Taut nerves, attitudes soaring, high-strung family members, phone calls from anxious relatives and friends, milieu of cars outside, in a nutshell, if it sounds like Armageddon — unwind, it is only another grand Indian wedding ceremony happening around the corner.
Ostentatious weddings are commonplace in a developing India, especially since a new wave of affluence has opened the door for celebrations fit for royalty. Many gala affairs involve multi-cuisine buffets, thousands of guests, and sometimes even caparisoned elephants parading in full regalia to help luxuriate the joyous, costly and highly indulgent occasion.
One wonders if the economy of marriage should be introduced as a new academic discipline since the one million ordeals surrounding weddings are utterly incomprehensible to an average person. Headache-inducing details involving bringing flamenco dancers from Spain, flowers from Thailand or getting a celebrity to perform at the function and not to mention the money that cushions these — probably necessitate a degree like an MBA in marriage planning.
The Indian society has made a buffoonery out of the institution of marriage by turning it into a display of wealth. What can be a simple celebration has turned into a food and dance festival for the most distant and obscure relatives. The gift economy seems to be in full swing as each family tries to reciprocate with presents that are at least a notch above than what they have received.
One fails to understand the idea of overpriced wedding gear when the entire accoutrement is supposed to be used only once, and then discarded without remorse.
It’s heart warming to know that the government is clamping such extravaganza. Mulling a proposal to limit the number of guests invited to weddings and the number of dishes served is more than a welcome decision. Studies show that 15 per cent of grains and vegetables produced in India are wasted on weddings every year, which is more than enough to improve the condition of under-nourished children in rural India.
What’s curious to note is that lavish wedding ceremonies are not at all met with scorn. It’s true that celebrations and rituals are binding forces in which family, friends and relatives reunite. However, the limousine parade, the horse guard, the banquet, and the rest of the glittering, chandeliered stuff that goes with a ritual like this goes unquestioned as usual because Indians tend to be decorous even if it hurts them financially.
The youth need to wake up and question this social evil that’s beginning to spread among the burgeoning middle-class like a cancer. They should join hands to opt for simple nuptials and restore the traditional sanctity of the ceremony. Marriages are made in heaven, but it’s definitely paid on Earth. We need to realise the marriage is the coming together of two souls, and not the coming together of designer avarice, overzealous jewellers and natty wedding planners.