Wedding bells mean big bucks for one and all

We, human beings, can go from the sublime to the ridiculous, really! I know marriages are made in heaven and it’s a solemn business and all that. I also know that “tying the knot” is final, it is an act of god and a milestone in your life. So I can understand the importance of choosing the dates in accordance with the planets and their placements. It is really important whether the moon is full, half or an orange-sized segment. I can understand the importance of choosing the right venue for you can’t have half the city squeezed into a tub-size room, especially with their jewels and heels on. (Women in heels need hard ground to walk on, an expanse of space to unfurl themselves onto). I even understand the need to spend oodles of time on destination or hometown marriages, so relatives and friends can get time to order new clothes and spend more money. The emperor’s new clothes syndrome doesn’t work here. If the bride and groom spend money, so do a host of guests, relatives, distant relatives and hangers-on.

This is what drives the economy. Marriage is a real money-spinner. Ask the hoteliers, the flower wallahs, the hair salons, the chefs, the trainers, the wedding planners, the tailors, the jewellers, the designers, the decorators, the caterers, the performers, the musicians, the mithai wallahs, the card designers, the courier and valet services ... I can’t begin to count the amount of people who profit from just one wedding. It’s like Diwali or new years, a time to empty the piggy bank, become self-indulgent and get a hernia.

This pre-wedding period, when daughters are allowed to freely spend their time and money with their fiances, is now called the “protective custody” period. The time when stocks rise, and parents squirm but with a smile on their faces.

But what surprises me is the absurdity of time, money and energy spent on wedding cards! In the olden days, a wedding card came with relevant information and a reminder of dates, and occasions with some mithai enclosed, as a ‘shagun’. But these days, wedding cards resemble a valise or a mini suitcase. In the past few months, the cards I have received have filled up my wardrobe. For example, yesterday’s wedding card had the picture of the groom and bride in a Shah Jehan-Noor Jehan cameo, tattooed on the box that carried the card inside. The cards snuggled inside a swimming pool type cavity, with a see-through plastic case over them. Like the underwater treasure in The Little Mermaid, the children’s musical. Then sitting beside it was a fat packet of pink candied almonds, beaming the calorie intake per piece. Accompanying this was the daredevil stuff, like two champagne glasses and a bottle of Indian champagne. Not to miss the car parking stickers, as large as headlights in the gaudy packet that was custom-built to carry this load! And a car larger than my gate came to deliver this ‘shaadi ka card’. I wonder what I should spend on their gift to even the odds.

Maybe I should have a ‘trunk sale’ of the cards I have in order to fund that gift.

(The writer is a theatre director and novelist)


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