This is a sassy opinionated piece garnished with some statistical evidence to inspire intellects and perhaps even ignite some much-needed change.
As per 2011 census, 30% of the total population in India (37 crores roughly) lived in urban areas. Furthermore, out of these urban people, 28% (10 crores approximately) was within the marriageable age-group of 20 to 35 years.
Given that there were only 926 females for every 1000 males as per the 2011 census, the number of women and girls eligible for marriage would be around 9 crores. Accordingly, the number of nuptials taking place would roughly be 4.5 crores. Hence, the number of weddings each year (assuming each person within the age-group gets married once) would be roughly around 30,00,000.
Indian weddings weren’t always as big and as fat as they are these days. If you don’t believe me, go ask your grandparents (unless they are royalty, of course)! Back then, weddings were done and dusted within a maximum of one-and-a-half days. Only the closest members of family and friends were invited – and there was not much pomp involved, either.
Then, how did this idea of larger-than-life festivity(ies) just to celebrate the love of a couple – or in most Indian cases, their families – even come to be?
If you revisit your memory down Bollywood’s lane, you may remember some iconic ‘family-drama’ movies like Hum Apke Hain Kaun. Such blockbusters may have acted as catalysts in popularising the flamboyance which somehow was not just limited to those who had cash to spare. It also became a norm for those who had to pinch pennies to make sure that the grandeur was maintained. So, are we then calling Sooraj Barjatya the father of these circuses? Well, maybe.
From then on, we have come a far way ahead into the age of the bespoke ‘wedding hashtags’ and customized Snapchat geo-filters. Social media, as we know, has caused a massive spike in our materialistic inclinations. In an age when privacy is a luxury (thanks, Facebook), not only your assets and liabilities but also you love life is a slave to virtual reality.
So then, is it safe to say the Mr Barjatya may have planted the sperm of the matrimonial fiasco? But it’s actually social media that has managed to blossom this premature baby into an ugly infant.
Now, without getting lost in a passionate dissection of the past and present, let’s run over some hard-hitting facts.
Now, in most cases, an Indian wedding can cost anywhere from ₹20 lakh to ₹5 crores (it’s even gone up to ₹550 crores, by the way) – and we are only talking about the middle class (upper and lower included). Reliance Money, which offers personal loans, states the following in one of its blogs: “An Indian wedding is generally a three-day affair with different ceremonies and rituals lined up. Each ceremony requires its own set of apparel, set-up, and materials. The average cost of a single ceremony may range between 6 to 10 lakhs.”
From these figures, if we pick up a humble ₹8 lakh as an average for one day, and then consider the three days of festivities, then an average middle-class wedding would cost ₹24 lakh (₹24,00,000).
Now, simply multiply that with the number of people getting married – and it adds up to ₹7,20,000 crores. It’s a figure so high that it can cover the following expenses from the Annual Budget (2018-19):
1. Education (₹85,000 crores)
2. Agriculture and rural economy (₹1,87,223 crores)
3. Health (₹55,000 crores)
And it will still leave some money for purchasing weapons and poverty-alleviation!
Keep in mind that we have tried to keep the numbers as modest as possible. We all know (or can guess) what the elite society spends on their weddings. That number will probably add up to create a mini-India, while sparing enough to raise an independent budget for itself.
We didn’t do the number-crunching and the research (tedious AF, by the way) just to throw this capitalistic inclination of the nation in your face (although we wouldn’t mind doing it if required). Our aim here is to raise awareness.
Sure, there may be some of you who have always dreamt of having the most magnificent wedding possible, but if a psychologist was to analyse it, darling, it would probably come down to your need to be the center of attention while flaunting off your daddy’s dough in the form of your custom Sabyasachi (and an entire floral arrangement and gold’s worth to go with it).
If you are willing to acknowledge the numbers, and are still ready to splurge the moolah on your ‘special day’ – well then, go forth in your bespoke Jimmy Choo and enjoy the limelight! However, if you are open to the idea of a rational revolution, then do take these numbers into consideration and probably, you’ll be able to pave the way for a more balanced tomorrow?
Ultimately, the choice is yours. We cannot convince you to change your mind but can only attempt to make you think.
Oh, and be assured that you will certainly never change our minds!
The author can be found here.
The numbers in the post are mostly estimates derived from various sources.