Dating apps cater to South Asians looking for love

Most swiping for love on a dating app knows the drill.

Write a strategically attractive self-description. Define the filters – age and geographic proximity – for potential partners. Perhaps intent is announced: Looking for something serious? informality?

Dating app Mirchi offers another possibility: “Auntie made me sign up.”

The choice is part joke, part knowledge is a nod to the audience. Unlike mainstream apps like Tinder or Bumble, Mirchi is among the growing world of dating apps created by and catering to South Asians. more than 5 million People of South Asian descent—from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives—call the American home, mostly on the western and eastern coasts.

For many children of immigrants from South Asia, apps provide a practical tool for navigating the winding love paths of their cultures, loving their families, and finding the love of their lives.

Mirchi, which means “spice” in multiple South Asian languages, was launched in 2020 in Los Angeles. Before Mirchi, there was Dil Mil, which launched in 2014 in San Francisco. Del Mill translates to “meeting of hearts.”

The platforms feature dropdown menus that attempt to capture and categorize the huge diversity of South Asia, and offer check boxes for Tamil, Bengali, Gujarati and Punjabi (the list goes on). They ask about religion too: Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains (the list, again, goes on).

Through these questions Sumitra Tatabody found love.

Tatabody grew up living between Mumbai and San Jose. The 31-year-old’s parents, like many immigrants from South Asia, were in an arranged marriage. The process of arranging marriage varies, but in general, this means that your parents or relatives help you choose your partner.

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Persuasive storytelling presentation from the Los Angeles Times.

After dipping her feet in the process of arranged marriage, Tatapudy could not dive into it. “I realized on a call with a guy from an arranged marriage place that it would be very difficult for me to decide when to say yes. Like, at what point?” she said. “If our goal isn’t just to fall in love somehow, how do you know that?”

Then she dated someone outside of her culture. “He was a wonderful guy, but he was Caucasian, and he opened that kind of can for a lot of really hard times with my dad,” Tatabody said.

Her parents would ask her, “Would it be convenient for us to come? Will you feel comfortable bringing your music and your dance and all these other aspects of yourself?”

Ultimately, the weight of cultural gaps and the pressure of working as a bridge between her partner and her parents, as well as the natural ups and downs of a new relationship, were too much to bear. She said, “The issues we got… I had to explain a lot.” “There is no natural kind of understanding of things, right?”

Then Tatapudy did what many people in their twenties would do: It turned to dating apps.

She was familiar with Coffee Meets Bagel – and went on to “what sounded like a million dates” – but at the suggestion of a friend, she downloaded Dil Mil. She already realized that she went on more dates with Indian men anyway, and the dating app made the process more efficient.

Dil Mil encourages communication through culture. When users are asked to highlight personality traits, descriptors such as ‘chai mustache’, ‘Bollywood orange’ and ‘bhangra dance’ are sprinkled among generic adjectives such as ‘carefree’, ‘charismatic’ and ‘considerate’.

In some ways, the dating app scene wasn’t far from her parents’ orchestrated marriage traditions. Tatabody said that you can talk to several people during the arranged marriage process before settling on someone.

Dil Mil may still require a slight leap of faith akin to an arranged marriage: The app offers options across the country, not just in your area, as mainstream apps do. This means that you may be talking to someone for weeks before meeting them in person.

For Tatapudy and her now-husband, that didn’t prove to be a problem. I matched Sandheep Venkataraman in 2018 after about six months on the application. (His profile said whoever swipes right will be on a lot of Costco rides, and she shared her story while in a Costco parking lot.)

“While we were talking, he talked about going to Abdulrahman Concert, and I said, “Oh my God, that’s cool, there’s hope, he loves A.R. Rahman,” she said, referring to her love for the famous Indian composer.

After about two months of matching on the app, they met up for coffee in San Francisco. A few months later, he met her parents over dinner in San Jose. By April 2019, they were engaged. They married in November 2021 in her parents’ backyard in San Jose.

“You can communicate really well with someone from a completely different culture, and I support that 100%,” she said. “But I wanted it to be easier for me. It’s great to have someone who can express the emotional differences of being from two different cultures and feel understood and feel accepted in that.”

Shaadi.com is one of the original South Asian online dating giants. Founded in India in 1996, its name translates to wedding.com.

By their mid-twenties, South Asians were often in the United States and abroad They are dodgy and evasive suggestions for shaadi.com profile assembly, and jokes about moms creating profiles for their kids always remain.

New website and apps still serve a perpetual need. As in most immigrant societies, the generation of South Asians who grew up in the United States often deal with eternal negotiations about connecting the bridges between the motherland and present land.

American society is very individualistic. So the idea of ​​an arranged marriage is as far as you can get from American expectations of dating and life. These are supposed to be your decisions, right? said Rifaat Salam, associate professor of sociology at the City University of New York.

