Prior to dating and marrying my husband who is South Asian, I had never heard of the term biodata. He had hesitantly mentioned to me that his parents wanted to have his biodata done before we were engaged. Yet he was swift to let them know the biodata route was not for him. Instead, he wanted to have a love marriage. So what is biodata exactly?
What Is Biodata
Biodata is short for biographical data. It is a paper biography of your life inclusive of personal/physical attributes (names, age, height, weight, sex), astrological sign/timing of birth, religion, nationality, family history and background, education, and more. Hence in the simplest of terms, biodata is a resume for marriage. On the resume is everything about you so that your parents can pick the perfect partner for you.
Your biodata is traditionally completed after you have finished college, you are stable in your career, and prior to the age of 30. According to the Indian Guy BlogSpot, “if your an Indian these are 2 of the most scariest words you’ll ever hear. It officially signifies that your youth has passed, your still single, and your parents are tired of hearing questions about why you’re not married yet.
Indian parents have developed an intricate “laissez-faire” system, to do everything in their power to get their child married off before the age of 30. It’s quite simple the way it works. During the life of their child, they will not permit their children to date, and make them focus on “studies”. Then when their child is socially inept and sent off to college, they will hope the child finds their significant other there. When this does not happen, they panic, and around the age of 26 or 27 if the child is still single they will ask the child to make a BioData or a resume of themselves which they can show other people.”
Why Biodata Today
For most South Asian families arranged marriages are still the norm with love marriages being on the rise. In the words, of Kumail Nanjiani from the Big Sick, “this is a 400+-year-old tradition we are talking about.” Biodata is the preferred tool to help parents find a “suitable life partner” for their child/children. Per the Shazia Channel, “even Wikipedia notes the importance of biodatas in South Asian Culture. Online matchmaking and dating sites are now “in” but they certainly do not replace the paper version. One may hear of the occasional snail mail exchange in various parts of the world or even the physical hand-to-hand delivery method.” Biodata customarily looks very professional and it is said that it takes around 50-60 hours of time to complete. This is extremely important because allegedly it can impact how many marriage prospects you get. What does it look like? It looks like these documents shown below.
True Life Biodata Lessons (Confessions)
To gain an even greater understanding of the biodata process, I asked some multiracial/multicultural couples if they had had their biodata done. And if so, what happened? Check out these eye-opening answers and experiences.
Responder 1: “I had a bunch sent to me. It’s basically a resume for marriage. Your hobbies, education, spiritual belief, caste, etc. I literally had at least 100 sent to me. They were entertaining, lol.”
Question for responder 1: What did you do with them after you received them?
Responder 1: “All my cousins wanted to go through them and pick their favorites, as well as my parents. I read through them but really felt it was not a tool for me in finding a mate. Then I had to start dodging the forced meetings my parents set up. Ugh.”
Question for responder 1: Where was your biodata published? And what made you feel that it was not the right tool for you?
Responder 1: ” Mine was not published but my relatives were “taking apps” as I was the ripe age of 24, and visiting back home for my older cousins wedding. It wasn’t for me because at the time I wanted that fairytale love, not mechanical.”
Responder 2: “Smh…yes I had one done and published before I met my husband. I had many sent to me as well. I actually had a marriage prospect out of it. Yet after talking to his overbearing mom, I nipped that in the bud. So, a biodata is a description of one who is looking to get married, much like the want ads. Lol, and it describes your complexion as well! Since I’m more of a “dusky” skin tone, my other attributes are played up more to attract a potential husband. It’s crazy!”
Question for responder 2: How was yours published?
Responder 2: “They were published in the matrimonial section of some popular Indian newspapers in the States as well as in India.”
Question for responder 2: Who created your biodata?
Responder 2: “My aunt in the U.S. I had just graduated from pharmacy school and it was time?”
Responder 3: “Ahhh yes…the “bio-data”…
“So, several years ago in December of 2005, I had the opportunity to take a sabbatical from work. I had the good fortune of quitting my job to travel to India, specifically North India and volunteer at an orphanage…I left with the intentions of doing the volunteer thing and then meeting my parents in Kerala towards the end of my trip. It’s now May of 2006 and I land in Kerala and my parents and my uncle (dad’s brother) pick me up from the airport…
After we exchanged a few hugs and kisses I was literally handed about 450+ photos and letters followed by “we’ve narrowed them down to these so pick some from this stack, there’s more at home if you want to see the rest…” In my head, I was like “what the heck is going on right now?!?!?” My parents and uncle published my bio-data in the TOI (Times of India) this is a national newspaper, similar to the US’s New York Times or Washington Post. They basically with the help of my uncle published my “bio-data” for marriage, to sum it up it’s a “marriage resume”.
Many many people came to our home to “check out the product” (me), and we also went to see many of the girls as well as receiving tons of letters and emails and let me add in here a lot of the pictures we received were photoshopped – girls were made fairer-skinned than they actually were and thinner, etc. it was a show or it seemed more like a sales guy harassing you to get their “product” or lying to you about their product so you’ll show some interest…So before “catfishing” was popular with online dating websites here in the US they were doing it live in India.
When you put in any national newspaper in India “6’2, US Citizen, Computer Engineer, looking for a spouse” you’ll get flooded with mail, photos, phone calls and emails. I can’t speak for all of them, but a majority seemed like they were looking for a ticket or green card out.
Anyways, long story short towards the end of my trip, I left after a heated argument with my parents about how they met and had a “love marriage”. However, they want me to do it like the locals and have an arranged marriage. I ended up having a love marriage.”
A huge thank you to everyone that contributed to this article. Did you know about biodata? Did you have your biodata done and then decide that a love marriage was right for you? Feel free to comment below. Like our content? Subscribe!
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