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Opinion: Invaders Of Our Life’s Savings, Weddings Must Remain Simple

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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.

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.

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.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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