Free matrimonial apps
You can register for free on most platforms. The free version allows you to express/ accept interest from prospects. In some cases, you can even chat for free depending on what package your match has. If your matches have premium packages that allow their matches to respond to their chats, then you can respond for free. If you are unable to do that, you can allow your matches to contact you by making sure your contact information is unhidden for potential matches.
I know a lot of people who have interacted with matches without getting a paid account, but at some point you may hit a dead end and you might have to pay for the membership in order to get access to contact information of your matches. Remember that “might” is the keyword.
I honestly do believe a paid membership on at least one of these websites is worth your money since it is the most efficient way to interact with as many relevant prospective partners as possible before you make a final decision. The amount you pay for a basic membership can vary from Rs. 1000–6000 (after discounts) across the big platforms. I understand that this may not be affordable for everyone, but I do believe given how much is spent on weddings in India in general, this is not even 1% of the overall wedding spend for at least the lower middle class and above.
To put this cost in perspective, this is the cost of one (or 3) good formal shirts or one (or 2) good silk sarees that you will wear at your wedding depending on your lifestyle. You could think of this as an investment to find yourself a life partner who you hope to spend the rest of your life with.