You May Now Kiss the Computer Screen

Internet Marriages on Rise in Some Immigrant Communities

With a red embroidered veil draped over her dark hair, Punam Chowdhury held her breath last month as her fiancé said the words that would make them husband and wife. After she echoed them, they were married. Guests erupted in applause; the bride and groom traded bashful smiles.

 

Normally one of the most intimate moments two people can share, the marriage had taken place from opposite ends of the globe over the video chat program Skype, with Ms. Chowdhury, an American citizen, in a mosque in Jackson Heights, Queens, and her new husband, Tanvir Ahmmed, in his living room with a Shariah judge in his native Bangladesh.

Their courtship, like so many others, had taken place almost entirely over the Internet — they had met in person only once, years earlier, in passing. But in a twist that underscores technology’s ability to upend traditional notions about romance, people are not just finding their match online, but also saying “I do” there.

The practice of proxy marriage is particularly widespread in Islamic countries where the Koran has long been interpreted to explicitly endorse it.

“After all these advancements in technology and all kinds of telecommunication tools, scholars came to the conclusion that it is acceptable,” said the imam Shamsi Ali, of the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens.

“Skype is making it easier,” he added. “These days you have Google Hangout, too.”