Before jumping onto the main issue, we need to first answer three important and relevant questions.
Celebration before Birth. Have you ever seen a family start celebrating before a baby takes birth or rather, before they know the sex (girl or boy) of the baby? No! Why? Because the extent of celebration always varies and starts only after the SEX of the baby is known.
Actual Question. When we don’t celebrate before the actual result of a major event of our life is out, why do we consider it normal to spend our life’s savings in celebration even before our daughter’s or son’s wedding night?
Calculation by Birth. In India, as soon as a family is blessed with a baby, the imagination of the family members shoots up immediately to reach the new-born baby’s wedding (which will happen after 25+ years!)!
If it’s a Boy. ‘God is great! Now we can just sit and relax. The son will bring home a dowry and the wedding expenditure will be managed by (sucked out of) the girl’s family.’
On the other hand, if it’s a Girl. The family feels as if God has cheated them and they start preparing for the next kid (hoping that it would be a boy so that the wedding expenses and the dowry transactions even out). Some major questions that still hit the family are, ‘What if a dowry is asked for the girl’s wedding, and how much? How would they manage to collect that dowry? How will the wedding expenditures be taken care of?
Tirupati Priest’s Dare-Devil Stunt. An Indian confectioner made sure that his daughter truly was the golden girl on her wedding day by covering her in gold jewelry worth more than Rs 4 crores. The man, who was not named, nevertheless came under fire after it was revealed that he needed a policeman to guard him and his daughter as they arrived at the wedding in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The Great Ambani Saga. According to a report on NewsX, the estimated cost of Ms Isha Ambani and Mr Anand Piramal’s wedding is around Rs 724 crores ($100 million). Interestingly, this equals the wedding cost of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1981, 38 years ago.
If someone has the money to spend, NOBODY SHOULD HAVE ANY PROBLEM WITH IT AT ALL. It’s their money and they have the full right to spend it the way they want. They have toiled hard to accumulate it!
As soon as the girl and the boy say ‘yes’ and decide to go ahead with the proposed marriage (more so in the case of an imposed arranged marriage), the families on both sides immediately swing into action and try to copy the Ambanis.
Money Matters! Now when this match is finalized, the topic of discussion is diverted towards the amount of money that needs to be spent for the engagement and the wedding ceremony (dowry too) and who will pay for what.
A virtual film-set shoots up on the scene. The girl’s father is, by default, made the ‘Producer’ who spends all the money. The boy’s father is the ‘Director’ who pulls most of the strings. The boy’s mother starts preparing herself for the new entry in her life, the daughter-in-law. The girl’s mother just hides behind the scene as a ‘spot-boy’. The major calculations for the preparations start, as mentioned below:
(a) The Celebration of the Engagement. Venue setup, buffet layout, and most importantly, the engagement rings.
(b) Wedding Ceremony. The main wedding ceremony along with other related ceremonies such as mehendi, sangeet, and so on (depending upon the kind of family) are the major sources of emotional and financial stress for the girl’s family. Again there is the venue set up, buffet layout, mandap, a stage with throne-like chairs for the bride and the groom, and so on. Mind you, in some families, the wedding preparations and ceremonies stretch up to almost two months!
The ground reality of the situation is that while performing all these ceremonies, the girl’s family (and to some extent, the boy’s family too) starts letting money flow out like water over all sorts of expenditures. Irrespective of all the meticulous planning a family tries, the expenditure always shoots up beyond what’s in their hand.
India is one of the world’s largest consumers of gold, and Indians spend huge amounts of money to buy gold jewelry for weddings. More recently, several wealthy Indians have been seen sporting clothes made out of gold thread.
(c) Guests too! The culture of spending has roots that go deeper than this, for even the guests who’re merely there to attend these ceremonies start wondering months in advance about what they would require for the big day. Depending on whether it would be the summer or winter season, they would buy new clothes for the whole family. Rapidly growing kids who have outgrown their last-purchased fancy clothes will demand for new ones.
