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Four users on the GTA’s largest South Asian dating website——share the secrets of ethnically loaded matchmaking

Shades of Brown

For members of traditional South Asian communities, marriage—in Hindi and Urdu, shaadi—is the single most important event in life. To help unmarried South Asians find a suitable partner, Anupam Mittal, a Mumbai entrepreneur, launched the dating website, and it became so popular in the GTA that the company chose to open a satellite office in Mississauga last year.

Like Lavalife, and other dating sites, Shaadi contains pages and pages of users’ profile pictures, interests and hobbies. But Shaadi bills itself as a site for people who want to marry, not a hangout for promiscuous daters, and it requires that its members indicate skin complexion and religion and caste—decidedly old-fashioned ideas that have created something of an image problem. Many of its members deny they use it out of embarrassment. And yet that hasn’t diminished the site’s popularity; 24,000 of the GTA’s 684,000 South Asians now use Shaadi’s services, including parents who set up profiles for their eligible children—a computer­-age variation on the arranged marriage.

Justin Thomas, 31, and mother Valsa Thomas, 57

Justin Thomas, 31, freelance software developer and mother Valsa Thomas, 57, oncology nurse

Umbreen Tapal, 29

Umbreen Tapal, 29, marketing analyst

Sathish Balasunderam, 35

Sathish Balasunderam, 35, real estate lawyer

Sampada Kukade, 32

Sampada Kukade, 32, communications officer

  • PiccadillyLineToCockfosters
  • Phil

    Hey this is the best place to ask. Do Indian girls like white guys?

  • Joe Mancinelli

    Any vehicle that assists people to meet people is a good thing.
    Welcome to the 21st Century of communications.

  • Asha

    These experiences on Shaadi sound largely positive, but it has always frustrated me that some Indo-Canadians still choose to subscribe to elitist and racist notions like the class system and the fairness of one’s skin. In adopting such a closed mindset, you may be missing out on someone really special.

  • BH

    Shaadi is a great site to cast a wider net during your quest to find that special someone. However, I can’t stress how important it is to conduct your own due diligence,researching the person’s family and the person himself. To be upfront, meeting the person a few times just isn’t enough; you have to engage in conducting “background checks” of sorts. There is an industry in India for these services for a good reason. And if people get offended take that as a sign – they probably have something to hide. The clean families will appreciate you taking control of this life-changing decision.

    I know this seems like common sense but when emotions are at play none of this will matter. I say this from experience – Canada is a generous country and the world knows it. There are too many folks out there who will do anything to get the residency status so CITIZENS BEWARE!

    My shaadi-initiated marriage lasted only till the day the guy got his PR status. He abandoned the marriage the next day after I supported him for 10 months as he couldn’t work on a Visitor’s visa. Oh and the dowry claims that started after the marriage are another story. It took me 3 years to get a divorce from this guy as he was claiming $3K in support, for who knows what! Guess who will pay legal fees – you! And they get to live to welfare and legal aid will pay for their legal fees.

    I don’t mean to scare you and I’ve seen work out for a lot of people. But I don’t want another person to get conned because of the Canadian PR status candy that we citizens can offer. Lastly, Good Luck and I really pray and hope no one goes through what I did.

  • Just Some Torontonian

    Perhaps some of these folks are having trouble finding love because they are obsessed with things like skin shade? I think online connections, arranged marriage etc. can be a wonderful thing for a lot of people, but let’s get real here – with so many hang-ups, race/class shame and self-hate, how are individuals expected to be open to a meaningful connection?

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