Vow Wow!

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.

But now?

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.

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About Bhumika's Boudoir

I love to laugh, and end up being a part of high drama and stormy emotion even when I don't pursue it. Being creative, and communicating with people get me going. I enjoy all the good things in life especially those that are slightly risque, and apologise little, if ever, for all that I do. Literature is a passion and so is music.
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12 Responses to Vow Wow!

  1. Aman says:

    I think most people go to such weddings for that, to see a fair at someone else's cost. I agree, it is depressing!

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  2. Kate says:

    I don't see the point of a big fat wedding of any kind in this day and age. I'd rather put the money towards a deposit for a mortgage personally.Check out this article, interesting insight!My bf and I have discussed it a bit, we're agreed on a church wedding (Catholic). With regards to a reception, as cheap without being tacky as possible. Backyard receptions can be done nicely whilst being laidback and relaxing.

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  3. Eveline says:

    Weddings are an ancient and screwed up social ritual. Elopement is the solution for anyone smart and sane.I can't stand wedding ceremonies that spend a ton of money or make a big production of it.And I will say that you shouldn't get too excited about the cake. Wedding cakes almost always suck. Go with cupcakes. :))

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  4. Eveline, most Christian weddings you can at least get drunk. And stay there. Or dance. Typical South Indian weddings are a terrible bore – even the orchestra plays ever-lasting Kannada love songs. Most of which are shudder shudder. I wouldn't really want to elope but I love the idea of a small ceremony followed by a tasteful party where I can hopefully drink, dance, look good and be happy surrounded only by people who really matter. Kate, welcome to the Boudoir. :)And yes, I feel the same way. I told that to a guy who wanted to marry me and he was horrified. So yes, that's a yes, I won't be saying at all. Backyard receptions are fun, and at least everyone's comfortable and relaxed. Lovely, lovely idea. Aman, I really don't think it's that simple. It's not just about a free meal. But yes, sad.

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  5. Loved the piece, Bhumika. Weddings evoke exactly similar reactions in me: various degrees of depression. The bigger and fatter the affair, the greater the D-quotient. I have nothing to say about two people wanting to get legally chained to each other (though it's never quite as equal as that, and here I'm speaking for both sexes), and wanting to make their 'private' happiness 'public'. In fact, I do love wedding feasts. I am new to this part of India, but within the milieu I come from, I've sadly witnessed a giant revival of the wedding 'with all the works'. There was a period, from the late Seventies to the early Nineties, when a lot of people shied away from elaborate affairs, but from around the same time as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, the wedding empire struck back. And boy, was there vengeance! If you had community-specific rituals earlier, now you have events such as 'sangeet' and 'mehendi' being imported from other cultures as well. And I don't believe there's any connection any more with the social sanction to have sex, because in all likelihood, that has been tried and tested/tasted long before the mehendiwali arrived. This is sounding like a rant. No, perhaps this IS a rant. Maybe, if people have money to throw around, and have nothing better to do, we should let them, or turn the other way. But for those who are possessed by this urge to get married, I can only offer Woody Allen's advice: "Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?"

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Very well articulated Bhumika, According to our ancient scriptures the six deadly sins are Kaama (Lust/Desire), Krodha (Anger), Lobha (Miserliness), Moha (Temptation), Mada (Arrogance) and Maathsarya (Competitiveness.). The last in the list seems to have been overshadowed by the ones before in people's consciousness. Yet these days, Maathsarya seems to be the order of the day. One finds parents giving children names beginning with A in the expectation that later in life, should they share the same score with someone else for some competitive exam, they should get an edge over the other person at least alphabetically. I remember reading somewhere that even if one were to score a victory in the rat race; one would still remain a rat. *Ouch!* Yes, it is a cut throat world out there. Yes, one is taught to run faster, push harder, fly higher. While qualities like grace, tolerance, kindness, patience, generosity and gentleness take a back seat, attributes like speed, smartness, efficiency, competence, decisiveness and ruthlessness are lauded. Mass production is in. Individual attention is out. Excitement is in. Tranquillity, out. In the middle of all this, one finds the mad rush of desperately unhappy souls seeking solace in the anodyne company of so called enlightened souls and lifestyle gurus who calmly end up making more money than corporate giants do and quietly satisfy their love of power by spouting tried and tested clichés about the power of love. Consolation pours out, money pours in. And the poor plausible around end up seeing the so called Marriages as the ultimate destination rather than look around for the needy & help, show them the way to salvation. Quite sad, really.

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  7. Since all my pleas for a small wedding fell on deaf ears thanks to the hungering-for-societal-flattery groom's side…. I had to endure one of those ostentatious weddings with 2000+ guests, of whom I personally knew about 2%. The memory of it makes me shudder and the pictures…I could retch!Unfortunately, our society makes it all about the wedding and less about an actual marriage between two soul mates. Disgusting.

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  8. Chetan says:

    Yes, we are in virtual world…. The concept of marriage in ancient times in India is just union of two souls. There are many examples of Gandharva vivaha (the marriage of the celestials) illustrated in all the holy books. For political and social reasons the concept Gandharva vivaha vanished completely and the concept of arrange marriage and swayamvaras become popular. The “game of marriage” begins and evaluation took place time to time. I do believe in the game of marriage, spending heavy money and time for wedding occasion are worthless. Of course the celebration is necessary when two souls meet…

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  9. Thank you, Midnight Cowgirl, and welcome to the Boudoir. Looks like when it comes to big, fat weddings even cowgirls get the blues. 🙂 (sorry, just couldn't resist that) And yes, Mehendi and Sangeet. Ugh. Anonymous, well-said. Thank you and really welcome to the Boudoir. I don't know if I want to help the poor, mostly I am the poor. But yes, it is a sad world indeed. BB so true, it's all about wedding this and wedding that – and nothing at all about one's quality of life post marriage! Chetan, celebration, most certainly yes. But there's no need to go bankrupt just to celebrate the union of two souls. Also love and lust and all that is fine and wonderful when there is a nice, stable income and a comfortable bank balance. Other wise it is all just so much kashta. Really. 🙂

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  10. Ha,ha! These things are such a bore! The worst are those stupid vegetarian shindigs. Weddings are people's way of saying, "We're going to have sex later, but before that we're going to spend money and just dick around for a bit, in front of a few thousand people!"

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  11. CH4 says:

    Love the title Bhumika! And yes, the big fat Indian wedding is pretty much about succumbing to societal pressures. Budget weddings with a guest list of just close family & friends are looked down upon. Our generation ought to put our feet down & stop this unnecessary expenditure & vulgar (I totally agree with your choice of adjective), ostentatious display of wealth.

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  12. RWS, the worst are the ones where there is no liquor. I can live without a kebab in such a milieu but without a lot of alcohol taken neat – that's why I do drugs. So there. Thank you, CH4, we really should put our foot down. I'm going a little further and possibly saying no to marriage at all. Think of all the money I will save! Hell, I can shop for shoes (and we all know how important they are) for the rest of my life without any guilt. 🙂

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