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Indian Lawmaker Seeks to Trim Big Fat Indian Weddings as it is becoming Social statement for most Indian Families

In a country that holds some 10 million marriages a year, India’s booming wedding industry is estimated to be worth about $35 billion and racing ahead at 30 percent a year

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Brides arrive beneath a canopy of flowers for the wedding ceremony. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

With weddings becoming the biggest social statement for most Indian families, a bill that proposes to target the usually ostentatious celebrations has stirred a lively debate – can Indians be persuaded to cut down on the size and scale of marriages?

The big, fat Indian wedding is no longer restricted to the rich. As a booming economy has put more money into the hands of the middle class, they too are staging extravagant, multi-day celebrations at five-star hotels and farmhouses.

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A member of parliament from Bihar, Ranjeet Ranjan, is introducing a new bill in parliament called the Marriages (Compulsory Registration and Prevention of Wasteful Expenditure) Bill 2016, which proposes that those who spend more than $ 7,500 on their wedding should donate 10 percent of the money to a government fund, which wold be used to fund marriages of poor girls. It also seeks to put a cap on the number of guests and dishes served at wedding functions.

Indians spend thousands of dollars on decor to transform banquet halls in five star hotels and farmhouses for marriage functions.

Indians spend thousands of dollars on decor to transform banquet halls in five star hotels and farmhouses for marriage functions.

Ranjan told VOA her aim is to remove the intense social pressure the middle class and others face to host elaborate celebrations. “This has become a status symbol. People sell land, take loans to host their daughter’s weddings,” she lamented. “Parents set aside a fat budget for their children’s wedding, particularly girls weddings.”

Estimates show that many Indian parents fork out one fifth of the wealth they have accumulated on hosting a wedding. While budgets vary widely, many middle class families shell out $50,000 to $100,000 for their children’s nuptials.

In a country that holds some 10 million marriages a year, India’s booming wedding industry is estimated to be worth about $35 billion and racing ahead at 30 percent a year. It is often described as a recession-proof industry, untouched by financial downturns or economic slowdowns.

At colorful Indian weddings, grooms arrive on horses and chariots amid dancing and beating of drums. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
At colorful Indian weddings, grooms arrive on horses and chariots amid dancing and beating of drums. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

New Delhi resident and finance professional Pradeep Bhargava, who has hosted his daughters’ and sons’ marriages in recent years, feels wedding spending has gone a step too far. “We are going 100 percent overboard, trying to show off, trying to be one up,” he says.

Many of these parents recall that their own weddings some three decades ago were relatively simple affairs where family and friends sang wedding songs at home and cooks prepared traditional delicacies.

But that’s history. Now as an aspirational middle class joins the race to put up a grand show, elaborate ceremonies spread over two to five days have become the norm — from putting henna on the bride to choreographed dance shows, grooms arriving on chariots and elephants and exotic wedding feasts with several types of food available. Event managers and wedding planners are no longer just the purview of the rich.

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The spending on décor alone can run into the thousands of dollars said Pooja Gupta from New Delhi based Elusive Dreams, which specializes in adding glitz and glamour to wedding venues. “They want new themes that come out every season, and they really want to transform the face of the venue, and they are willing to spend whatever, unlimited. They want to outdo each other at the wedding,” she said.

Many people vehemently oppose any effort to impose a tax on wedding expenses and say any effort to trim lavish Indian weddings has to be led by society itself.

Sanjoy Pasricha, who is in the midst of hectic preparations for his daughter’s wedding to be held next month, has opted for a destination wedding in the beach resort of Goa. He points out that a marriage is a major event for an Indian family. Strongly opposing any government role in regulating wedding expenses he said, “It’s my decision how much I want to spend. It’s as good as saying that you will have to stop wearing suits and only wear trousers, or you should not wear silk saris, but only cotton saris.”

Putting henna on brides and guests is one of the elaborate ceremonies at Indian weddings. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
Putting henna on brides and guests is one of the elaborate ceremonies at Indian weddings. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Putting henna on brides and guests is one of the elaborate ceremonies at Indian weddings. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

However, lawmaker Ranjeet Ranjan said many people would welcome an escape from the extravagant spending that weddings now involve. “The response I am getting is that a lot of people who spend due to pressure from society will be happy to get the shelter of the law,” according to Ranjan.

The lawmaker, who is from the opposition Congress Party, said she has found strong support for her bill, which could be taken up in the next session of parliament starting in March. Although new legislation typically takes years as it winds through the two houses of parliament in India, she is confident it could pass if the government supports it.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not yet taken a position on the proposal.(VOA)

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Prince Charles Arrives in New Delhi for two day Visit to Meet PM Narendra Modi

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, accompanied by his wife arrived New Delhi for a two-day visit to India to complete their 10-day four-nation tour

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Prince Charles
Prince Charles visits India with his wife for two days. Wikimedia.

New Delhi, Nov 9: Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, accompanied by his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker-Bowles, arrived New Delhi on Wednesday on a two-day visit to India at the final leg of their 10-day four-nation tour that also took them to Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.

“Their Royal Highnesses Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrive,” the British High Commission in India tweeted.

Prince Charles is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday evening and discuss a wide range of issues, including that of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which will take place in April 2018 in the UK.

Prince Charles
Prince Charles arrives in India with his wife. IANS.

