- The trend of #NeverEndingWeddings
Weddings, they say, are important because they celebrate life and possibility. One tends to share this happiness with all friends and folks in order to make it an unforgettable day. But since forever, we seem to have forgotten the spirit behind these events, i.e. to unite two souls that have vowed to spend their lives together. It is mutual respect and love that is important, not precisely the wedding day. Yet, in the midst of all inherited traditions and newly emerging trends, we have lost the essence of wedding.
A common saying goes, “Many people spend more time in planning the wedding than they do in planning the marriage.” Allow me to formulate a new one on its rhythm that would go like this: “Many people spend money on their weddings more than they invest in their new relationships.” And believe me when I say that the lion’s share of these traditions and trends that are quoted to justify this rule are cultural, self-imposed and useless.
This article does not mean to criticise those who believe in celebrating their love for over a month or who hold at least seven functions as a part of their wedding or, to say the least, who can afford to have an extravagant wedding. Trust me, you guys are not to blame. Those who put you on the stature of ‘trend-setters’ should be blamed. It is but logical to hold accountable not those who can afford and spend but those who cannot afford but want to spend in the name of ‘following the norms’.
Today, an average wedding with four main functions (because Nikah is a separate event now!) costs approximately Rs7 million. This is the cost when you arrange every event in a banquet hall or marquee with adequate decoration and one-dish menu and includes the cash splurged on single-use-yet-not-disposable wedding dresses, heavy gold jewellery, and illogically expensive makeup. Spending such a huge sum on four days as compared to investing it in something that can earn profit year after year is an obvious preference because following the ‘prevalent trend’ is deemed much better than securing future. This has created problem for: a) who manage to keep up with the expenses with difficulty; b) who cannot afford such weddings at all and see their daughters ageing because of this reason.
This problematic approach is not limited to weddings but is found to be deeply rooted in almost every aspect of such people who want to join the upper class while being in the middle. However, what makes the former much worse in its nature than the latter is making the other party spend so that you could enjoy all the festivities. This trend, dear readers, is also a shabby truth that exists in our society as a norm or riwaj.
The burden has slowly and steadily been shifted on the bride’s family to host major chunk of the functions versus one reception that is gladly still the groom’s side’s responsibility. As mentioned earlier, Nikah is a separate event these days which is preferred to be organised in a mosque. But here is the trick: not just any mosque but the biggest mosque in the city, just as Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. The price list of solemnising marriage in different parts of the courtyard is also not hidden from anyone which has to be followed by a feast arranged solely by the bride’s side. Again, this is not for those who can afford and wish to spend lavishly but for those who are made to spend on these events out of societal pressure or that by the groom’s family.
What Baraat would it be if it is not in a grand hall that could accommodate 1000+ people?
There are literally tens and hundreds of events that can precede Mehndi, a night of colours, music and enjoyment which has been an important part of wedding functions in the Indian subcontinent since forever. Ghazal night, Maiyun, Sangeet and bridal shower are just a few to mention. There still exist people who do not like to organise these events when planning their weddings but there are certain who love to take it to altogether another level by arranging functions similar and/or close to what we got to see in Mukesh Ambani’s son’s wedding this year. Watching a video clip from this wedding where all the invited celebrities and members of the family were dancing on the tunes of Bollywood songs with well-rehearsed and commendably coordinated steps reminded me of every Mehndi that is nowadays taking place in our country, whether one can afford it or not. From dance floor to DJ, every single thing costs in thousands and that is not a joke unless the money is not going from your own pocket. And that is the problem: people who are not in the favour of having Mehndis are compelled to arrange them because if they don’t then “log kya kahen ge?”.
Then comes another ‘main’ event, Baraat. What Baraat would it be if it is not in a grand hall that could accommodate 1000+ people? Another ‘celebration of love’ whose price is paid by the bride’s family, this technically marks the end of festivities for which the bride’s side is responsible. The next is Walima or reception that is just another day of feast and festivity, except that the number of guests reduce to half or one-fourth of that on Baraat. For those who are trying to laugh it off: this is a harsh reality the bitterness of which is tasted by most of the parents of daughters. For those who are scratching their frowned foreheads: this is a reality of which you are the part so why frowning?
Those who are criticising Aiman Khan and Muneeb Butt for their #NeverEndingWedding and Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh for their lavish destination weddings followed by many many many receptions need to understand that this ‘trend’ is now propagating downwards. People who cannot afford are forced to follow this trend in order to fit in this society. But these bigwigs do not represent the whole society and thus what they do should not become a trend to follow. A trend should generally be what most of the people in a society can manage to do, not what a little chunk of elite can afford. We are wrong in making our privileged class the ‘trend-setters’. Let them do what they wish to, but apply the same rules to those who are categorised under other lists than ‘A’; let them manage the way they easily can. Only then can this wedding madness be cured.