Big Fat Indian Weddings: Do Young People Want Them?
We Indians are well-known for our gigantic weddings and they are excessively fun. Food and jabber fill the air with exceptional energy noticeable all around, feasts are set with hundred distinct treats to glut on, and family members are seen going around celebrating.
Chachis and mamis are caught tattling like there’s no tomorrow. The grand Indian wedding resembles Diwali and Christmas together-the wedding week is a thrill ride in every Indian bride and groom’s life. However, underneath all the sparkle and happiness are a couple of fathers, mothers, siblings, relatives as well as planners running on the alarm and in panic mode. From bartering with the tentwalas to finishing picking out the menu and making courses of action for the set of affairs, they drain everyone involve and hence reduce the ‘fun’ element, considerably.
The relatives experience a proper grilling and have to jump through a lot of hoops when there’s a wedding in the house, all the more so when they are from the bride’s side. Blessings, money and jewellery are traded according to old religious beliefs and traditions.
On top of that, endless hours are spent roaming around in markets in hot Indian afternoons to purchase a million things including clothes for both sides as well as gifts. However, the same has always been seen as a mandatory rite of passage that all the families love to participate and contribute towards. An average middle-class Indian wedding easily costs many lakhs today and the higher-class weddings can easily cross into crores which is why these are known as ‘The Big Fat Indian Weddings’.
Alas. the times are changing and the question that arises in the light of the same is- does the youth of the country still want one? TheVibe decided to speak to the wedding industry and a few couples to try to find out an answer to the same!
°What does the Indian wedding industry have to say about this?
The wedding industry in India is the most active industry of the country and grows about 20% every year. Whether it is the dark circumstances caused by COVID-19 or the stains of recession, people get married. They tie the knot and promise to stay by each other in sickness and in health, for the rest of their lives.
Mr Akash Gandhi from ‘Unplugged Affairs’ believes that there are multiple factors in play when it comes to weddings in India. The income of people in India has increased considerably in the past 10 years which has, in turn, caused an increase in their disposable income which is one of the reasons why the wedding industry is booming. People have been increasing the budget for their weddings. He believes that weddings are still a status symbol and hence, they are all about showing off which is why people go all out.
Another factor that must be weighed in, is that in India, it depends on the families of the bride and groom and not just them. The conservative families still want a grand wedding wherein, the bride and groom sprinkle their sparkle with a modern touch. Nowadays, people want their weddings to be unique- brides enter on horses while grooms choose Harley Davidsons or helicopters. The only change that has occurred is that now, the clients are choosing to still go all out but the number of guests is limited.
Mr Arvind Walia from ‘Landmark Weddings’ believes that the levels of pomp and show in our country have only increased with time. In fact, people are hiring the best of everything- it is common to bring in special kulfiwale from Muzaffarnagar etc. Furthermore, people have been going all out like spending lakhs on Firecrackers, exquisite flower arrangements, hiring the big shots and getting multiple photo booths.
Another amazing fact is that youngsters are now earning for themselves hence the bride and the groom, together are paying their wedding bills and working on creating their unique, exuberant dreams. Sometimes ceremonies even occur in one place for both the parties and go on for 2-3 days, thanks to Bollywood! Weddings are now a gala for everyone. Guests have fun, they dress up and go to photo booths, checking in at places and flooding social media.
°What does the youth have to say on this matter?
The youth of India has always been really active on all matters and issues, whether social, political or economic- we have always had an opinion and have never been afraid to voice it. So, when it comes to their personal issues- why would they hold back?
Anirvan and Reba had been dating each other for a long time, they lived as neighbours for a bit and, have been through the long-distance thing for a couple of years, and have since become the best of friends. They are very different as people and yet they have some really similar ideologies that they feel strongly about – Family is first for them, being simple, practical and having fun follows!
They have attended far too many Indian weddings. Looking back, they can honestly say that it was the worst day of the couple’s lives because of all the drama, the gossip, the functions and tempers. They have heard them complain about it for years, later and hence, always knew that they did not want that.
