Marriages are the divine union of two souls. Mostly, it is considered a religious bond and said to be an important social institution. It is not reckoned as an event as it teaches you so many lessons — you learn how to be caring and affectionate, you learn to adjust in a family, broaden your relations and hold responsibilities, you learn to compromise and adjust for the sake of you and your family. You learn to find good things and accept the flaws, you learn how to play different roles of a motivator, lover, parent, partner etc.
The sacrament of marriage is a lasting commitment between two individuals for a lifelong partnership. It is an establishment for the good of each other and for procreation. But marriages, which once upon a time were considered simple, private and sacred affair, do not remain simple anymore. An enormous amount of money is spent to make the wedding more flamboyant, grand and lavish. This actually ruins the institution of marriage and limits it to a stage hypocrisy to display one’s money and status with an huge group of orchestra on stage, a very big marriage hall, decoration, DJ, food stalls etc.
This huge affair of marriage has made the lives of middle-class people very tough and victimised them. They have to spend their hard-earned money on such affordable weddings to satisfy the rigid social norms, without caring about the consequences of its financial burden on their own family. We end up saving money with the sole purpose of our kids’ weddings. In the hope that our daughters or sisters will be safe and well-treated, we get a loan to buy the groom gifts. Actually, it is an assumption that a good number of people must throng to your wedding to see that you are doing the best for your kids. People stay miffed for years if you don’t invite them or forget to invite them to the wedding.
Those days have past when only women used to glamorise themselves, lose weight and take beauty packages for their wedding day. Now, men can also be seen standing in queues to get a beauty treatment and look their best. It feels like an exam, where you compete to deliver your best. It looks more like a show where hundreds of people gather not to celebrate the sacred event, but to compete with their dress, jewellery and booked venues.
No doubt, our weddings are enjoyed by our close relatives, chacha-chachis and bua-fufas gossiping and smiling from a distance. But the background of all this glitz tells a different story, in which our father, mother and siblings run pillar to post to make all the marriage arrangements, ensuring that a gala time is had by all, hot food is served to guests, and staying staying arrangements are made with the tentwala after a good bargain.
The DJ waale babus and family members also have to go through a grilling ordeal. All such fiddle and uphill task is done in the hope that society will like and respect them. Why do we make marriages a crazy, nerve-wracking event where everybody is on panic mode? It’s a universal fact that brides and grooms never get to enjoy their own wedding. The pressure of looking good is immense. It is mandatory for the bride and groom to smile non-stop, otherwise, their wedding would not get registered. Like a dreaded test exam, it only gets more and more lengthy and tough.
The preparation for the couple has nothing to do with their marriage and companionship, but with looking their best, as if clear skin and a huge trousseau will come to rescue the couple when they have an argument. It is estimated that the size of the Indian wedding industry is around $50 billion.The total cost of organising an Indian wedding can range from Rs 5 lakhs-5 crores. It came to the fore that an average Indian is likely to spend 1/5th of their lifetime’s wealth on their wedding. However, there are different viewpoints over the celebration of marriages.
Some like to keep it simple and private, while others likes to be grand, assuming that a lifetime event of this scale happens only once. Contrary to this, some youths, renowned sportsmen, businessmen and bureaucrats set an example by keeping their weddings simple and oppose extravagant expenditure over wedding celebrations.
The last three decades witnessed introduction of 10 different private member bills in the Parliament that sought prohibition on extravagant, wasteful expenditure on marriages and enforcement of simpler solemnisation. These bills either lapsed, were unsuccessful or are pending.
Bills on the prohibition of this wasteful expenditure including the Curtailment of Expenditure on Marriage Bill, 1988, Expenditure on Marriage and Birthday celebration, 1996, the Marriage Restriction on Expenditure bill, 2000, Prohibition of extravagant expenditure on marriages bill, 2005, the prohibition of extravagant and wasteful expenditure on marriage bill, 2005, the Prevention of Extravagance and unlimited expenditure on marriage bill, 2011, and the marriages — Simple solemnisation, compulsory registration and prevention of wastage of food items bill, 2011, introduced by many parliamentarians could not get laminated and blowed to dust. All these bills talk about the growing extravagance in marriages and how it has become an ugly display of wealth by the rich.
Hence, controlling extravagance is completely in your hand. You can’t make everyone happy. Even if you bring the world’s best chefs and decorators to your wedding, there will always be a bunch of people who would find faults in your arrangements. So, make this day about you and enjoy it as it is only your day.
Relatives, friends and acquaintances will come and go, but you will relive those memories year after year. I can’t speak for all, but only myself. In my view, squandering away years’ worth of savings in a couple of days just to host people you don’t know, and undergo an episode you don’t enjoy is the dictionary definition of wastage. Hence, sacred institution of marriage must remain simple.
About the author: RaviKant Sharma is a freelance writer from Jammu.