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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)

Next Story

Tips for Setting Up a Pre-Nuptial Agreement

Pre-nuptial agreements are often associated with those who have a lot to lose if something goes wrong

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Pre- Nuptial Agreement, Marriage, Wedding
Pre-nuptial agreements can often cause arguments and so you need to make sure that you communicate effectively. Pixabay

Are you planning on getting married in the near future? There are many things that you need to think about from the location of the wedding to the guest list – but have you thought about a pre-nuptial agreement?

Pre-nuptial agreements are often associated with those who have a lot to lose if something goes wrong, but they are actually much more common than you might think. Here, we are going to give you some top tips to help you set up your pre-nuptial agreement. Keep reading to find out more.

Find the Right Solicitor

Before you even get started on your pre-nuptial agreement, it is important that you have a solicitor that you can rely on. There are certain solicitors that you can find that specialise in this kind of matter, for example, some of the solicitors in Garforth. Your solicitor should be experienced, and they should be putting your needs first. Once you have the right solicitor you can move onto the next step.

Pre- Nuptial Agreement, Marriage, Wedding
Consider your own financial position and your partners.

Communicate Effectively

Have you spent a lot of time discussing the idea of a pre-nuptial agreement with your partner? This is the person that you are planning on spending the rest of your life with and if you can’t agree on this now then it might cause more problems further down the line. Pre-nuptial agreements can often cause arguments and so you need to make sure that you communicate effectively.

Be Fair

If you want your agreement to be upheld further down the line, then you need to make sure that you are fair right now. An unfair agreement could cause problems for you and so you will want to make sure that you are not agreeing to something which isn’t entirely fair. Consider your own financial position and your partners. This should then help you to get your pre-nuptial agreement on track.

Also Read- Sea of Protesters Fills Hong Kong Streets over Extradition Law

Do It In Advance

A rushed pre-nuptial agreement is often one that comes with a lot of pressure and this can mean that people agree to things that they wouldn’t have under different circumstances. This is why we suggest that you try to set your pre-nuptial agreement up well in advance of your wedding in order to give both sides the chance to have a read over the terms carefully and make the right decision for themselves. Don’t let the pressure of the upcoming nuptials get to you, this is a life-changing decision and you need to make sure that you are making the right one.

Final Thoughts

A pre-nuptial agreement can be a great way of making sure that you are covered should things go wrong but you need to make sure that you don’t let it affect your marriage in a negative way. This is why we suggest that you follow the advice that we have given you in this article if you want to ensure that everything goes smoothly. If you haven’t already considered a pre-nuptial agreement, then now might be the right time.