Sunday, February 2, 2014

Antilla Weddings


There was this little conversation that became a discussion, an argument with raised voices and even then it was difficult to hear over the snarling sound of traffic and the tuk tuk of the auto rickshaw engine.  The shouting that was more partially out of disagreement with the other, annoyance and partly because of the din and noise on the busy road ceased abruptly when the destination was reached. I and R (my daughter) have not taken up the argument from where we left it lurching that late evening.

However the point which I presume she was arguing about was one’s freedom to spend as much money in any which way as one wants one one’s wedding and that it is one’s prerogative. I wonder if she disagreed with the vulgarity and inappropriateness of that vanity in the context. Though she dismissed the possibility of her aping in her life such profligate flaunting and that sounded remarkable!

What prompts me to bring up this subject in the Post is that it is disheartening to see at close quarter young women and young men disinclined to even think of avoiding ostentation and vanity. Certainly the major guilt has to be apportioned upon the parents. Upon the miserable argument of upholding tradition and convention they wittingly or unwittingly assign women as an instrument and the solemnness of wedding as a spectacle.
I mentioned to an elder person about a recent commendable instance where a promising young actress in the Malayalam film industry wed her colleague without such jaundiced display of wealth. In fact the young couple went to the Cancer Center & hospital in Kochi and donated fifteen lakhs of Rupees by cheque. I also told her that people want to be like the Jones next doors and even be one up on the other by displaying and flaunting. She disapproved my statement and said that we must respect the opinion of the general public and cannot be singularly revolutionary. She exclaimed that if Sonia Gandhi does something that may be lauded but if we were to do the same people may ridicule.

So the onus is volleyed around.

I do not disagree that wedding day is in our midst still once in a life time pleasance. People would want to be special and be doing something extraordinary on the day. But decking the bride head to toe in gold and precious stones, hosting sumptuous multiple course dinner for folks already ploughed under by their over indulgence and gluttony is something that must be recommended forcibly for eternal rotting in hell if there is an afterlife.

Looking at the gatherings at a couple of wedding recently (one in the family) I mused if we Indians tend to have a wide spread of relatives, friends and acquaintance than the average family in the West.
R, after the wedding in the family expressed her incense and anguish at the bride being decked up like a marionette over burdened with heavy silk sari and loads of gold all over her besides having to change her robes a few times, while the fella was walking about as if on a stroll by the beach. It is difficult to ignore the empathy and the virtual feeling that she expressed. Would she change her opinion that there need be unrestrained display and spending of money on weddings? Would she agree it cannot necessarily be one’s prerogative to hurl around ones wealth even if it is earned?

She may not disagree, I’m sure that it is still a masculine world however and as much the emancipators (sic) want to liberate the female sex. However and as much the haute couture damsels on prime TV channels discuss and debate the liberated Indian women.


In comparison there is no difference between the Ambani’s obscene eye sore, his mansion the “Antilla” overlooking the slums of Mumbai  and the average wedding in Mallu land.

18 comments:

Usha Menon said...

My opinion is that a vulgar show of one's wealth should be avoided in a marriage. You are correct that the bride is loaded with ornaments, which makes her look like a showpiece to display the wealth of the parents.It is silly. As far as possible marriage should be a simple affair.

KParthasarathi said...

Whether it is brazen display of wealth or not is something that depends on wherefrom you are looking at the celebration. If you are one of the multi-billionaire classes where guests are ferried in chartered planes to exotic places where wedding takes place, you may not see anything out of ordinary. To those hapless who do not have much, it may be ostentatious and vulgar display.Filmy, corporate and political classes generally are showy.
If such rich are already involved in liberal philanthropy, why grudge their spending their own money. They have the right though one can ask is it ethical or wise to show off.
I see nothing seriously wrong in R’s view. She is right in her opinion though celebrations on low key do not attract unwelcome attention. Ostentation is again relative as a wedding even by a lower middle class person may seem expensive to poorer sections. The force of tradition and the fear what others will think makes many borrow and spend beyond their means. It is this class that should avoid wasteful expenditure

Insignia said...