‘The gift’ is the next tricky boomerang. In case the family decides to give money or ‘shagun’ in a fancy envelope, another million questions crop up about how much would be an appropriate amount? Some people even maintain a register where they record the details of the gifts or money given by families when they attended a wedding on this side. So, when one of these guest families becomes the host, the records are consulted and it becomes a straightforward game of tit-for-tat!
(d) Total Expenditure. A crazy amount of money gets spent by the girl’s family, the boy’s family, and the guests attending the wedding ceremonies, and all this currency gets busted even before the commencement of the couple’s wedding night.
Mind you, the wedding night, the basic litmus test for the newlywed couple to figure out their compatibility for the rest of their lives, is yet to happen! But all their family’s savings are gone, spent away for a brief period of merry-making. Not a single rupee is left for the bride and the groom!
(e) Bollywood Influence. Blockbuster Bollywood movies, such as Hum Aapke Hain Kaun by the renowned film director Sooraj Bharjatya, influence Indian families to emulate the setup, the clothes, the jewelry, and what not in the best possible way. However, the film had actually earned crores by spending money on that wedding ceremony for the silver screen, but the stupid families, by copying the wedding theme as shown in the movie, took on terrible debts.
(f) Destination Wedding. A destination wedding is an opportunity for the couple to celebrate their wedding at a gorgeous destination of their choosing, away from home. Couples get married in stunning locations all over the world, such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, and Europe. If someone has the money, like Bollywood celebrities, a destination wedding is almost a blind option. The industry of ‘Destination Weddings’ is a different game altogether and it costs a bomb!
The Confused Bride!
Double Standards. Throughout a girl’s life in India, she is brought up with lots of restrictions, with respect to her freedom of social movement, the money in her hand, her choice of education, her willingness to do certain jobs, have friends, etc.
Instead of spending on the girl’s education and other life-improving activities, a girl’s parents prefer to save money to put up a grand show for her wedding celebration. Most times then, a girl finds herself confused at the sudden change of her parents’ stand from being miserly to extravagant spenders! The same father who used to ask her hundreds of questions before handing over any money to her for her requirements, suddenly starts spending his life’s savings to the tune of millions for her wedding?
Is this ‘fatherly love’ justified? No! It’s cowardice on the father’s part who is more bothered about his fake social image than what is good for his daughter! We are sorry to use terms like ‘an ass’ for a girl’s father, but this is the truth.
After he has successfully made an expensive show of the forced arranged marriage, the bride’s father may as well tell his daughter this right before the wedding night:
My dear daughter, although I always counted money before giving it to you for your basic expenses, I didn’t count any money today while spending for your wedding ceremony with an arranged husband that you will sleep with now.
Whenever you asked me for money, I always counter questioned you to be sure that you would not be wasting it, but I never asked any such questions from your arranged husband’s family while spending on expensive gifts (under the table dowry) for them!
Although I didn’t spend enough on your education, just now I have busted millions of rupees to celebrate your wedding!
My dear daughter, today I am asking you to stop worrying about any future requirements that you might have because I have already spent millions on your wedding and the dowry/gifts for your arranged ’in-laws’! I can assure you that you will not have to worry about anything from this moment on. In case you need anything, please request your ’in-laws’. Relax now and prepare for the next big game with your arranged husband, who is eagerly waiting for you with his pants down! BEST OF LUCK, MY DAUGHTER! BEST OF LUCK!
Most Indian families (especially those of girls) end up taking on the burden of loans while preparing for and executing the lavish wedding ceremonies. Families seeking loans for weddings is widely accepted in India and even the banks clear such loans comfortably.
Many a time, the real hardship and financial burden is realized after the wedding ceremony gets over. In case the family has more than one daughter, then even God gets stressed over the great post-wedding issues. But the main question remains unanswered. Are such wedding loans worth it?
Girl’s Family’s Blues
As soon as the wedding gets over, the actual problems start the very next moment. All the expenditures are calculated, as the existing wedding loans from banks and other relatives are waiting to be repaid. Now, what to do?
