My marriage was solemnized in early 80s, an era of simple weddings-‘Band, Baaja and Baarat’ sans over-the-top extravagance of today. My wedding was, in no way a mega affair but definitely, a gala family union. Relatives-close and distant-came from far and wide but no elaborate arrangements were made for their stay. No hotel bookings, most of the guests were adjusted at home and the rest were accommodated by the friendly neighbors. No caterer, but an elderly woman was engaged to do the cooking for the whole lot of guests.
It was the time when Bollywood had not made its mark on Indian weddings except for ‘Babul ki duayen leti jaa……,.’ the sentimental track that resonated at the time of doli in every marriage. Unaffected by Bollywood, my pre-wedding ceremonies were quite a simple affair limited to in-house guests. ‘Sangeet’ was a humble ceremony; women in the family and neibghourhood sang traditional folk songs to the beat of dholak while my sister’s friend applied henna on my hands.
It was in 90s when the spate of movies such as ‘Hum Aapke hain Kon’, ‘Dil Wale Dulhania le jaynge’ ‘Ham saath saath hain’ changed the way Indian marriages were celebrated. Bollywood has jazzed up weddings adding to the glitz and glamour quotient; enlarging the scale enormously. Not only has the big fat Punjabi wedding become fatter but, thanks to Bollywood, the trend is catching up in other parts of the country. Celebrations are not just limited to the wedding day, but are extended affair with a number of intimate ceremonies such as ‘haldi’ and ‘mehndi’, earlier simple family affair, have been elevated to grand functions.
The simple sangeet of yesteryears is now an extravagant musical concert. Members of the Family and friends give dance performances for which choreographers are hired. My niece, the bride-to-be, looked hassled before her wedding. I couldn’t help asking, “Why are you so worked up?” “It’s the pressure of coordinating with the friends and cousins for the performance on my sangeet.” My God! Times have really changed. While we had no say in matters related to our wedding preparations, the bride and groom today not only actively participate in discussions related to cards, venue and menu, but also call the shots.
With a number of marriage palaces in the outskirts of the cities to choose from, selecting the venue for the function, of course, is a major issue. For the guests it may be an arduous hour- long drive but the venue must be over- the- top. All these grand wedding resorts may have a huge infrastructure, yet more often than not, the main halls are abandoned to hold the entire function in their sprawling lawns. Lakhs of rupees are spent on the outdoor décor- magnificent flower arrangements, fancy lights, elaborate tents and gazebos. Here I can’t help mentioning the inflammable material used in creating the set-up.
Indian weddings are becoming more and more ostentatious, destination weddings being the latest trend among the super-rich. It is quite possible one day the venue for the big fat Indian wedding is not an exotic location on the earth but on the moon.
(Published in Chandigarh Tribune on 9 January 2020)