Band, Baaja, Bank Balance

17/12/2015 8:16 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
CHANDAN KHANNA via Getty Images
Members of an Indian wedding band play brass instruments during a religious procession for the Hindu festival Ganesh Chaturthi in New Delhi on September 24, 2015. AFP PHOTO / CHANDAN KHANNA (Photo credit should read Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

There's something about an Indian wedding. Something that compels you to stay happy and jubilant in every moment of those three to four days. The genda phool that gladdens the heart and makes me want to wrap it around my neck like a scarf to the pretty pastel shamianas adorning the periphery of the house, to all the exquisite and lavish lehengas, suits, saris and jewellery that are brought out of their hiding places and paraded during the wedding season... what's not to like?

When the wedding happens to be in your own family it all becomes so much more joyous and special. My brother's wedding concluded a few days ago after a week of very late nights that witnessed a lot of inebriated singing, dancing, laughing, overdue family reunions, friends that came by so often they may as well have moved in to the house for that one week. The highlights of every evening were the choreographed dance practices bringing the youngest to the eldest members of the large family to their feet and, of course, the inevitable gorging on copious amounts of Indian food and sweets!

"Today, if a wedding invitation isn't the size of a mini-suitcase containing embellished and overly 'creative' cards, it just isn't 'inviting' enough."

It isn't called the Big Fat Indian Wedding (or Punjabi Wedding to be more precise) for no reason. The amount of time, money, energy and logistics that goes into the planning and successful execution of an Indian wedding is unparalleled and is becoming increasingly mind-boggling. We had two South Africans, a Spaniard and an American attend the wedding too, who, not surprisingly, were blown away by the magnitude and grandeur of each day's functions - quite a contrast to their relatively understated one-day-long wedding celebrations.

Needless to say, if you are planning to do an Indian wedding in style, your pockets better be deep, heavy and always reachable. With the prices of gold and even flower arrangements increasing each year, it goes without saying that your bank balance will have to endure a sound beating.

Yet, there are some expenses on certain things that, to me, seem completely unnecessary, frivolous and wasteful. And it is on these things that people sometimes decide to spend the largest amounts of money -- for reasons unfathomable. Such as the wedding invitation cards.

We are constantly both amused and baffled at the luggage-sized boxes that appear at our door and after minutes of wondering whether it may be an errant delivery, we unravel the mystery of the giant package -- someone is inviting us to their wedding. Gone are the days when a simple, clear two-page-inserts wedding card sufficed. Today, if a wedding invitation isn't the size of a mini-suitcase containing embellished and overly "creative" cards, it just isn't "inviting" enough. And, of course, the good old mithai ka dabbas have been replaced by fashionably petite boxes of exotic and sometimes phoren sweets.

My point is that sadly all this effort is ultimately of no use as these boxes that are a result of months of planning and hard work will eventually end up in the trash. Or on someone's dressing table to house some of that costume jewellery lying around, at best. So, why not just stick to some prettily designed, simple, elegant and happy-looking cards? Why strain your bank balance on something that will end up in the bin in two days? Not to mention the waste of all that paper, wood and space! Instead channel those finances towards other, more important aspects like the catering for example. A great idea that people are now moving towards are e-invites!

From kids' birthday parties to weddings, the "sho-sha" culture of ostentation has gripped us severely. Rather than focusing on the quality of a product we are busy making sure that no holds are barred in beautifying the packaging - often, the result is garish, over the top and unappealing. And the competition to outdo one another is not helping either.

I cannot forget one wedding I attended that had two real-life elephants stationed on either side of the entrance -- flicking their tails and just standing there. Obviously someone's idea of a grand welcome for their guests!

"Rather than focusing on the quality of a product we are busy making sure that no holds are barred in beautifying the packaging- often, the result is garish and unappealing."

I love Indian weddings. I love everything about them. All the fuss over dressing up, the mehendi, the food, Bollywood music, dancing and the week-long shenanigans that our neighbours are never happy about. But I also feel that some of us need to step back and acknowledge that we may sometimes get carried away and that just because we have the resources, we don't have to fritter them away.

I just read about a couple that decided to donate all the money they had saved up for their wedding for the cause of Syrian refugees, opting for a simple, small reception instead. Not that I am suggesting we all do the same. Everyone has the right to the kind of wedding they want. I am just saying maybe we can become mindful of how blessed we are to have these resources and perhaps introspect on how we should spend it during the wedding season.

Let's not forget that the best things often come in smaller packages.

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