Intricately embroidered outfits, dazzling jewellery, decorative mandaps (wedding canopies), bouquets, a very busy astrologer and even prospective brides or grooms -- the Indian Bridal Fair and 'singles meet' held in Sydney, was abuzz with activity and excitement.
But the highlight definitely was the first-ever 'singles meet' organised at the fair, which has become an annual spring event, held at the Olympic Park Showgrounds in Sydney over the weekend.
"It was a fantastic opportunity to meet your other half in the same city. Most Indians prefer to marry Indians so it was good to connect with other people of Indian origin living in Sydney. I ended up making many friends," said Sonal Bordia, who came to Australia in 1998 after completing a bachelors degree in electronics from Jaipur.
"Finding the right life partner is far more difficult than doing a masters and getting a good job", added Sonal, who has since done her M Tech and MBA and works as a senior analyst/programmer in an Australian government institution.
Coming from a traditional Jain family, Bordia said, "Such events should happen often as while most of us are professionally well settled, for our parents 'settled' implies being married and having a family."
About 65 participants tried their luck with the boys:girls ratio at 60:40 at the event organised by Bharatmatrimony.com.
"Profiles from Australia have grown by 150 percent online so we decided to give it a go. We are hoping to conduct four such meets in the coming year. There has been a lot of demand from people above 35 so our next meet will focus on them," said Seema Singh, Bharatmatrimony.com's international operations general manager, who had flown in from India for the meet.
The company has tried the US model, beginning with an ice-breaker session.
"As they mingle, the comfort level improves and then we have three-minute one-to-one sessions. We invited parents to join after the meet, which was much welcomed," explained Singh, who feels such meets help expand not only social, but also professional networking of singles.
"People have limited social and professional networks and we fill in to provide another platform for people to get together. I visualise a huge market in Australia in the next five years as the number of migrants and young professionals grow," Singh said.
For the growing number of fresh overseas Indian graduates seeking a life partner, the event didn't come cheap at $65, but it was an enjoyable experience.
The Bridal Fair had all the glitz and glamour associated with an Indian wedding under one roof -- exquisite wedding outfits, traditional and contemporary jewellery, and Devdas and Roman Pillar mandaps.
There were mock north and south Indian weddings, fashion parades and traditional Indian and Bollywood dances as well.
"It is the only fair of its kind in Australia. This is our third year and the number of exhibitors has grown to 60," said Nana Laxman, managing director of India Trade Centre that organised the event.
Melbourne-based India Trade centre is a consulting firm specialising in promoting trade between Australia and India in terms of joint ventures and trade exhibitions.
Laxman added: "We believe with the vast range and variety of quality bridal products and services available here, one no longer needs to go to India for trousseau shopping."
Sydney boasts of a diverse expatriate population with Indians from South Africa, Kenya, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore and Britain, besides the sub-continent.
According to Laxman, visitors to the fair have an average household income of over A$50,000 per annum, significantly more than the national average.
As many as 84 per cent of the visitors are aged between 21 and 40 years; 70 percent are female and Laxman even said 42 percent of them were likely to marry in the near future, and 53 percent of visitors comprise professionals and business people.