Parents are often at the last leg of their career or are already retired at this point. The pension, if there is one at all, is only 50% of the total salary the family has earned till date. They have a good part of their life already ahead of them, in addition to various lifestyle ailments such as diabetes, depression, cancer, etc., which also require a good amount of money for treatment.
Nude Show! Once the wedding ceremony is over, millions of rupees have been busted over wedding preparations, money that her parents saved up by living a life of constrains, her soul starts crying in pain. She also knows that whatever her father is doing or has done is under the influence of social pressure that he could not withstand.
Nuclear Way. With families slowly shifting to a nuclear set-up, the son or daughter will soon shift out after the wedding to start their own nuclear family. With all their savings already busted over the wedding celebrations, the fun now starts!
Real Life Incident. In a shocking and first such incident, a head priest of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) confessed to stealing ornaments from the temple to get his daughters married. The accused, identified as Kattu Venkata Ramana Dikshitulu, was the head priest of Lord Sri Kodanda Ramaswamy temple in Tirupati. The incident came to light after the priest was questioned by TTD officials when they found ornaments worth nearly Rs 10 lakh missing during the stock-taking of the temple jewelery. ‘I know, I have committed a crime. I have three daughters and poverty forced me to do this,’ the priest said.
Even the agents of Gods are not spared from this form of stupidity and the harsh reality of the double standards of the society!
Bride’s Still Stressed?
Natural Gift. Girls are supposed to be very emotional about their parents (especially fathers) and are blessed with a mental antenna that can sense even those signals which appear to be irrelevant for boys.
After the wedding gets over, she moves with her husband, but still keeps getting worried about the well-being of her parents. She is very aware that her parents have spent all their life savings over her wedding ceremonies and now, with the ever-increasing cost of living and the existing medical ailments, their life will be tougher.
Forced Expenditure. In case the boy’s family forces the girl’s family to make extravagant spendings over the wedding celebration, the problem escalates further. A girl is forced to remain quiet despite the issues surrounding her, but at the bottom of her heart, she knows quite clearly who is responsible for forcing her parents to spill out their pockets far over their means or capabilities. Although the sheep remains silent all through the wedding celebration, she remembers it for a long time after, when all the people responsible for her pain are held accountable and are punished. Husbands are generally spared. But life starts taking the toll on the boy’s parents. After 5 to 10 years of marriage, the result starts becoming visible, with the splitting of the son from his parents.
Bride’s Withdrawal. Instead of enjoying their new life, especially the girls who shift abroad after getting married, their mind space is filled up with concern for their parents and their financial hardship. Since her husband and his family have their own lives to struggle through, they never try to get back to the girl’s parents to find out if they are okay. It is mostly assumed that they are fine and will manage. She has no one at her new home to share her emotional blues with, thus suffering in isolation without any clarity about the financial status of her parents.
More Girls? In case the bride has a younger sister or sisters, the cruel dance starts all over again. She has seen the dance at her own wedding and can very well imagine what will be happening next.
Problem Escalates. Slowly, the bride starts withdrawing herself from active married life, giving the husband all the reasons to be confused. Sometimes, the husband starts feeling that his arranged wife is an idiot who has got some psychological problems (resulting in physical problems too) and starts feeling the unseen pain in his own life. This situation is very confusing for both of them. In fact, for everyone.
Few More Questions
1. Which religious book or constitution dictates the requirement of parents to spend millions over wedding celebrations? No idea!
2. What exactly have or will your parents gain by spending millions on your wedding? No clue!
3. Will such weddings guarantee a better-married life or sexual pleasures for the couple? No clue!
4. Will such an extravaganza help the couple in maintaining a luxurious life? Definitely not!
5. How will the attendance of more than 300 guests, devouring food at a rate of Rs 400 per plate, help the newlywed couple in having a good future? Many people will say that for a happy marriage, the blessings of all the loved ones are required. Very true! But will such sacred blessings be showered on the new couple only in exchange of millions being spent at the wedding with a plate of food valuing more than Rs 400 (going up to Rs 5000 in some cases)? All food consumed during the wedding has to go down the shitpot eventually! No one can carry that expensive food in their stomach for more than one night!
