Is the 'swayamvar' back in India, where the tradition of a bride choosing her groom began thousands of years ago and is recorded in the great epics? Perhaps. The trappings are all there, the need recognized. The enthusiasm is there too.
The huge hall is decorated with flowers and fragrant with burning joss sticks. Hundreds of friends and relatives are dressed in their best, there is auspicious music as astrologers match horoscopes - but this almost as an afterthought.
The choices were mostly made, only the exchanging of the garlands remained, as 2,500 prospective brides and grooms from nine Tamil Nadu communities gathered in one of the Chennai's biggest halls last week to check each other out.
Instead of their archery skills, as they did in the past, the prospective grooms flaunted their US green cards.
Some among the prospective brides were dressed in branded jeans, high heels, their lipsticks perfumed and their ornaments from designer jewellers. They looked as self-assured as Mahabharata's maidens - they were IT professionals, doctors and teachers.
With full knowledge and great aspiration they had all come for TamilMatrimony.com's Mega Swayamvaram 2007, touted as one of the largest matrimony shows by BharatMatrimony Center, which hosts one of India's largest matrimony portals BharatMatrimony.com.
To wish them well were veteran Tamil actor and DMK stalwart Bhagyaraj and Poornima Bhagyaraj, who inaugurated the daylong jamboree that about 10,000 Tamil-speaking people attended.
Gushed Princess Madhavi, a 27-year-old working for a multinational in Bangalore: "My mother insisted that I should come down to Chennai for the swayamvaram. The environment was absolutely fantastic.
"The meet has helped me shortlist a few profiles (prospective grooms) within a span of a couple of hours, which would not have been possible otherwise."
Even if today's woman is a professional and modern, she recognises the need to get married and what better way to find a groom than with hundreds of others, which did away with any personal embarrassment and agony a girl may have feared.
Said a groom: "I feel that for busy professionals like me, the meet has saved lots of time and the strain involved in shortlisting prospective brides and visiting their residences."
"At the swayamvaram I shortlisted about five profiles, and in due course of time, my parents will finalise my life partner," said 24-year-old Karthik, a participant.
The organisers said this was a first of its kind matrimony meet in India.
The event was conducted in three different sessions for the respective communities. There was also an exclusive session for members who chose the 'Caste No Bar' category.
Adding to the prospects were traditional astrology services for match making -the Kili Jyotisium, Chozhi Jyotisium, Kole Jyotisium - and many other kinds of practitioners of the craft posted at the venue.
The families exchanged contact numbers and photographs.
"We will be conducting similar swayamvarams across India in the coming months," said Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and CEO of the BharatMatrimony Group.
Explaining how it worked, Janakiraman said that BharatMatrimony had categorised the participants into nine different groups, based on their community, and allocated different time slots for each community.
A matrimony directory was specially printed for the occasion, containing the profiles and horoscopes of participants. Each community was allotted one-and a-half hours to meet the shortlisted families. Each profile was given a registration number and during the event, a table space was provided to each member to interact with the individual members and the families of their choice.
"We have conducted 27 successful matrimony meets over the last six months for different communities across India," said Uday Zokarkar, business head, BharatMatrimony Centre.
One of India's leading Internet companies, BharatMatrimony.com was established in 1997. It has developed expertise and a successful business model to provide world-class matrimony services. With over nine million members worldwide, BharatMatrimony.com recently entered the Limca Book of Records for facilitating the highest number of marriages among marriage portals.