KOCHI: Imagine a wedding where the groom is carried to the ‘mandapam’ on top of an elephant parked outside his five-star hotel amid the Limousine or Rolls Royce cars.
Leading the elephant from the front would be a band of local artists performing ‘Pancharimelam’. Following the wedding would be performance of cultural art forms like kathakali. The newlyweds could take a chair on the beach and watch the nuances of martial arts such as ‘Kalari payattu’ in the evening. And before the day ends, there would be colourful fireworks with ‘amit’ and ‘kombala’ to get the feel of a ‘mini pooram’, as one would like to call it.
However crazy it may sound, these are part and parcel of the packages being made for foreigners looking at Kerala as a wedding destination. The idea of ‘theme-based weddings’ has received a shot in the arm as the ongoing Kerala Travel Mart has projected it as a main highlight of future Kerala Tourism.
Tour operators have already signed up both private hotel groups such as Taj and government-run KTDC chains for ‘theme weddings’. Sources with Taj, which comes with the experience of well known Jaipur weddings, calls it ‘nothing new for them.’ On the other hand, KTDC has stepped up finishing construction of its convention centres to accommodate the inflow of wedding proposals from domestic and international tour operators. “The USP for Kerala to host such weddings will be the greenery here. We can offer a total Kerala package along with such weddings,” said Jose Sebastian, general manager, Lulu Mall, another would-be front-runner organiser in ‘theme weddings’.
“It’s an extravagant event and we are targeting high income groups. If proper facilities are given, foreigners would love to make Kerala their wedding destination,” he said.
However, players in the domestic hospitality sector are worried about the crude shortage of proper infrastructure facilities in the state. Other demerits such as connectivity issues would also turn out to be a roadblock to organise such mega weddings.
And the biggest negative, admit the industry players almost unanimously, would be the prohibition announced by the state government. No matter what package we make, a foreigner will not be interested to take it up if he is not allowed to take a glass of vodka on his wedding day, said a tour operator.