Marriage is not just a union of two persons but the union of two families and to celebrate this union, people go to any lengths in Delhi especially to make the celebrations a “success”. Marriage
functions have always been special for bringing together long lost relatives. An important ingredient of these celebrations are the rituals which are performed by relatives – the chachis and tais (aunts). However, in the past decade, a trend has been observed that marriage functions are not solely being celebrated by the families to express their joy and happiness. In other words, marriages have become a tamasha and an increasing display of pomp and wealth.
Marriage functions in Delhi, aptly termed as rich Indian “fat” wedding, is an extravaganza where the celebrations do not focus on just the bride and the groom. Right from the themes (yes, there are different themes for decorating the venue) to the food (multiple cuisines are lined up ranging from Thai curry, to hamas pitta to gol gappas) to the cameras which cover the entire jamboree, marriage celebrations in Delhi aim towards highlighting the wealth rather than focusing on the special moments which make for long lasting photo albums.
As the saying goes: “Marriages are made in heaven”, the real action, however, takes place at an over decorated venue with a loud DJ playing Bollywood numbers. Looking 10 years back at the
wedding business, the significance was paid to the rituals. What has changed over the years is the adaptation of new, innovative ideas to make the D-day (the day of the marriage) a grand hit.
According to a wedding photographer (who does not wish to be named), “Back in the 90s, the focus was on recording video footage and capturing stills of only one function, that is the wedding day. Even during those days, not much attention was paid to the clarity of the videos made. Families focused primarily on the rituals. That is what made marriages special. However, especially in Delhi, not only ace DSLR cameras and the best equipments are used but people also ask for drones (cameras fitted to an object flying over). These drones capture everything right from the decorated venues to the foods to the baraat (the procession led by the groom which arrives with a large number of people dancing to dhols).”
In recent times, the main focus is on food caterers, the best quality of speakers used in the DJ set up and the photography sessions. The ‘pre-wedding shoot’ is the new bug which has spread far and wide. Prior to the wedding, the girl and the boy get some candid photo shots clicked. The cost of these photo shoots range anywhere from Rs 90,000 and runs into lakhs.
Depending on the quality of the pictures a person wants, the professional cameramen armed with their DSLR cameras give the would-be bride and the groom an array of options. What used to be the much awaited day for a girl, in the process of these innovative photo shoots, loses charm.
In many traditions the girl and the boy are not allowed to see each other. However in these pompous times where traditions and the values are taking a back seat with each passing day, another celebration lined up before the D-day is cocktail night where the bride and bride-brigade, apart from the pre-wedding photo session, once again pose for the shutter bugs. This whole affair of getting clicked dims the excitement.
Coming to the most important (important to the guests) part of a wedding-the food which the guests flock to the marriage for, is best described as an extravagant food festival where varieties of dishes are on display.
The typical menu, which includes a standard list of starters including six snacks and five dishes in the main course apart from three to four desserts, is the usual affair at every wedding. “I have heard a lot about Delhi weddings. Belonging to Kanpur, I was actually not very excited by the prospect of how there was lot of pomp and show. Had more attention been paid to the rituals which is the norm, the wedding which I attended could had been great. Here, people were more interested in showing off their outfits and dancing to the DJ beats, which is okay but there was no charm left since everyone got tired and nobody paid attention to the “phera” ceremony,” said Tripti Dubey, a home maker.
Attributing marriages in Delhi as a growing part of the showiz, Aishwarya Aggrawal, a student of Deen Dayal Upadhyay College said, “Living in Delhi since I was born, I feel that marriages in Delhi are inclined towards materialism. Nowadays, people go for designer outfits, flashy and over decorated venues and expensive cars as “gifts” (dowry, in layman’s words) to the respective families. I believe that this pomp and show off can be due to the increasing budget and that also explains how people are ready to shell out crores for the three to four events related to the wedding. In light of the growing pomp and show off, wedding planners and event management firms are sprouting in large numbers to cater to the demands of the Delhi wedding scenario,”.
“Back in 1980s, the catering business focused on serving traditional food items which were
mostly prepared in the courtyard of homes. Now people don’t want to mess their home so we offer them packages which include a set of basic food dishes. People also want to include different intercontinental cuisines which they search online. This further makes the preparation of the dishes time consuming which agin puts burden on caterers like us. Now we too have adapted to the tastes of the people and though it took time to include inter-continental food in our menu, what matters is that our clients are happy with our food. My business has expanded only because of the word to mouth marketing by my clients who have secured services from me,” said Satish Nagpal, a food caterer of Central Delhi.
Meanwhile, Neha Sharma, resident of West Delhi spoke on how she was fed up of the rush and the chaos which follows a Delhi wedding. She said, “I was born in Delhi. Yet I was bored with the taam jhaam of the weddings which I have grown up seeing around me. Therefore, I asked my parents to book a five star hotel on the outskirts of Delhi. Even though it cost my family Rs 1 crore, the wedding ceremonies which lasted for three days were enjoyed by all. I was most concerned about how the guests would travel so I booked the rooms. It was a conscious effort to avoid the hassles of the Delhi traffic and the mess and the clutter left behind in the girl’s and the boy’s homes post the wedding.”
Moreover, Neha’s father said, “We did what we thought was best for our daughter. Although I look loan from a lot of friends for my daughter’s marriage, I had no choice but to resort to booking a hotel. Beta society mein jeena hai toh izzat rakhne ke liye itna paisa toh kharch karna hi padega (child, if I want to live in the society, I need to live with dignity and respect and to live like this, one has to empty his pockets.)”