By Sabrina Almeida
Wedding or pre-marriage detectives now run booming businesses in India. With love marriages on the rise and more individuals finding their partners via the Internet, parents want to ensure that prospects have not falsified information about their status, income or social background and that their children are not being duped. Interestingly enough some of these checks even extend to the prospective mother-in-law. A good move since disagreements between brides and their mothers-in-law often have dire consequences.
Private investigators spend hours trailing wedding prospects and documenting evidence. Their findings could ultimately make or break a marriage.
Concerns range from age and employment to previous and current relationships as well as character verification (meaning habits surrounding drinking, smoking, drugs and prostitution).
Some agencies even provide international investigative services in the Gulf region, Far East, Europe, UK and North America where prospects might work or live. This makes a lot of sense since long distance relationships escape normal social scrutiny and many individuals have been found to be living double lives, marrying for dowry and to upgrade their status. I’m sure you know of at least one person who has done that.
Is this an invasion of privacy? Opinions are divided. Families feel they have a right to know and that prospects have nothing to fear if they are telling the truth. The individual who is under scrutiny might not approve. But most would agree that since there is no real concept of privacy in India this could hardly become an issue.
How accurate are these reports? Most detectives present lengthy testimonials to vouch for their credibility.
Will this prevent fraud marriages and spouse abuse? It’s hard to say. While criminal, financial and character checks are certainly important, compatibility which is a major cause of marital discord, is largely ignored. To be honest, who can really vouch for that?
Nonetheless, having some information is better being totally in the dark. Inflated resumes, clandestine relations and opportunists who seek wealthy partners are a reality.
Arranged marriages come with their own system of checks, viz. the matchmaker and a never-ending stream of references from relatives and neighbours, and are less likely to require the services of a detective. Yet these are also not foolproof. I know of more than one case where the man had a history of being abusive but individuals who were privy to this information chose not to interfere and kept silent. As a result the wife was left to discover the ugly truth the hard way. Would a private investigator have been able to uncover his true nature? I’m not so sure as it would have involved spending considerable time in his home and with his family. Is that even possible?
Whether or not parents will let character references (or assassination) get in the way of what they consider to be a “good catch” is also another matter to contend with. Often good advice is misconstrued as jealousy or worse still sour grapes if the party that has come forward has children of marriageable age as well. Detectives however believe that once they have handed over the files their job is done.
After hearing about the new trend of hiring wedding detectives I turned to Google to do some investigation of my own. Usually the search engine is area specific and will offer local suggestions. Yet my search efforts for “wedding detectives” and “pre-marriage/matrimonial detectives” brought a slew of services across India from Mumbai to Bangalore as if to confirm popularity. This leads me to conclude that this concept is not a familiar one to North America. Perhaps it’s a good business idea considering the growing South Asian population.
While trends indicate that more prospective grooms come under scrutiny than brides, this is not to say women have squeaky clean reputations. I have come across a few who think nothing of having affairs weeks or days before their wedding. Which brings to mind the question as to when and for how long should a said individual be tracked. Perhaps marriages should come with a disclaimer.
While the idea of a wedding or pre-marriage detective might still seem alien to me I do believe it is smart one. Better to be safe than sorry! After all it is preferable to have a man or woman investigated before the nuptial knot is tied than trying to untangle yourself after.