically challenged on November 2. The portal also throws parties in Mumbai and Chennai for "success stories"."We offer different platforms," says Mr. Murugavel. The latest is through SMS 5050 ("fifty-fifty"). "There are four keywords - Register, Find, View, and Contact. One pays Rs. 10 per contact." But isn't SMS rather too casual for something as important as seeking a life partner? Mr. Murugavel doesn't agree. He argues that newspaper matrimonials and Internet matrimonials were viewed with suspicion initially, but now the response to them is tremendous. It's the same with SMS, he points out. "We are only powering tradition through technology," says the entrepreneur who heartily approves of traditional weddings. "We expect a million users to subscribe through the mobile phone in another six months."

Have any foreigners registered themselves? "Yes, there are some Americans looking for Indian wives, but I don't know if anyone has been successful." He adds: "Finding a partner through us is easy. Almost guaranteed."

For more information, check out www.BharatMatrimony.com.

SUGANDHI RAVINDRANATHAN

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