Banihal: A Matrimonial Venture With An Innovative Approach

Are marriages made in heaven? Neuroscience-based matchmaking company Banihal would argue that no divine assistance is necessary. Banihal, founded in 2014 by Ishdeep Sawhney, an ex-Apple employee uses the power of artificial intelligence algorithms to match users with their perfect match. Intrigued? We were, and so we chatted with Sawhney about what makes Banihal a game-changer in India:

Ishdeep Sawhney (Image credits: Banihal)

Idea behind Banihal

What made you come up with the idea of Banihal?

When I was looking for a match in my early 20s, I met a girl whom I liked but was not completely compatible with. This pushed me to think more deeply about how to objectively say “this is the right match for me in the long term.”

Pursuing this line of thought, I developed a questionnaire, which I used to find my perfect match and married her. Several of my friends asked me if they could use the same approach to find partners too. I realized that almost everyone in their twenties wants to get married but were not meeting that one person to whom they could say “Yes” confidently. So, I decided to quit my job at Apple and pursue building Banihal as a company.

Banihal as a game changer for Indian matrimony

Arranged marriages have been part of India’s culture since the 4th century. How will Banihal be a game-changer in this scenario?

In Eastern cultures like India, family is an important and significant part of our lives. Arranged marriages were easier when family contacts were extensive and there was little mobility with respect to location, social and economic life.

Over the past 20 years in India, there has been an economic boom and created far more opportunities for women in the top 20% of the society. Individuals are now looking for a match themselves and do care about the impact of their decision on their family and friends. Most parents today are using technology and tools to find a match rather than the traditional arranged marriage of family connections and feel this is something their children are far more capable of doing themselves.

This has created a void where our society is ready to accept an alternative solution for the first introduction in this search process. Banihal is the most advanced technology solution to find a match where both individuals can confidently say “Yes” when they meet in real life and we are mindful of each individuals cultural preferences and they are unique.

Significance of the software and company name

Why is the software called ‘Rae’? And the company ‘Banihal’?


Image credits: Banihal

Banihal is actually the name of the longest tunnel in India. It’s on one side of Jammu which is hot and barren. After you cross this tunnel, you reach to the beautiful Kashmir valley which has a serene weather. When you travel from Delhi to Kashmir, Banihal tunnel forms the connectivity. Just like that, the company transforms your life to the eventful day when you get married.

We developed an artificial intelligence based system at Banihal that takes all the profile information completed by each member and then recommends matches completely automatically without any human intervention. We call it “Rae” because it is similar to the ray of light from a lighthouse that would navigate a ship to safety in the sea away from dangerous rocks. Rae is navigating our members to meet the best matches so that they meet the right person when they are actively looking to settle down.

Procedure for determining the marriage compatibility

How is compatibility between two people determined?

Image credits: Banihal

There are many parameters that are used to determine a match like age, psychological profile, family, income and personal preferences. The key driving principle is to make introductions where two people when they meet in real life are able to complete each other’s sentences.

We all have our own lens to look at the world and as a couple we make hundreds of decisions together everyday. We match individuals so they are intuitively aligned and see the world the same way. This is made possible by the psychology tests that an individual completes when signing up on Banihal and their feedback while using Banihal.

Reason to trust Banihal

Why should people trust this matrimonial service, after years of more traditional avenues?

During your pursuit of finding the right match, if you feel that the first phone call or meeting should have been about compatibility, then Banihal is the right place for you.

90% of matches on Banihal that have the highest compatibility connect with each other to pursue beyond the first interaction.

Success stories of Banihal

Are there any success stories you’d like to share with us? Has anyone gotten a 100% match?

We have built Banihal to be like Google. If you search for “Kulfi in Delhi” on Google, it might say 5 million results but you never have to go beyond the first 5 search results. Even though there are thousands of matches with your profile, we show you only the most compatible matches where the likelihood of getting married is very high.

We haven’t seen a 100% match and it is unlikely since every individual is unique on all the parameters we match on. More compatibility makes the bond stronger to understand each other and reduces the impact of differences. 

This different approach by Banihal in finding your perfect matrimonial match is definitely interesting and worth exploring. After all, why pass up a chance to find your perfect match? Learn more about them via their website and Facebook page.

Featured image credit: Banihal

Written by: Disha Mukherjee


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