Many affluent Malayalees are taking luxury marriages to a whole new level by ditching the Mercedes Benz S Class and Audi Q7 cars in favour of horse-drawn carriages. According to suppliers in Kerala, horse-driven carriages are becoming a fad now.
“Even during festivals, horses have become prominent,” says Ayyaparaj, owner of Chikoo Nandana Travels. “Luxury cars have a class of their own, but they are being overused these days. Among many affluent families, renting a Jaguar or a Merc S-Class is not out of the ordinary anymore. So, in their quest to be different, we get monthly inquiries to supply from one to four horse-drawn carriages,” says Ayyaparaj, who has so far provided horses for 80 marriages across the state.
The daily charges range between Rs 10,000 and Rs 75,000. Most of the upper middle-class families prefer carriages that cost between Rs 20,000 and Rs 40,000. “Middle-class families opt for the smaller version, which costs less than Rs 15,000,” says Sumesh, another horse-cart rental owner. Interestingly, in contrast, a Jaguar can be hired for Rs 25,000, an Audi Q7 for Rs 17,000 and a Mercedes S Class car for Rs 18,000.
Christian families are the top customers, followed by the Hindus. “The brides find it fashionable to step out of carriages in their wedding gowns,” says Sumesh.
In Christian families, the horse carriages are used to transport the newly-married couple from the church to the auditorium, where the reception is held. “The distance varies from 250 metres to 1 km,” says Ayyaparaj.
High-end families hire the best-quality carriages by spending Rs 75,000 per day. “These carriages have a class of their own,” says Faizal, a horse-cart rental owner.
Kochi is home to a large number of people from north India. “Since these families don’t go back to their home towns to conduct their children’s marriages, they want to keep up with their tradition of riding a horse during the marriage procession,” says Faisal, adding that the groom looks majestic, while his mare or stallion dances in tune with the drums.
As for the sourcing of the horse, Ayyapparaj purchases it from north India. “But maintaining them is a costly affair and requires a lot of hard work,” he says. “That is why we have employed people from Tamil Nadu, who have good experience in taking care of horses. A horse has to be bathed every day and needs 400 pounds of feed daily.”
Meanwhile, Vaikom-based Ganesh and Rajeev, of Dheera Horses, have purchased two chariots, a 1913 British model, and another from Kolkata. “The British chariot is white in colour, whereas the Indian model is red,” says Ganesh. “They cost Rs 5 lakh. We have a total of 18 horses, lined up in our stables and we supply them as required.” The duo also supply horses for movies.