An Atheist Affair
India is a land seemingly in love with the gods but where do the godless go for love? As with many other searches, the Internet seems to be the place to look, writes Alex Holland.
India is a land seemingly in love with the gods but where do the godless go for love? As with many other searches, the Internet seems to be the place to look. Sites such as atheist.matrimonialsindia.com are providing those without religion a way to find someone.
Posting under the title “Looking for an Atheist Life Partner”, Abhilash Pillai is an IT professional from Bangalore. “I’m looking for compatibility. I can’t stand it if someone is religious,” says the aspiring groom.
He says he couldn’t trust his family to find an atheist match for him. “They would just try and get me back into the faith by finding a pretty Hindu girl.” And he is quite hopeful the atheist matching services will help him out . “I cannot face the religious ceremonies at a traditional wedding and when I have kids I don’t want them to grow up Hindu,” says Pillai.
Some people on the site devote space to why they are atheists. Under the profile “A Male Atheist Looking for a Female Atheist” Shaheer Syrajudeen, an admin professional from Trivandrum, explains his move away from a very religious family after a process of scientific education. “Now I am an atheist, having strong financial background and good personality,” he writes on his profile.
Sunil Kumar Gupta is the director of Weblink India.net which runs atheist.matrimonialsindia.com along with more traditional matching sites. He says the idea to set up the site six years ago was born out of customer feedback, “ They kept suggesting it, so we started it.”
There do not appear to be too many of such customers. The site has about 50 atheist brides and grooms currently online. This is out of a total subscriber base of 50,000 for all their matching sites in total.
Less obvious but still present are the non-religious singles on the larger web-sites. For example, shaadi.com claims 10 per cent of its 10 million customers list themselves as having “no religion” or being “non-religious”.
Vibhas Mehta, shaadi.com's business head, says this percentage was probably even higher in the earlier days when more individuals posted profiles themselves. With more parents posting their children’s profiles now, the numbers listing “no religion” declined as, “parents are very bothered about community and religion, much more so than individuals.”
When asked why Shaadi doesn’t list “atheist” instead of “no religion,” Mehta replies: “Why do we want to make more communities? We’ve already got too many for God's sake.”
Atheist bachelor Pillai says he has networked with some women on the web but not met any so far in real life. One can be pretty sure that when he does, he won’t be praying to any gods for success.