The big fat Indian wedding…

May is the wedding season for us Maharashtrians… The wedding ceremony itself may have withstood the test of time but that’s about all. Everything else related to weddings is nothing like what was seen probably about 60 years ago. The event is totally ‘nationalised’ for want of another word as celebrations are spread over many days with tid bids added from wedding festivities of other states. So now we have a dedicated ‘mehendi’ some even have ‘sangeet‘ something quite unknown in this area- during weddings at least (and I don’t mean the barat)!

Prime time telly serials have increased our exposure to such events (though I am told some Hindi serials increasingly portray stories about Marathi families) and hey why not! As most families now have one or two kids, there is every reason to ‘celebrate’ in this manner. Splurging on flowers, clothes, jewelery and food seems the order of the day…

An upcoming wedding means women may go on a crash diet to best show off their zari and crepes and are not keen to lose it all in the high-calorie, deep-fried, sugar rich menus that such events usually offer. Others may have ‘weighty’ issues like diabetes, cholesterol (an increasingly common condition among Indians) hence again will not really ‘tuck into’ meals. Gone are the days when the hosts would go round to serve their guests – the exercise mostly consisted of them ‘coaxing’ (the closest possible English equivalent I can think for the Marathi word आग्रह) the protesting individual to eat some more of the sweet. So one often found the occasional guest ‘manfully’ demolishing a plateful of jalebis or several bowls of shrikhand while the ‘lucky’ others had long cleaned out their plates. Instead we now have buffets which has is own plus and minus points…

Most Maharashtrian weddings stick to our typical menu for the wedding lunch। Yet come reception time and most weddings offer a bewildering range of foods ranging from Italian, Chinese, north and south Indian delicacies, chaat, salad bar, fruit and desert spreads.

At some recent events, I found most guests had helped themselves to few preparations and some stalls were almost ignored. I shudder to think of the extent of leftovers at such events. Considering cost of food, is it really morally and ethically correct to be a party to such wastage? Are we worried about being called as ‘less hospitable’ if we offer fewer but well-prepared dishes? Are these ostentatious food spreads meant to be some kind of a statement about our social or economic status?

Do we have the ‘courage’ to stand apart from the crowd?
These are difficult questions with even more difficult answers.
But they demand some introspection…
All the best!

2 Replies to “The big fat Indian wedding…”

  1. What you have highlighted is a very relevant aspect of our society. Especially in the context of the extreme inequality in income and wealth. The other areas we need to grow out of is the urge to splurge on jewelry and to invite a massive guest list. I'm not very sure about these in all regions of India, but in Kerala, it is a scourge. The flip side to "The big fat Indian wedding…", is for well-meaning and liberated individuals to denounce such ostentatious behavior, and to encourage charitable pursuits. Nearly 400 million (40 Crores) live below the poverty line, and over 6000 children die each day due to malnutrition… Each day!!

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