Could New Dating Trends In India Help Turn Its Caste System Into A Thing Of The Past?

How India’s new generation of singles is casting aside the caste system.

In India, more and more young people are putting aside tradition while in the pursuit of love. Beyond just eschewing arranged marriages or having casual sex, they’re interested in dating outside of their caste or regional ethnicity not just for the sake of modernity but in pursuit of finding the real thing.

It’s a big deal.

The caste system has dictated social norms in Indian culture for millennia.

The earliest reference to the caste system is in the Manusmriti, an ancient book regarding Hindu law practices that dates back to at least 1000 B.C. Although there are four main categories, each is further divided into tens of thousands of sub-castes that dictate social norms and segregation between communities.

Although discriminatory practices and the “untouchables” categories are outlawed, this form of status is still ingrained in tradition. However, they’re usually seen as an indication of culture than hierarchy.

“It’s about removing friction in a relationship, simply reducing the chances of two people having uncomfortable differences of opinion,” mentions one 2012 report by PRI’s The World. “Caste as an indicator of commonality in terms of things such as food, tradition or culture.”

Matrimonial websites modernized the efficiency of dating while also reinforcing the caste system.

Internet dating has been around in India for some time, first in the form of matrimonial websites that reinforce the typical steps of arranged marriages.

Amour Life, one of India’s biggest traditional dating sites, gave users more choices but reinforced traditions.

“Matrimonial dating sites achieved huge levels of popularity under the caste system as a method to increase the potential marriage pool within someone’s caste,” it says on its website.

modern dating in India

As casual dating apps like Tinder and Woo started to permeate the mainstream, so have more modernized ideas around dating.

Despite cultural pressure from traditional Indian cultural norms, many young people are turning to their smart phones in pursuit of love. Although change is slow, it is stead.

“Exposure to western culture has seen the gradual breakdown of the traditional Indian family,” reports The Guardian. “Arranged marriages have become less formal; more people are choosing to live in separate homes to their parents or in-laws; and dating and sex out of wedlock are becoming increasingly common.”

Now young people in India are also interested in getting outside of their regional culture or caste.

In a new documentary by Online Personals Watch editor Mark Brooks, young people in India open up about their dating habits — including their desire to look for love in new communities.

Gaurav, who is interviewed in the film and featured in the clip above, describes how his parents reinforce the traditional thoughts about dating within the caste system tradition.

“See, I’m a Punjabi, so my parents would demand a Punjabi girl for me,” he says. “I am not into all these things. Personally, I would use something like Woo because I want to interact with people first and then come to a conclusion rather than just deciding that I want to marry and I want to meet new people. I would rather meet new people and then decide to marry.”

Another single person featured, Pranjal, agrees and explains how it relates to a larger cultural shift.

“My generation, in a way, we are more open-minded,” she says. “Yes, my parents expect me to find a partner the typical way. But, no. That doesn’t work for me.”

Do these new opinions indicate a change in Indian cultural attitudes toward the caste system?

The popularity of digital dating techniques has changed so much about modern life across the globe. Can it compete with millennia of cultural norms? Only time — and swipes — can tell.

This article is one in a series on modern Indian dating

How The World’s Oldest Indian Dating Site Helped Them Find Love

When one couple found each other on, they had everything working against them. Yet, they still found love.

“I wrote a very lengthy letter to her and tried to woo her with my words,” Darshan told Online Personals Watch editor Mark Brooks. Brooks has compiled a documentary on Indian dating. “Because that’s all you got apart from your profile picture.”

When he and his wife Pooja met she was searching for someone after a divorce. He had never been married. Darshan explained that there was a dramatic difference between those seeking a hookup and those seeking marriage.

“You know, there are a lot of freeloaders on the net, I realized,” she told Brooks. “The people who don’t pay for the websites, they are the ones who are actually there to fool around. So, I feel that, you know, don’t go for the free profiles because when someone’s paying it really makes a difference.”

While both of them set up their own accounts and were interacting with each other, some searching for the perfect mate end up with their parents creating their dating profiles. In the first installment of this series, we heard from one woman who opened her email only to discover an email conversation between her father and the father of a young man. Darshan and Pooja, however, went a different route.

The world’s oldest dating service helped them find love.

Many users of personals sites believe the same in the United States. Sites like, eHarmony, JDate and even fetish sites like FetLife all allow paid accounts that unlock a higher level of commitment to the dating adventure. While it isn’t necessarily always the case, those who are paying for matchmaking services or an online dating profile are usually seen as being more serious about finding a long term match. is an online wedding service founded by Anupam Mittal in the late 1990s. While the majority of its market is India, it operates globally to serve anyone willing to join. With over 35 million users, the site only allows you to message people with their premium service. As  Pooja explained, the ones that are there to fool around aren’t paying to contact you.

Get rid of the wish list you have in your mind.

“Scrap off your wish list,” Pooja said about finding the right person. According to her, Darshan was different. First, the two were “poles apart,” which made her think they were already sunk. Already, because she is divorced, it limits her options, she explained.

Then, he sent the long and passionate email that made her think again.

She had a list of “criteria of what [a] husband should be,” she said. “Just destroy it, throw it. It doesn’t work.”

Sometimes having a list of things you want means you end up limiting your options. It might be one of the main reasons that a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>the online dating world has flipped India’s caste system. For thousands of years, those in each caste only married within that caste. Today, a new generation of Indian youth are searching for another world. For Pooja and Darshan, that meant being willing to try anything to find a partner.

>Whether it’s a caste system, a demand your lover be a certain height or weight or even seeking out a nice doctor, consider looking outside your criteria. Pooja and Darshan knew that the right match can come from anywhere. Darshan wanted Pooja to take his interest seriously and give him consideration despite the differences. Anything is possible in love!

Read more from this series with Part 1: In India Your Parents Run Your Dating Profiles to Find You Dates and Part 2: Could New Dating Trends In India Help Turn Its Caste System Into A Thing Of The Past?.