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Social media rearranges arranged marriages

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

You are cordially invited to hear the story of how arranged marriages still exist in the city of Houston. However, experts say the Internet is rearranging the whole tradition and now it's referred to as "self-arranged marriage."

"We got married in June 19th, 1978. The whole ceremony was beautiful and I haven't forgotten any of it at all," said Sudha Mani.

She's been married 34 years and recalls that very special day in Bangalore, India. Mani admits it wasn't love at first sight but there was definitely an attraction.

She was only 19 years old when her father arranged for her to meet a man by the name of Ravi Mani.

"My father is a doctor, and my husband was in medical school. He had noticed this young man who was at the top of his class. He was an outgoing student, but before we actually met, our families met, and that is very important in the arranged marriage situation."

Anjali Kanojia is the assistant director for India studies at the University of Houston.

Kanojia says, "It's common practice in the Indian culture, parents of girls as young as 18 begin looking for possible suitors. High standards are set when investigating their education, family background even astrology sign. A lot of our actions, including our birth, is guided by the planets."

She explains how "arranged marriages" still exist, but it's not as prevalent with internet sites like Shaddi.com which prove the old tradition has evolved into what's now referred to as "self-arranged marriage."

"People list their cast, their religion, what languages they speak, whether they are meat eaters or not, whether they drink alcohol, so all of this... it matters."

It's all about compatibility, says Kanojia who also believes that could be the reason why the divorce rate is so low among Indian American couples.

Even then times have certainly changed in that separating or "divorcing" is no longer as taboo.

"We're friends... he loves my work," says Ruchi Mukherjee , editor and founder of lights camera action (an online lifestyle magazine). She moved here to Houston after an arranged marriage but admits it eventually ended in divorce.

"I had a very outgoing personality, and we were two very different people," she says while smiling about their greatest gift, her daughter, Aryika.

"She understands that we are not together but she is just a happy perfect kid." She's only 7 and not old enough to date but already Mukherjee says there will be no arrangef requirement.

The same goes for the daughter of Sangeeta and Arun Pasrija.

"My daughter, I would be thrilled if she marries an Indian, but I know that that's a remote possibility...it's not a criteria for her, the world is open."

That even includes marrying outside of the Indian American culture and those are words from one of the first couples to host an Indian Style wedding here in Houston.

"I remember the whole day of ceremonies. My head was hurting holding the thing because you put it on your head."

The Pasrija's met here in the United States and their parents knew each other already so now it was up to them.

"I knew that something was going on, he kept looking at me and umm so he proposed."

That was three days after meeting.

"I can't still figure that out so something came about where I just knew that...this is it," said Arrun.

Sangeeta says she always knew arranged marriage was in the cards but says,

"I always used to hope and wish that I fall in love ....like I want a marriage of love, not just because my parents asked me to marry this guy."

That's why Sangeeta says she got very lucky, after 27 years they're still in love and very committed.

Now they hope their children find the same happiness knowing times has re-arranged arranged marriages.

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