Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The wedding juggernaut

I was watching some Malayalam channels after a long time, because DD Malayalam, the only Malayalam channel I watch if I do watch TV, has stopped airing for a few days. It was an interesting visual experience. Gold advertisements dot the programmes at regular intervals and the jewelery they showcase are exquisite in its design and intricacy. Truly charming. But the regularity of these ads and their opulence leaves you slightly sick, like when you have eaten a bit too many sweets. It was the same sick feeling I had when I attended weddings last Christmas season. And what particularly made me sick was the bridal trousseau!

I understand the need of a bride to look resplendent on her wedding day. But does anybody care other than the family of the couple? And going bankrupt or spending lavishly for a couple of hours is plain wastage unless you are rolling in money. But then I am not talking of that class of people here.

Most of the weddings I attended looked like it took some preparation to get off the ground. The bridal sarees were beautiful. But I wondered what the bride would do with the material after the wedding. My moms wedding saree still hangs in the hangar, as it is white and hence quite useless. She hangs on to it for sentimental reason. Fortunately when she got married, designer Christian wedding sarees were unheard of and she settled for a Benaras silk saree as it was the only material in which you got white sarees in the eighties.

The gold that the brides wore at these weddings would have perked up the sales graph of a dozen Jewelers, steeply towards the north side. Again I couldn’t help but wonder what she would do with it! Live in paranoia for the rest of her life and then hire a bank locker to keep it safe?! And the ones she would use would be the simpler pieces as the extravagant pieces are suitable only if you are a bride and would look silly at weddings or parties outside Kerala.

The number of ads tell a sordid story of entrapment though aggrandizement and mesmeric bondage in the name of tradition. The jewelery houses keep the buying frenzy at cruise control through advertisements upon advertisements that ensure that no sales deceleration happens...ever.

And the race thus created only ensures losers...while the winners i.e the jewelers in case anyone has a doubt, laugh all the way to their foreign banks.

When will the ordinary Keralite wake up and say that this is enough! This is stupid! Lets cut the chase and be the smarter for it???

One refreshing wedding I attended was my cousin sisters. She and her fiancé jointly shouldered the wedding expenses and kept spending to the necessary minimum. All accoutrement at the wedding were reusable and the guest list restricted to the really close or completely unavoidable relations. The wedding raised quite a few eyebrows and finally a grudging and envied acceptance that this was indeed the way to go.

Way to go Neel chechi and Jose chetan!!!

Something has to give. And soon. Or the wedding juggernaut will eventually flatten us as a people and as a culture.


Jiby said...

my sis just got married...i made a lament about the money being spent... all i got was horrified looks from all parties concerned...for a second there, i froze and asked myself if i loved my sis! anyways i can't write about it as i will make too many ppl unhappy...glad u wrote this one. but i decided then and there that when i do get married i wont bankrupt myself just for the sake of a glitzy wedding...remains to be seen if my resolve on this will stay strong.

Deepti said...

Dont all of us call the Mallu brides "alluka jewellery ads" etc etc .. ok ok I know i am being patronising to one Mr. alluka, but isnt he the one most visible on TV.. aah or is it some bhima guy :D
Always wonder, imagine if our weddings were in Bihar .. the dacoits would have a field day :))
Hats off to your cousins for keeping it simple and sweet ..
Nice post anjali :) ( as usual)

Anonymous said...

why dont u see gold as possible investment? gold price has alomost doubled in 2 yrs. Some1 who was wearing a kg of gold in her wedding 2 yrs back must be laughing her to some local bank now. with dollar falling, gold price will continue to rise. atleast with gold, u r guaranteed to get ur money back unlike an overpriced pizza from pizzahut or an overpriced coffee from barista.

anonymous coward

Anonymous said...

Its good to write sensible and useful post with some reality once in a while!good one

silverine said...

Jiby: People are too used to it I guess. No one raises their voice so there is no discussion. Besides weddings are such joyous events :)

deepti: lol! We call them Mobile Gold Showrooms :p Little knowing that while we laugh at others the exact same fate awaits us :p

Anon: It is plausible for the serious investor I guess. But how many mallu gals will sell her wedding jewelry?

Anon: People are at liberty to find the good, bad or the ugly in my posts. It will have no effect on me or my writings though. Thanks anyways that you find this post nice. It wouldn't matter if you found it bad either.

devi said...

I have been reading for sometime now but this would be my first comment. Bear with me..this is going to be a long one..

Frankly I am getting bored of people complaining about the grandeur of a indian wedding. I am telugu/tamilian so let me just call it indian. When I had mine I did want a grand ceremony. I am only child and my parents never took me to any wedding. So the only wedding I ever got to see in detail was mine and ofcourse wanted mine to be perfect. Here is the important part - my parents never paid a dime. For our share of the wedding my mom was complaining as usual about the expenses until i couldnt take it anymore. I was a grad student in USA with funding. I had saved up every penny I could from day 1 and had a neat balance. I told her I'll send that money and she can use it. I should say I did expect her to say 'no thats k'. But never happened. She took all of it and till date shows no regret/pride (that i was able to send the money) about it.

