‘Indian Matchmaking’s’ Sima Taparia’s Mantra For Successful Marriage – Giving, Sharing, Caring
Photo:Taparia is currently in California and will be sharing advice during a Meet and Greet to be held in January 9 at the Sheraton Cerritos Hotel in Cerritos.
By REENA RATHORE
CERRITOS, CA – When longtime matchmaker Sima Taparia embraced the opportunity to star in the Netflix series, “Indian Matchmaking,” she could not foresee the fame that would follow. The Mumbaikar who has worked full-time matching couples for the last 18 years, became an overnight celebrity leading to a wave of clients after the show premiered in 2020.
It’s easy to swipe right, but in real life, it’s not quite as easy to get it right. In the age of dating apps, Taparia guides clients in the U.S. and India in the arranged marriage process, offering an inside look at the custom in a modern era.
After the first season, Taparia gained instant popularity as Sima Aunty, with her catchphrase, “Hi, I am Sima Taparia from Mumbai,” generating traction on social media.
“Everyone in 190 countries is watching the show, they are liking it and that’s a proud moment for India. Everyone is saying ‘Simaji, you have put India on the world map.’ Everybody’s saying, ‘Oh! This is how arranged marriage happens and this is how the Indian values are,” Taparia told India-West, “It was trending number one and wherever you go they know who Sima Taparia is. They love her, they respect her which is what I have wanted since childhood. I got love and respect from the world and fame and recognition were just the byproducts, but I was not working for that. I was passionate about my work.”
Mundhra previously worked with Taparia on “A Suitable Girl,” the 2017 documentary exploring the institution of arranged marriages in India. In the film, the lives of three women, Ritu – Taparia’s daughter – Dipti, and Amrita, who are educated, financially stable, and raised with a mix of traditional and contemporary values in the urban cities of Mumbai and New Delhi, take a dramatic turn when the pressure to settle down and get married hits.
“Smriti and we are family related. She came with her father, and mother for her match and when she saw my way of working, she found it very interesting and thought of making a documentary,” Taparia recalled.
After the film earned rave reviews, Mundhra decided to further explore the time-honored tradition of matchmaking and reached out to Taparia.
“I never dreamt anything about the show. After ‘A Suitable Girl’ got awarded at Tribeca, they planned to make a reality show on the untouched topic of arranged marriage which is not there anywhere in the world except in a few countries, including India,” Taparia said. “They said we want you because I’m a matchmaker and we want to show the world the reality. I’m a typical Indian lady with Indian values and what you see on the show is who I am so I’m very proud that I’m spreading my Indian values to the world, to all the youngsters in all the colleges… the Indian values are vanishing. Now, I mean, to a certain extent, the youngsters say that since Seema aunty is saying so it must be that you have to adjust, you have to compromise since you will get only 60 percent which now they’re understanding and now they’re saying they want to do arranged marriage.”
Everybody who she works with has different criteria and circumstances. But Taparia does not mince words as she reminds these hopeful singles that marriage and compromise go hand in hand, and they need to find common ground, be flexible, and dilute their ego.
“I tell them you have to compromise in every way. Don’t you compromise in your office or your house or anywhere; I just tell them when we are at the airport and the flight is late, what do you do? You just sit there, either read a magazine or work on your laptop, have coffee… you have to do it because you cannot rush the pilot and say, ‘Please take me soon.’ Everywhere, from offices to schools to colleges, you compromise… then why not in our family life, in our married life? If we compromise then only life will go smoothly,” Taparia reasoned.
She went on to add that the institution of marriage has existed for thousands of years but “it’s diminishing because the youth today have a lot of exposure, they have financial independence, they have a career, so they don’t want to listen to anybody.”
“I give them only one advice: giving, sharing, taking, and caring, these four things if we follow then the problem of divorce and depression will not come,” Taparia continued while theorizing that balancing your personal life and family life is the key. “If you follow this then you will you not have any problems but if you are running from that then of course you’ll have the problems in life.”
One of the biggest misconceptions is that an arranged marriage equals a forced marriage but that could not be further from the truth, said Taparia, adding “We give the options, and you meet them and when it’s okay then you can proceed. Nothing is done forcefully.”
Unlike generic dating apps, the beauty of matchmaking, she added, lies in the fact that it caters to specific needs thereby lending a human touch.
Taparia’s role as a matchmaker is quite professionalized and she conducts a thorough vetting process after creating a profile and learning about their pre-requisites. That includes doing a deep dive into their lifestyle and family values by meeting candidates and their families in their own homes when possible since she has clients in the U.S., U.K. Dubai, and Hong Kong, among other countries.
“I meet them, I scan them, I ask the criteria and then I filter them because people go by my goodwill. They have confidence in me,” Taparia said. “I treat them as my son and daughter. That is very, very important. This is not a business. Recently, I went to a person’s house in Jaipur just to see his way of living and how their parents are talking, etc. Naturally with that only I can match some other family, right? By just passing the biodata, nothing will happen.”
Taparia, who had an arranged marriage 40 years ago, initially started setting people up as a hobby and the success led her to create a business out of it, with support from her husband, whom she described as her “pillar of strength” and her two daughters one of whom was featured in “A Suitable Girl” and is settled in Dubai. She is looking for potential matches for her second daughter and will happen when its “destined.”
“Since childhood, I had a unique ability to talk to people and connect with them. I was good at remembering relationships, or rishtas and so in 2005 I thought of doing matchmaking which is very important in India and would be a great help to the community…people who are hunting for the matches they can take my help and it’ll become easy for them,” Taparia said. “From a very conservative Marwadi family, I started this and my husband and my daughters guided me and helped me step by step.”
She insisted that the show is unscripted and the singles who are featured are serious about commitment and are encouraged to be themselves.
“The production company screens candidates. It’s not easy to come on this show. In this reality TV, everything is real and no dialogue is given to us. In the show, I’m just like how I am in real life and the only difference is that cameras are following us. Everything is from the heart,” Taparia told India-West.
However, the low success rate of these alliances does not “bother” her as Netflix solely wanted to showcase the arranged marriage system, Taparia stated.
“It didn’t promise that in 5 months you are going to match somebody. You tell me how is it possible to match people only in five months?” Taparia commented. “But already two or three people have been finalized.”
Her advice to those looking to enter long-term relationships is to be patient and keep their expectations in check.
“I always tell them that you will not get 100 percent on your checklist you see what you’re getting is 60 percent. In India, we also see families and all, but that trend is not there in the U.S.,” Taparia shared, adding that Indian Americans hope to continue meeting potential matches for a year or two before deciding, a scenario she does not approve.
“I tell them ‘No, you cannot go on for so long. You have to decide in five-six meetings whether it’s a yes or no.’ In the U.S and abroad, I’ve seen that they are pickier as compared to India and so I tell them to lower their expectations if they want success, else they’ll go on meeting people and continue going on dates. They are understanding the concept now,” Taparia told India-West. “Their criteria ranges from education to wavelength to compatibility.”
As she is adjusting to the attention, Taparia is “grateful” for all the love and hopes to expand her reach and serve a wider audience.
“Becoming an overnight celebrity is not easy. It’s all hard work, passion and god’s grace. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude to God…and I never dreamt or anybody never dreamt that the show will rock the world,” an ecstatic Taparia said. “Currently, I cater to only Indians…Hindu Indians and if God is willing, I can spread my wings and can cater to other communities also. I am there to help people and if someone gets success, I will get blessings in return.”