Ahead of the royal couple’s arrival, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said climate change, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), economic cooperation, and other bilateral issues would also come up for discussion.

Bilateral trade between India and Britain stands at $12.19 billion. India is the third largest investor in Britain and the second largest international job creator in that country.

Britain is the third largest inward investor in India, with a cumulative equity investment of $24.37 billion for the period April 2000-June 2017

The Indian diaspora in UK is one of the largest ethnic minority communities in the country, with the 2011 census recording approximately 1.5 million people of Indian origin equating to almost 1.8 percent of the population and contributing 6 per cent of the country’s GDP.

This will be Prince Charles ‘s ninth visit to India. He had earlier visited India in 1975, 1980, 1991, 1992, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2013. (IANS)

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India will soon ask Malaysia to extradite Preacher Zakir Naik

India will soon approach Malaysia with a request to extradite hardline Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

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India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik
India will Request Malayasia to extradite Zakir Naik. wikimedia commons
  • India will seek the Malaysian government’s help in extraditing televangelist Zakir Naik who faces charges of money laundering and inciting hatred through his sermons broadcast on Peace TV, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Zakir Naik obtained permanent residency in Malaysia 

Officials will approach their Malaysian counterparts with the extradition request sometime within the next two weeks, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told a weekly news briefing in New Delhi.

“Any formal request seeking the assistance of a foreign government in cases of extradition requires a completion of the internal legal process involving consultation with other ministries involved in the case,” Kumar said.

“At this stage, we are nearing the completion of this process and as soon as this process is complete we will be making an official request to the Malaysian government in this matter,” Kumar said. “It could be a couple of days or a couple of weeks. But it would be soon and the nature of our request would also be clear.”

Naik fled India a month before terrorist carried out a massacre at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in July 2016. This week, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said the Islamic preacher legally obtained permanent residency in the country, and that Malaysian authorities would arrest him only if he broke local laws or was found to be involved in terrorist activities.

Naik’s speeches allegedly inspired some of the militants who carried out the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka, where 29 people, including 20 hostages and five gunmen, were killed.

In November 2016, the Indian government banned Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation, which partly funded the Peace TV channel that is banned in India, Bangladesh and several other countries.

Kumar said because the Indian government had knowledge of Naik’s whereabouts, the legal procedures would be tailored to requirements between the two countries in their extradition treaty.

Advocate challenges charges

“Naik is being hounded because he hails from a minority community. The charges that the investigating agencies are trying to frame are all stale and are hardly incriminating,” advocate S. Hariharan told BenarNews in a phone interview from Delhi.

“The charges lack veracity and would not stand scrutiny in the court of law. We will be challenging the extradition and deportation.”

Last week, the Indian government filed a 61-page charge sheet against Naik alleging he was involved in a criminal conspiracy by lauding terrorist organizations. In April, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him in an alleged case of money laundering through his NGO and a shell company.

In Malaysia meanwhile, the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has urged the government to ignore any request from India to extradite Zakir Naik, Reuters reported.

“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang wrote last week in an opinion piece published in Harakah Daily.(BenarNews)

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7 Bollywood Celebrity Lehenga to Flaunt in the Upcoming Wedding Season

Excited for the upcoming wedding season? Take inspiration from these Bollywood divas and their styles!

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Celebrity Lehengas
Wear Celebrity Lehengas for your special day. Instagram.

New Delhi, October 23, 2017: The wedding season is knocking the doors and you must be excited to flaunt your best at the occasion. This time present yourself in the beautiful lehengas worn by Bollywood actresses and look gorgeous to make your evening a memorable one.

Look stunning like Deepika and enjoy the charming attention of all. Brace it with an exquisite piece of kundan jewellery to add up  the radiance. 

Celebrity Lehengas
Deepika rocks the show in this navy blue royal lehenga. Instagram.

Dazzle your wedding evening with this celebrity lehenga of Kareena Kapoor’s. A messy hairdo and matte lipstick will give you an awesome look. 

Celebrity Lehenga
This Wedding Lehenga of Kareena Kapoor is just superficial. Instagram.

Get the angelic look similar to the gorgeous Sonam Kapoor. Use minimalistic jewellery to add authencity to the attire.

Celebrity Lehengas
Sonam Kapoor in Abujani Sandeep Khosla gown. Instagram.

Get the classy chic look in this floral piece adored by Shraddha Kapoor. Pair the attire with wine red shade on your lips to enhance the look.

Celebrity lehengas
Shraddha Kapoor in Floral attire at a fashion show concert. instagram

Dia Mirza ensembles this studded lehenga over a rose braided bun and nude lipstick

Celebrity Lehengas
Dia Mirza looks ethereal in this blue shiny gown. Instagram.

Look enticing like Alia Bhatt in this off white lehenga with a crop top or embroidered blouse for the wedding evening.

P.S: A high bun will work wonders on this outfit

Celebrity Lehengas
Alia Bhatt flaunting the gorgeous look. Instagram.

Get that hot and sexy look like Kriti Sanon if you are one of the besties of the Bride-Groom. This off shoulder green lehenga should be paired with beaded chandbali and minimal makeup.

Celebrity Lehengas
Kriti Sanon in turquoise green crop top looks ravishing. Instagram.