Having a small intimate wedding with just their families and few close friends had always been the plan, luckily for the both of them. Being from different religious backgrounds, they also knew that they would just have a simple court marriage and a small reception later and they planned to use all that saved money and headspace to feed their costly hobbies and have fun. Due to the pandemic, their small wedding got even smaller.
It wasn’t worth the risk to fly their parents into the city with the rising cases, her sister lives abroad so she wasn’t able to make it. So, they took these changes in stride and decided to have the court registration with their families (across time-zones) cheering them in spirit over zoom.
It turned out to be quite fun, they had a few close friends who doubled up as both their witnesses, dressed up and had a blast as nobody had to do anything other than enjoy themselves in an Indian government office, they were all just winging it.
They recommend that “couples should instead buy the house that they both want to start their lives in, buy that motorbike that they both have been eyeing, go on a honeymoon to some remote place with a private pool away from people (and the virus).” They believe that “couples should use the money wisely. Celebrate one of the most important days of your lives with the people who matter the most and make the event intimate which will make it far more special and memorable.”
Vasudha and Vinesh are both working in the field of politics, with the bride having completed her Masters in Politics from JNU and the groom being an erstwhile Supreme Court Lawyer, their ideas of marriage are as woke as it can get, yet they were unable to convince their parents to give into their choice- court marriage.
The various arguments about what will society think and how can marriage happen without all relatives were all presented to them as is usually explained to all couples who try to break away from the norm. Families and relatives have a role to play in the wedding with designated duties of Chachas, Mamas and Buas – they want to contribute their bit in the couple’s lives and in a big happy family and understandably so!
Young couples want to break away from the traditions due to the archaic and problematic aspects of rituals. Since this couple could not convince their families for a court marriage they decided to fix to the root of the problem ‘the Pandit and what he has to say’.
They arranged many sessions between the pandits and parents to make sure everyone understood the idea of the partnership that the couple prescribed to. Promptly the pandit understood the equality of the relationship and discussed that sindoor, ‘mangalsutra’ and ‘kanyadaan’ were not a pre-requisite for a marriage ritual, rather a choice.
Together, they decided to do away with the idea of ‘daan’ of the wards to each other’s families. Instead, both sides gave their blessings and the hands of the couple to each other. The role that the pandit played was essential as he was the harbinger of tradition into their lives. He dismissed patriarchal traditions, explained the logic behind every ‘aahuti’ and respected the wishes of the couple.
For both of them, the most important moment was to swear their marriage upon was the constitution of India which they had placed next to the havan fire and on which they ultimately swore their vows. “It is the most important book for both of us”.
Couples who are able to tear away from the traditions in India are the outliers and while their efforts are laudable, it is difficult for most couples in India to go against family and societal requests. In the moment of pressure, it is essential to find the true meaning of actions that one undertakes in a marriage ritual. A simple temple wedding allowed them to find a middle way and reach a befitting and happy compromise.
“We understand our marriage, we understand our vows and who else can say this?” was one of the strongest statements made by the couple.
They recommend that “instead of the big preparations and losing oneself in the paraphernalia of the wedding industry, focus on your vows and what the ritual of marriage is about. Is the ‘havan-kund agni’ enough for you, does your relation demand a different aspect? Don’t break away from tradition, evolve it and weave it into your partnership.”
They added further, “Change always does not necessarily occur in a single-moment of revolution. More often than not it takes place in the compromises, the grey areas of life where reality and utopia intersect. Try to find that!”
We need to understand that weddings are first the unions of two souls and then, their families. All perspectives matter. But the couple should have the freedom to voice out their opinions.
While various youngsters believe that excessive expenditure for just one day isn’t necessary and it’s better to call the people who actually care- while saving for your future or big honeymoon is the way to go, some people still believe in the sparkle of a big fat Indian wedding!
The tradition of a big wedding is absolutely amazing and the people who choose to stick by it ought to do what fills with joy, after all, it’s their big day.
It is also essential to remember that, at the end of the day, the size of your wedding has nothing to do with your union and this blessed day should bring happiness to the couple, more than anything.