6. Of all the guests who attend your wedding ceremony, how many are actually known to you? Do you even remember all of their names while seeking their blessings at the stage?
7. Does anyone on either side of the families ever consider the money that the newlywed couple will require to run their wedded life?
8. Is it not a good idea then to gift the newly-wed couple with money so that they don’t have to worry about it for a while to come? They can spend that money on their honeymoon or their future life together without worries. Maybe they wish to have a luxury car or an exotic extended honeymoon!
9. Do the existing wedding malpractices show the social immaturity of one of the oldest civilizations of the world?
A Positive Example
In the days of ostentatious weddings, with even middle-class families spending lakhs of rupees on them, an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer from Andhra is setting a great example for others to follow. Patnala Basanth Kumar, Commissioner at the Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Development Authority (VMRDA), spent only Rs 36,000 for the wedding of his son. The families of the bridegroom and the bride made a total expenditure of only Rs 18,000 each on the ceremony, including the lunch for the guests. In 2017, Basanth Kumar had also hosted his daughter’s wedding with equal simplicity, spending only Rs 16,100 on it. People say that he is setting a good example at a time when many families are wasting huge amounts of money on weddings, making them the occasion for a vulgar display of wealth.
Why can’t we do this too? Again, the million-dollar-question arises.
1. If this IAS officer can be mature enough to spend only Rs 36,000 and Rs 18,000 on his son’s and daughter’s weddings respectively, what stops us from following in his footsteps?
2. Are we too stupid to understand the basic mathematics and requirements of the newly wedded couple?
3. Do we require to crack the Indian Administrative Services Examination first to understand this basic equation of life?
Parents, Please Stop!
After getting married and being blessed with kids, life throws new problems at the couple, such as buying a new house (requiring home loans), a bigger vehicle for all to move together (requiring a vehicle loan), good education for the kids (bringing on an education loan), etc. Life becomes tough.
The parents need to think many times before buying a bungalow, a luxury car, or sending the kids to premium schools, but suddenly, when the kids reach a marriageable age, the whole thought process changes. Suddenly, both the parents become too extravagant and spend money as if there is no limit.
Once the kids are educated, start earning well at their jobs, have their own social circle, why does this requirement of busting up all your life’s savings over their weddings even exist? They are grown-ups and have their own dreams and ideas about enjoying their marriage and life generally. Why can’t we leave the couple alone then? Let them decide the details of this once-in-a-lifetime event and resolve issues such as:
Whom to marry?
When to marry?
How to marry?
Where to marry?
Where to have the honeymoon?
How much to spend on the wedding?
Old Mistakes. During the old times when our parents got married, nothing was asked from them, their opinion didn’t matter. But that doesn’t mean that present-day parents should also force their kids to be the same.
Trust your girl or boy. Today, most girls and boys are well educated. With the internet being used in its best form today, they are well-informed. With a graduation degree and a job in hand, they know how to deal with life and the people around them. Let them differentiate right from wrong using their own wits.
Explicit Truth. If you believe that a couple needs to manage their married life on their own, why not let them decide what kind of wedding celebration they want too. You have already lived through the best years of your life, but they have theirs still ahead of them. Save your hard-earned money for your and your spouse’s retirement instead of wasting it over unwanted wedding celebrations.
Weddings should be simpler and more about the union of two souls instead of a fake social dance!
A girl will have a more relaxed married life with less guilt over having busted her parents’ life-savings for her wedding celebration, further reducing the chance of marital disharmony in the future!
Life, by itself, is too complicated and full of surprises. Let’s not complicate it further with our own stupidity!
Also, a marriage has more relevance in terms of a great sex and soul-to-soul compatibility than an unwarranted social show in the form of extravagant wedding ceremonies!
We hope that a day will come when all these unwarranted wedding-related expenses will be shunned by one and all, and an Income Tax raid will be an automatic outcome for those making unrealistic wedding expenditures. Over-expenditure for weddings will be looked down upon.
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