Seema Singh was happy. After months of looking for a suitable match for her daughter, facing multiple challenges, arranging meetings with respectable families and completing background verifications, her family was finally attending a ring ceremony. Her joy, however, was short-lived. Soon after, she faced gratuitous demands from the groom’s people, including one for a high-end car and several financial favours. Singh did not wait a day to call off the engagement. “It was a decision we had to make,” she states. “When I look back, I am happy that we took the step and stood against such a socio-cultural norm.”
The 53-year-old, who had been a homemaker for a major part of her life, started thinking about the other numerous families who were faced with a similar dilemma and who were unable to do anything about it. Before she knew it, she was setting up a matchmaking portal – No Dowry Shaadi (NDS). “As the name suggests, this portal is our attempt to create an online introduction service that advocates no demand for dowry in the hope of curbing the social evil and to encourage people to respect women and treat them as equals,” she says.
While Singh had no clue about how to go about setting up a business or operating it, she was determined to see it through. She had the full support of her family and, after due research, she registered the domain on GoDaddy and started the long-drawn process. That was in 2018. There were struggles, but Singh was undeterred. “Very few members registered during our initial days; awareness was lacking, there was only word of mouth. A few months later, our social media promotions paid off, and the site saw a good response. Today, NDS has several success stories to tell.
“This brings to the fore the fact that a lot of like-minded families are against the concept of dowry. Many have told me how they strongly support our cause. Interestingly, while registering, we always encourage the groom or his family to mention their disinterest in dowry under the ‘About me’ section,” she says.
Since Singh started from scratch with a unique idea in mind, she aims to learn from the biggies who already exist in the online matchmaking business, instead of looking at them as competition. “After setting up NDS, I would say to other homemakers that everything is possible. Think differently. Think unique. Set your goals and try to take action. Being a housewife, if I can come up with something that is being recognised and appreciated, so can you.”
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