Now you can come back and say whats the big deal..here is my reason. All my life I was brought up on a meagre budget. I literally wore clothes that were torn to college. I was teased in school for my old uniform. It would have been a success story had my family been poor but they were/are not. If ever there was a expense for me including food/books/fees etc..there was this unsaid implication about wedding expenses. Naturally I grew up thinking I was getting a big one. Everytime I had to fight/beg/cry for money for books I was thinking once I get a job I'd put this all behind me. I never once thought I'd have to pay for my own wedding. No one in my family except mom and my husband know about this. Not even my father. On the day of the wedding when everyone was commenting on the grandeur - ofcourse they were complimenting mom thinking she spent the money...I was proud inside. For me it meant I had accomplished something..I could afford a grand wedding @ 23 with just my money. All those days I starved in grad school to save money...well it helped me accomplish my dream although I didnt save money for that purpose. Mind you its not because I am a girl child et al crap..mom's perspective was 'I saved money for your wedding..but you picked the tab on that one so let me just hold on to it and pass it on to you when I am gone'..but for me it was big disappointment...a small example..they had just bought a saree for the pre wedding ceremony and mom was bragging to me how little she had spent but the saree looks great..it hurt..My thought was'Aint I someone's little girl who is going to get married..shouldn't my parents want to spend for my wedding and not look for bargains even for my wedding'..i cant tell you how much it hurt.

Given a second chance I would do it all over again..no regrets..while I respect people who want simple weddings..I'd except it to be a 2-way street. They want simple ..I want a lavish ceremony. When I have kids I definitely want to make their weddings a big one because I know how my wedding was with all the screaming and fighting about money.

Just my perspective..its so easy for everyone to complain about grand weddings while no one really has a simple one or rather few people have simple ones. If people who complained about them really did do something trust me we would have seen a change. I've never seen people openly defend grand weddings...so I had to say something..:D!!

With all that ranting out of the way..must say I love your posts..just hope you blog more regularly..

- devi

mathew said...

I know..I know..you like diamonds more..;-P

But seriously it often amuses me who really likes to wear such amounts of gold..

does the girl like it??
or is it the girl's parents who want to show off??
Does the boy like it??
or does the boy's parents insist on it??

Logically all four are least attractive as far I see.

Jeseem said...

the amount of money Indians waste in weddings is ridiculous. you always see brides in pics with bowed head ( not 'cause of the new hubby, but 'cause of the jewelery). seems people live in that still prehistoric fashion senses. the beauty of a girl wearing a nice Swarovski crystal cannot be matched by the tons of gold jewelery. Indians also need to realize concepts like wedding registry ( that most big US stores offer).
and why calls 100s of people who you barely know or who never care about you anyway.

Dhanush said...

Its really a courageous decision that your cousins took up. Hats off to them. Very hard to achieve especially if its arranged marriage. My parents are already deciding upon the list of things to be addressed before my marriage. And I always shoo them away by saying, I am only for court marriage. Sreenivasan paranja pole njanum parayum - "Njaan Oru Rakthahaaram Angottaniyikkum, kutti ingottu. Pinne oru glass naranga vellam...."


Pradeep said...

It's a hangover of the past. Once a woman's worth was only the gold she wore or possessed. I think times have changed.

silverine said...

Devi: Thanks for the detailed comment :) Really appreciate the time and effort you took for that. And felt sad to hear about your plight. I guess your mom was a very frugal person. People of their generation are. But that doesn't excuse her behavior on her only daughters wedding day. I am not saying that weddings should be without grandeur. It is the single most important day in a guy and gals life and who does not want to look their best! But most of these brides end up looking really ugly with all that gold. It is usually the gold and money on display and not the bride and groom! And most of these weddings leave the parents bankrupt or with huge loans. All I was trying to say is don't be swayed by advertisements and spend within your limits. I sincerely hope that you get to do it again, perhaps for an important anniversary! And nice to know you like my blog. I write when something strikes me, and hence I can only post when that happens :)

Mathew: I would never touch diamonds after watching Blood Diamond! :) To answer you question, it is all done for the society only...sadly.

jeseem: Absolutely agree with you that a nice Swarovski crystal cannot be matched by the tons of gold jewelry!! And the saddest part of these weddings in Bangalore is beggars eating the wedding leftovers thrown in the dustbins.

dhanush: Sreenivasan rocks!! :)

Pradeep: That was new information! But if you ask the present day parents I am sure they would not know why they do it, except because everyone does it :)

devi said...

Hey Sl,
Hehehehe couldnt help myself - wedding stuff gets me all riled up..and this is something I do in person as well. Not tell my sob story but defend wedding expenses however silly it seems. I complain about a lot of other things but not wedding stuff..So if you see someone defending grand weddings its me..logical thinking/common sense be darned. :D!

lets hope striking thing happens very often!


Dhanush said...

@silverine - Very True. He is my favourite cine personality. There is a book called "Sreenivasan - Oru Pusthakam" If you love to read about him. Just imagine this - take out all the movies which he ahs acted or contribuetd as a script writer or director, what is Malayalam Cinema left with then?

Safari Al said...

I travel to and from work in one of those red volvo AC buses that BMTC has. They also have this neato flatscreen plasma/LCD tv mounted inside for commercial adverts.

Guess what... the JOSCO add is the one that is the most frequent. I now even have names for all the chicks that walk on the ramp in the add. The pink banner they hold up in the end that proclaims JOSCO is just...well...horrid and pink.

Another couple of months and I think I will be asking them how their day was when they come onscreen.

| Balu | said...

I hate jewelery selection of mals... why do we 'encourage' those gals to buy chakka chakka malas and valas. they look hideous!

And I thought Christian wedding s were simple!

Mind Curry said...

no comments! these things simply bug me too much! but sadly, things are not going to change so soon either..i am so glad you write about these things..hopefully at least someone becomes sensible. and its refreshing to know that normal people do exist still.

silverine said...

devi: Thank you dear :)

dhanush: You are absolutely right! And whats sad is that no one seems to crop up to carry forward his legacy or build a new one :(

safari al: lol!! I have seen that ad too. the gals look so stiff and that pink banner is gak!

balu: Xian weddings are simple thought not the bridal trousseau :)

mind curry: I guess your post was eloquent enuff and I hope too that a few tend setters will lead the way. After all who wouldn't mind not wasting money :)