16-22 Oct, 2012
small world
The Matchmaker Priests

A suitable groom or bride can be cumbersome to find. Profiles on matrimonial websites can be bogus, and brokers are only interested in commissions. To deal with these issues, and ensure that people marry within the faith, a group of Catholic priests came up with a solution—their own matrimonial website.

Chavara Matrimony, managed by priests of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate Fathers (CMI) in Kochi, Kerala, is today a leading matchmaking portal for Catholics, with new members enrolling from various parts of the country and other nations. According to the portal, 1,200 to 1,500 new members sign up every month, with 50 to 60 successful matches taking place.

Initially started in 1996 as a list of names, addresses and photographs of those looking for a match that was put up on the notice board of the CMI’s Kochi office, the online version took shape two years later. “We would often get queries from families asking us if we knew of suitable grooms or brides. Then, the only option was matchmakers, who were only interested in making money. We tried to help these families by collecting names and addresses of those looking for matches. These requests increased, and we soon decided to expand this into a matrimonial website,” says Father Jose Panampuzha, assistant director of the website.

Many from the church and lay community were surprised when the priests founded the portal. “They said, ‘How can priests run a matrimonial website?’ Some even thought we wanted to make money,” Father Panampuzha says. The only charge is an annual registration fee of Rs 3,300. In the first few years, there were only a few members. “Many women did not even want to upload their photographs, apprehensive that it might be misused. But over the years, the numbers picked up,” he says.

The portal now runs a total of 12 centres across the state, with around 70 staff members. Those interested can call up or visit the centres to register themselves at the website. By December, another centre will be launched in Bangalore. The website also offers a bi-monthly meet between families interested in getting their children married. An annual Chavara Mega Marriage Meet is also organised every November, in which 500 to 700 families participate.

Take Two
The Comeback Joke
Quit only when you are sure, and once you do, stick to your decision

Quit only when you are sure, and once you do, stick to your decision

Kevin Pietersen is a terrific batsman. Though vain and mercenary, he is an original character and a crowd-puller. And cricket needs crowd-pullers. Also, KP is only 32 and has a few miles left in him. But his flip-flops over retirement have now become farcical. They are a classic example of the ways of some modern athletes, who retire and then do not stick to their decision. A retirement of a sports star is a momentous occasion for the star and his fans. There is a poetic melancholy to it. This is diluted when athletes make sundry retirements and comebacks.

Let us look at the chain of events in the Pietersen case. This May, KP impulsively retired from limited-overs cricket (excluding the moneylicious IPL). In August, during England’s Test series against South Africa, he suggested that his Test career for England could end soon as well. He told the BBC’s Test Match Special, “I can’t give any assurances [that the last Test of this series will not be my last].”

Guess what. A few days later, KP said he wanted to play for England again, that too in all forms. He said this not in an upfront manner to the English cricket board, but in an interview with his management company on YouTube. But by then, the annoying yet entertaining Mr Pietersen was in a soup over Twitter posts he made that disparaged his own captain, Andrew Strauss. He was dropped from the Test team.

Finally acting his age, KP apologised. Now the England board are in the middle of what they call a ‘process of reintegration’ of KP. So, after all the palaver, you might just see him in India next month.

The other superstar in the news over retirement is Michael Schumacher. Even after a full career in which he won seven Formula One World Championships, he couldn’t resist a comeback. The very word has a whiff of desperation or weak will (or alimony). A man who won 91 races in his prime couldn’t win one in the last three years. Thankfully, he seems to be retiring for good now.

Granted, it is not illegal to change your mind about retirement. And there are stars, like Michael Jordan and Imran Khan, who made purposeful comebacks. But they are exceptions. For most others, it makes sense to retire only when they are sure, and once the decision is made, stick to it.

Suspected Oldest

Antisa Khvichava, a 132-year-old woman, died this week. She had documents that said she was born in 1880 and lived in Georgia. But there have been claims that her papers couldn’t be authenticated because her original birth certificate was lost and these were replacements. The Guiness Book recognises someone else as the oldest woman in the world. But Antisa could have been the few remaining human links to the 1800s.