April 12, 2018

Of why I am against the Big Fat Indian Wedding

There are two types of people in this world - those who love Indian weddings, and those who do not. I have to proudly say that I belong to the latter category.

Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the celebration of the sanctimonious union of two souls in holy matrimony. However, what I fail to understand is the need for unnecessary extravagance in what ought, in my opinion, ought to be a private and intimate affair.

A friend from Delhi was recently telling me how a typical Punjabi family would be alright with not being to be able to pay off their debts but would never compromise on their children's wedding. I laughed, thinking how all Indians could bond on this one common trait. Be it a North Indian family or a farmer in remote Maharashtra or a typical Mallu household in the South, a quintessential Hindu wedding includes festivities that spread over days on end (Roka, sangeet, mehendi and all sorts of other functions that keep not just the couple but the entire extended family involved and busy), money splurged on catering, flower arrangement, gifts for family...and inadvertently, lots of stress from unpaid loans and untoward expenditure.
Which brings me smoothly to the main point of this post--ending this senseless social practice of ornate and pompous religious customs in weddings.

Personally, when it comes to weddings, I'm more in favour of a simple private affair in the company of family or friends. Better still would be a hassle-free court marriage in testimony of your inner circle.
In fact, I'm quite (un)popular in my circle for skipping weddings and other ornate occasions of irrational behaviour. Many may label me a Scrooge for this.
But I would rather be called a Scrooge than an eejit who despite living in a third world country like ours, wants to partake in a wedding in classic first-world style.
It is at this point that many would jump at me defending the whole SRK logic of 'Hum ek baar jeete hai, ek baar marte hai, shaadi bhi ek baar karte hai...'. But as much as I believe in the whole YOLO philosophy, my ruse with the top-lofty nature of the 'Band-baaja-baraat' is based on a logic much overlooked. Somehow when it comes to wedding festivities, all good sense goes for a toss and people turn into horses with blinkers, walking on the path paved for them by their contemporaries irrespective of individual situations and circumstances (the typical herd mentality).

My point is this. Our country is known for its jarring in-your-face economic discrepancy.

While there are people hungry for a morsel of rice on one hand, the food that gets wasted at a big fat Indian weddings on the other hand could feed a small nation.
But no! What do we care? We will continue to act like retarded chimps, grabbing grains (of raw rice) by the fistful to hurl on the bride and groom and the bevy of relatives crammed up in between.
And don't get me started on the wastage at the wedding banquet. The most irritating kind of people you'd see at a wedding are the ones who will pile up their plate to the hilt, and end up leaving half of it untouched because they suddenly remember they are supposed to be on a diet.
Nearly nine tonnes of food is wasted every year in each wedding hall in the city. This includes spoilage of food due to improper storage, eatables left over in plates etc.

To add to that, you will witness wastage in every form possible.
  • Nobody cares about the electricity consumed during an Indian wedding. Fairy lights to decorate the entire house (because 'shaadi ka ghar' and all that jazz), extra coolers and air conditioners in the wedding hall, if God forbid, it is scheduled during the summer, blaring music with loud speakers plugged in are just some of the ways in which energy expenditure occurs.
  • Of course, one cannot forget the waste of physical energy that is invested in small jobs and errands to magnanimous tasks that need running about all day
  • From the designer diamond jewellery and the wedding trousseau to unbelievably pricey flower arrangement and ice sculptures to destination weddings and inviting superstars to put up a show, the big fat Indian wedding nowadays has been reduced to an ostentatious display of wealth, rather than a reason for happiness.

We keep complaining how India can never be the India of our dreams, how poverty and inequality can never be eradicated. When foreign directors make movies or music albums our country in poor light, we spit fire claiming that they only show the darker, uglier side of our country. But little do we realize that we are the culprits responsible for this darker uglier side to actually exist.
It is only when we, as a society, translate our ideals into action, our thoughts into deeds that we can bring about a change. And for this to happen, we should begin start with ourselves. Every individual ought to make a conscious decision to cut off unnecessary expenditure.
Only then can we eliminate the monster called wastage, and subsequently lessen the social inequality that plagues our country.

I recently read about an initiative in South India where the left over food from wedding halls was packed off and distributed among the poor. Also we have inspiring  initiatives like the Roti bank which works on pretty much the same principle. I think sharing your happiness with those less fortunate is the best way to immortalize the memory of an occasion.
After all, what better way to start a beautiful journey of togetherness than this.

So gleam your conscience instead of your shoes and jewellery. Spread joy among the deserving. It's more likely to get you glowing than the ridiculously expensive bridal facials you have booked for  before your big day. Go for minimalistic decor. Spend that money to decorate someone's life instead. Those starving slum children need that food a lot more than the tantrum-throwing, food-spitting brats at your wedding hall. The homeless will appreciate those gifts and shawls more than the aunties swishing about in designer saris turning their noses at everything because they'd expected better.
Because no matter how perfect you plan your wedding, you are never going to end up pleasing everyone. People will gossip. They will grumble behind your back. Some will complain about the food. Others about the lighting, decor, plates, crowd and everything they set their eyes on.
So I say, if they going to criticize you anyway, you might as well give them a reason to.

Because in the land of the wise and sensible, where less is more, a small thin Indian wedding is the way to go...

So keep it simple. Keep it sweet!

This post is written as a part of Indispire Edition 216, the topic being:
Share a thought about a social practice that is/was followed in your generation but you feel will not hold good for the next/current generation? #Gen2GenChange
I have chosen the highly prevalent and increasingly popular social practice of ornate wedding ceremonies, because frankly, the tradition of senseless extravagance is an unhealthy practice and does not deserve to be passed on. Let the buck stop here...

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