“In South Asian culture, you put your family into consideration in the choices you make,” Salam added. “The app gives you real autonomy. You can filter the choices yourself, but you can do so without straying too far from those choices. [family] expectations.”

Dil Mil founder and CEO KJ Dhaliwal built on that idea, saying that “with the advent of products like Tinder and Bumble, there was a clear opportunity” for a South Asian dating platform (without the looming marriage pressures that Shaadi.com points out).

In Del Mill’s preliminary research, the team found that “more than 80% of South Asians date and marry within their own community,” Dhaliwal said. “They tend to look for partners of the same upbringing and a similar cultural background, because it gives them this kind of deep-rooted need for identity and cultural preservation.”

He said Dil Mil has a primary market in the US, UK and Canada, but declined to share the number of monthly active users. Del Mail Acquired by Dating.com Group In 2019. The deal amounted to the company up to 50 million dollars.

Ultimately, the app will serve purposes beyond romance. “We are working on a societal advantage at the moment,” Dhaliwal said, adding that there is “enough demand” among South Asians looking for friendships as well.

Dil Mil, Mirchi, and Shaadi.com are free, although all three platforms offer enhanced features, such as the ability to “like” more profiles, which users can pay to access.

Dating app Mirchi says it has 70,000 monthly active users, and Ali Tehranian, one of the app’s founders, said it aims to add a “new flavor” to the South Asian dating scene.

The app integrates South Asian culture into its aesthetics. When you open it, a hand decorated with henna greets you with throwing red and orange flower petals, a practice at some South Asian weddings.

The light profile asks users which South Asian foods they prefer over the other (idli or dosa?), the Bollywood song is the “soundtrack of your life” or whether they are a big fan of Priyanka Chopra or Deepika Padukone (two major Bollywood film actresses).

The seed for the application was planted at the University of California, Irvine, where Tehrani was a student.

On-campus performances of traditional Punjabi dance, Tehranian said, have brought the entire Punjabi community together: to dance and, in the end, just be amongst each other.

“People are still embracing the traditions and values ​​of past generations,” he said. Even among the younger generations, he said, the culture remains “deeply rooted” and closeness to each other continues, and an app like Mirchi can facilitate this process.

For Adel Sheikh, the dating platform of choice was Shaadi.com. Or, more accurately, it was his mother’s choice.

She did an account without the sheikh knowing (it’s really no joke sometimes) and this is where Safiya Josla found it.

For Sheikh, 38, and Ghosla, 39, Shaadi.com proved to be the vehicle they needed on their “hybrid” dating journey – not an arranged marriage but not dating in the traditional American sense either.

“Right after I got out of college, my mom created my Shaadi.com profile, and when she found out I was there, I was OK, let me edit all this stuff — like, ‘Oh my God, who is this guy you’re describing?’ laughed the sheikh.

He’s tried other methods too: Minder, an Islamic dating app; arrangements arranged by his aunts and uncles; even local Al-Rashta Wali or matchmaker. No one he met was a perfect fit.

Eventually, Shaadi.com started sending emails to Gosla referring to Sheikh’s profile. “Exhaustion of ads” eventually led to her liking his profile.

Adel Sheikh accepts his wife Safia. Their first date was in July, and they married in November at a mosque in Orange County.

(Milcon/Los Angeles Times)

“All emails will still get to my mom,” the sheikh said. “So when Safiye sent me an interest, my mom came knocking on my door, like, ‘Hey, this girl is interested. Check it out, she lives near you. She was wearing the sari in her profile, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a very nice saree to wear.’ “

Their first date was in July (in Houston in Irvine), and it turns out that their relationship was years in the making.

“When I asked him where his father came from, his father was from the same small village as my father, and they knew each other as children, so our grandparents knew each other,” said Gusla.

After exactly 45 dates (the couple recorded each date in a notebook), they married in November at a mosque in Orange County.

And according to Gosla, in the end, dating apps are not much different from local ones Al-Rashta Wali. It is just a hypothetical version based on the algorithm. “Shaadi.com was our matchmaker,” she laughed.

Of course, apps aren’t magic for everyone. For Rhea Jain, 26, it’s a passive way to please her eager parents for a wedding. For 36-year-old, divorced Deep Agarwal, it’s an embarrassing attempt to re-enter the “too overwhelming” world of dating after a decade-long hiatus.

And for Prince Singh, 27, dating apps from South Asia offer the potential to break barriers. Women on mainstream platforms may have preconceived notions about his choice to wear a turban, so when Del Mill crossed his radar, he was hopeful.

But nothing has been clicked yet. He said there is no difference between South Asian dating apps and mainstream dating apps in this sense. You can worship in the same ways or speak the same languages, but this does not guarantee chemistry.

Until then, perhaps the cure is simple: Keep hitting.

Watch the LA Times today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live on the Spectrum News app. Palos Verdes and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on Channel 99.

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