Interesting topic Anil. Isnt wedding called a family affair where the families put up a show to the world how happy, wealthy and prosperous they are. Whatever; I think all that matters to a visitor or guest or even to a family member is a fistful of food - the bare necessity.

Are weddings a vulgar display of wealth? It does; even more ridiculous when the family borrows and pawns other things to spend for the wedding.

Renu said...

I think that what is ostentatious is quite a relative term..my maid must be always finding me that..

What should be avoided is the wastage..wastage of food is criminal, where so many go to bed empty stomach.

And only those people should spend who can afford it and do it without disturbing their financial stability, not for the sake of keeping up with the joneses.

Personally i dont like it myself but I cant grudge those who spend their own money..but in my opinion most of the people who get easy money spend like that not the hard earned ones..

Happy Kitten said...

Who will bell the cat?

Personally, most of us want the "Big, fat and sometimes ugly Indian weddings" to die so that we can have some peace of mind before and after the wedding. But even if as parents we want a simple wedding, I doubt if the society will allow us to do it.

All one can do now is to hope that one may find a family with similar views.

And I agree with Renu: easy the money comes, easy it goes off too!

and let the rich and super rich spend their money instead of locking it up in banks and lockers, as long as the rest don't copy their acts of spending!

BK Chowla, said...

Spending Crores on wedding is a status symbol.

Meera Sundararajan said...

Weddings in India are occasions for people to "show off" their wealth. The gold on the bride's person was at one time an indication of her personal wealth as she had no access to any other form of assets. But today it has become mandatory in many communities. Inlaws demand x kg/gms of gold, a grand wedding etc. Most often there is no opportunity to even talk to friends and relatives at weddings because of the crowds. But then it is people's option. If someone wants a grand wedding with a couple of thousands of invitees it is their call.

rudraprayaga said...

Wedding has become a venue for exhibiting the wealth(Even borrowed cash)putting the have-nots to utter disappointment.It(w.day)of course the bride and groom should be kept conspicuous with moderate decorations, since it is their privilege,once in their life.One bride's all the ornaments of 500 sovereigns could not be displayed and so C.D was played on C.C T.V in the hall.If the haves see one or two weddings of the under-privileged take place on the same day,that would be godliness. Relevant topic at relevant time.

Ashwini C N said...

We Indians tend to overdo things and being ostentatious has become a fad. I dont know why people would spend money just to impress a thousand people who they are not that bothered about.

Tracy Terry said...

I can't help but think that the onus is often on the ceremony itself, that some couples are more in love with the idea of being given the opportunity to outdo family and friends with what they see as ever bigger and 'better' weddings rather than the the thought that this is a life time commitment.

Rama Ananth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rama Ananth said...

We believe in simple wedding. In fact in our Tambram community, more and more people are opting for very simple weddings which gets over within an hour and simple but delicious wedding food is served. Then a simple reception in some hotel, or some big garden. Gone are the days when marriage meant almost 3 days of agony. In fact, now the trend is just going for a court marriage with a reception thrown in for close friends and relatives. Even the distribution of wedding cards are not done personally, and many are emailed.
Of course, there are still some people in the south who include ceremonies like mehandi, geet, and there is lot of show shaw like in the North, which is actually very boring.

Rama Ananth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Haddock said...

All said and done, that is one of the worst construction I have seen in Mumbai and to think the amount of money they have spend on it. The Sr A must be turning in his grave.

Tracy Terry said...

Stopping by to say hello.

Happy Kitten said...

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/nri/other-news/Another-big-fat-Mittal-wedding-in-Europe/articleshow/27439645.cms

NRIGirl said...

Hmm... A big sigh is all I can respond. Personally I like simple happy weddings where there is much fun and laughter and heartfelt wishes...

Now, from what you have shared of the "argument" with R, I think you got her view wrong. She was all for the quality and not the quantity I am sure. How can I be so sure? Because I have had similar discussions with Papa and most often he missed my point completely. Because we look at things from different perspective and can't quite convey the matter. With our mothers though it is a different story - they know us without us having to explain a thing.

So here's wishing you both many more such "arguments" and always happy endings!

anilkurup said...

@ NRIGirl,
Now after knowing of your self in this comment , I understand why my spouse is cool and easy with the daughter.