I went to a big, fat Indian wedding. I usually desist this sort of an outing but my choices were limited. Also my parents promised I could dress anyway I wanted to and not heap myself with gold jewellery.
It was organised in a super colossal marriage hall off the Outer Ring Road in Bangalore. It had a huge playground sort of area right outside the main hall. It was perfect setting for the type of wedding that was organised – a multi-coloured fair.
There were fat men dressed in costumes to enthrall and enchant children and grown-ups alike (a whole post waiting to be written on that alone); children played on a tarpaulin slide, a merry-go-round, or just caught colourful balloons by the zillion and cheered happily.
There were also food stalls – chaat, ice-cream, fruit-juices, maghai paan, cotton-candy, popcorn and besides all that a welcome drink and dry fruits.
And then there was the decoration. Reams of satin, shiny cloth in various hues posed coyly beside fountains of water and potted plants. There were large, resplendent brown leather sofas with blue and white trimmings fit for a queen – albeit one with no taste.
And there were flowers everywhere. In all possible colours of the rainbow, of all possible types of flora. All arranged in as ornate a fashion as possible.
It was heavy, cloying, and full of everything rich and vulgarly ostentatious.
Vulgar is my word. I am a minimalist unless I’m doing the whole rainbow parade, a drag queen ensemble, or am simply undecided about which colour to wear, but yes, vulgar is my word.
Sitting down for dinner, I saw a few gate-crashers – poor and looking for a quick meal. One man saved his sweets (there were around 5 different kinds of very expensively made sweets) for last. He unwittingly dropped the last one on the floor. Chagrined, he waited till everyone had finished with their meals and then rose to leave. But as he left, he picked a few left-over sweets off other people’s used plates.
It saddened me. And it’s not because of the poor man. After all one doesn’t sympathise with someone when one is so often wearing the same shoes. I might be working in what is called an MNC but I know there are days when I have less than Rs. 2 in my wallet. So I am as poor as he is. May be poorer. And may be it was his happy day – he got a free meal that was full of sinful calories and rich to the core. And surely a lot of people made an honest livelihood through the wedding.
But I can’t help but feel it’s too much of a song and dance for just two people to have legitimate, socially approved sex, share genes and multiply the number of their relatives.
Why do we need that level of socialising now? Earlier there was a great divide, lives were almost insular, people tended to stick to their immediate families and fields and areas of businesses. Marriages were the only occasions one had to meet and greet and mate with people one otherwise never saw.
I know many people are rich and they believe that one’s marriage is the greatest achievement of one’s life. And so it has to be celebrated in a fashion that will arouse pique, jealousy, and absolute pride of the clan.
But a big fat Indian wedding today? I don’t want to be prudish or moralistic and say something trite like when there are so many poor people and starving, orphaned children everywhere.
But a big fat Indian wedding in my head makes sense only at a time when there was a world without the internet, when there were no soaps on TV and the radio didn’t play funky music, and pubs did not have super-saver offers on beer and screen World Cup football matches on big flat LCDs!
I finally came outside only to see the mad rush for free, unlimited ice-cream, as adults and children alike went around eating and wasting cups of different flavoured ice-cream by the dozen.
There I was, surrounded by flowers and everything bustling and cheerful and rich, yet I was depressed beyond measure.