Speed dating is always a bit awkward. Take away the alcohol, invite parents to watch from the sidelines, and the ritual takes on the excruciating air of a middle-school dance. Now raise the stakes: Mr. Baig was one of many at the Bayside event who said that if a match was made, marriage could follow within a month.
That’s Millanus, the ultimate oxymoron: Islamic matrimony speed dating. It is a twice-yearly conclave started in 2007 by a Pakistani-American financial adviser from Long Island who was tired of being asked by Muslim clients if he knew anyone suitable for their children. Some 75 participants, including people from as far away as Seattle, Ottawa and Texas, paid $120 in advance—$150 at the door—for the most recent event, which included a few dozen five-minute “dates”; a buffet of chicken curry and biryani rice coated in saffron; and a break for Adhan, a call to prayer. Family members like Mr. Baig were encouraged to observe the encounters. To drink: hot tea or Kool-Aid.
“It’s a combination of East and West,” said the organizer, Jamal Mohsin. “Back in Pakistan, everything is arranged. Here, on the other extreme, individuals pick everything and parents, who raised you, aren’t involved. So I’ve created an event with both of these extremes. I’ve kept parents in the loop so they feel involved. At the same time, it’s speed dating. We’re being American.”