It’s official. The days of the big, fat Indian wedding are declared over. Khatam! Says who? Ummm. Says Bollywood. And once Bollywood has spoken, it becomes law. If two gorgeous couples sensibly decide to take their wedding vows away from the prying eyes of strangers, a huge signal goes out to social climbers and wannabes – OTT shaadis are out! Intimate, meaningful swayamvars are ‘in’. And am I relieved! When I heard about the brilliant decision to keep it small, taken by the respective families of Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja (as speculated in the media), and earlier, Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma, I wanted to distribute laddoos in the neighbourhood. Selfishly so. We have a wedding coming up in the family very soon (four done, two more to go), and I am too exhausted to even look up from my pile of ‘to do’ lists! Mind you, this is a very small wedding, even so. While I have enjoyed the pomp and pageantry of our traditional weddings in the past, I am definitely done with that format.
The young today have remarkably clear ideas about their big day. While some opt for destination weddings with just besties and a few family members, others are firm they don’t want guests at all. I know a few who have done away with any and every ritual, preferring a DIY affair, including specially scripted, highly personalised marriage vows.
Weddings ceased to be family affairs and became professionally run super productions about a decade or so ago.
I was talking to a thirty-something, who is a top professional in the multi-crore wedding business. She is single and ready to get hitched. But on one condition: her future husband has to agree to a ceremony that involves exactly 23 people. Why 23? Was it a magic number? Nope. She explained: “Ten relatives and friends from my side, ten from his, that makes twenty. Throw in the two of us, and the priest – 23.” She has seen too many extravaganzas with a cast of thousands not ending very well. Hers is one wedding I’d like to attend. I hope she invites me!
If this pared down trend catches on, thousands of shaadiwala vendors will go bust. Over the past ten years, weddings have become money spinners for a whole set of people associated with the event. Well, that’s precisely where the problem starts, doesn’t it?Weddings ceased to be family affairs and became professionally run super productions about a decade or so ago. Out went the chhachis and chhachas, cousins and buas and taojis and tatyas – in came slick and efficient event managers, and a humongous industry grew out of that switchover. Nothing was ever the same again. Bagging a high profile wedding to ‘manage’ spawned a generation of sharp, shark-like wedding planners whose outrageous fees matched the insecurity of parents, coerced into forking out millions for that ultimate display of a flashy, ostentatious circus that had very little to do with marriage.
Thankfully, our local darzis will get back into the mandap, stitching gorgeous garments for the shaadi like they once used to in grandma’s days. I can’t wait for those old traditions to be revived!
If the new trend does catch on, our fashion designers, whose careers were based solely on the number of embroidered bridal lehengas they sold per season, may have to rethink their business model. So will all the media houses making a killing out of marriage markets promoted by glossies. These were more lucrative by far than the modest number of copies sold in a rapidly shrinking magazine business. To say nothing of the fate of filmmakers cashing in on India’s shaadi obsession with their charming films on the many lovestruck Jaanus and Nanus and Sweetys and Munnus.Thankfully, our local darzis will get back into the mandap, stitching gorgeous garments for the shaadi like they once used to in grandma’s days. I can’t wait for those old traditions to be revived!
Till such time, I am holding my breath. It has been jointly agreed that during our latest family wedding, the emphasis will be on being with people who are there because we love them and who will share our joy.
Yes, we plan to eat well and drink well and sing and dance and, hopefully, some of us will get happily drunk, too. But there it will stay.
One thing I do know, there won’t be any drones hovering dangerously over our heads during the crucial saat pheras. And we will not be dressed in gowns or tuxedos, either. Why did God create Banarasi weavers, if he wanted us to wear ball gowns and tiaras? I hope these aren’t just brave words of a panic-stricken mother of the groom. The truth shall be out in a few days from now. Watch this space!