NEW DELHI - A
royal palace in Rajasthan as your wedding venue? Or a white-sand beach?
A plane-load of orchids specially
flown in from Bangkok? Or a pop band from the Philippines to sing for your
The answer to all these requests
is 'no problem'.
Welcome to the great Indian
wedding where parents think nothing of spending 500,000 (S$18,600) to one
million rupees for the event. And that's only for the middle class.
Move up the socio-economic ladder
and there is literally no limit to the wedding expenditures of the wealthy
The figure of 50 million rupees
has been hinted at in gossip columns.
'Just on decor, upper middle-class
families can spend 10 million rupees,' said the organiser of a popular
bridal show in India.
'But it is impossible to put a
finger on an industry turnover figure. It is enormous, but nobody knows just
how much because families don't like talking about how much they spend,' Ms
Divya Gurwara told The Straits Times.
The show Bridal Asia, held on the
eve of northern India's winter wedding season, is a good barometer of how
weddings are evolving into mega events worth billions of dollars to the
When the wedding extravaganza
first made its debut in 1999, the show drew only 40 exhibitors and 9,000
Today, it has more than 80
exhibitors and draws an estimated 28,000 visitors from India as well as
Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, Canada and England.
Apart from wedding clothes - which
range from 500 to 40,000 rupees apiece - the show now offers a plethora of
'ancillary' services, from astrologers to gem advisers, consultants on gift
packaging and beauticians.
In fact, for many of India's top
fashion designers, the bulk of their income comes from the money they make
from wedding clothes.
Depending on the social standing
of the families, a typical Indian bride would tailor-make several outfits,
complete with exquisite jewellery.
Some mothers even start saving up
for trousseaus when their daughters are only eight years old.
'Parents save their entire lives
to finance weddings, and Indian families are still close-knit and
conservative and a wedding is a major issue,' Ms Gurwara said.
Wedding planner Jai Raj Gupta
'It's always been ostentatious,
but certainly the middle class is trying to move up the value chain.
Weddings are now better organised. They are spending more but also spending
wisely,' he said.
He added that there were also
marked differences in how families from various parts of India went about
'In the north, they are more
ostentatious. In West Bengal, more restrained and artistic. In Maharashtra,
conservative. In Gujarat, as well as the Punjabis, extravagant is the word,'
Gaining popularity among Indian
couples is destination weddings. Around US$2,000 (S$3,600) will buy a modest
wedding for a small group of people in a Rajasthani palace or on a beach or
in the Himalayas, he told The Straits Times.
Also on the rise are wedding
planners like himself.
Ms Pallavi Agarwal, a planner,
said that instead of having scores of relatives coming together to prepare
for a wedding, families now turn to professional wedding planners.
'Many feel it's okay to tell your
budget to a stranger rather than to family members who will remind you of it
for the rest of your life,' she told The Straits Times.
'But while there are many
who are giving more money to the bride and groom as opposed to spending on
frills, there are as many who are spending more on frills in order to make a
statement.' - By
14 October 2002
Tai Tai's - here's flip side to
marriage in Indian culture.
Two-year-old to pay for
MULTAN (PAKISTAN) - A
village council in Pakistan punished a man for adultery by ordering his
two-year-old niece to be betrothed to the husband of his alleged lover,
police said yesterday.
Tribal elders also ordered Mohammed Akmal, 20, to
pay a fine of 230,000 rupees (S$6,300) to Mr Mohammed Altaf, 42, who has
since divorced his 32-year-old wife.
Police said the Kacha Chohan village council
decreed last week that the two-year-old would be married to Mr Altaf when
she turns 18.
Area police chief Maqsoodul Hassan said officers
have begun investigations, but had made no arrests because no one had filed
a complaint. - ASSOCIATED
PRESS 22 Feb 2005