Multi-billion dollar wedding industry, attracts huge spending, no wonder we all call it as big fat Indian wedding. According to an estimate (www.businessinsider.in), the industry is over INR 100,000 crores. This is a staggering number. No wonder Indian wedding is an event of magnitude proportion. Where there is money involved, financial institutions come smelling the opportunity. One may question the reasoning behind it. People (not always) do tend to take a mortgage for the function as the social reputation is at stake. This can be seen in both urban and rural scribes. No matter the economic strata of the family, one does tend to spend more than his pocket on a wedding function as the influence in society comes into the picture.
No doubt wedding industry is the huge income and employment generator and does help in the economic growth of the country. But somehow it feels like a showcase of once wealth and reputation in society. The rituals, the traditions does sometimes take back seat considering time factor.
Hey! Enough with the background on Indian weddings.
Let’s come down to one unique experience that I had during my trip to a village in Bundelkhand region. Bundelkhand was once a glorious princely state. Now divided between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, two big states of India.
I happened to visit this village in Banda district of Bundelkhand during the wedding ceremony. So yes, I was a gatecrasher in the ceremony. I must admit it was a pleasant experience at the rural wedding. Bride and Groom dressed in simple attire, no extravaganza. The wedding was a very simple affair. Nature played the part too with this beautiful headgear for the Groom.
(Groom all decked up with beautiful headgear)
Simple, traditional musical instruments were enough to create that dancing mood. Within no time all the village folks were dancing and no it was not famous snake dance of the weddings :-). This music was more appealing to the mind than what DJs play at the urban weddings.
(Local Musicians playing at the wedding)
I did get a delightful surprise, though, the experience I never expected. Every village household was a participant in the function. To my amazement, I saw villagers bringing food grains (rice, wheat, pulses etc) anything, in quantity one can afford. This tradition puts less pressure on the father of the bride. As everything goes with the groom. It is not dowry but much better concept than that. Also, even Muslims attended the wedding and contributed their share. This was a unique experience and can never be forgotten.
(Acknowledging and collecting food grains received from the villagers)
Wedding as a reunion opportunity:
The marriage function can stretch along many days. Every day a different function with a different meaning. I could sense the reasoning behind this logic, I was curious to ask locals. This is what I was told
“we never had any source of entertainment, relatives were living at distant locations so functions like marriages acted as the perfect gathering point. Our lifestyle was and still is very simple, work in the fields or some odd job and come back home. We had a lot of spare time for ourselves. Because of these weddings we all could spend time together and enjoy our togetherness.”
(Village women happily dance at the wedding function)
Simply put, rural weddings are a delightful experience. No wedding is complete without this ritual. Always a difficult moment, when you realize that moment has come. New family, new responsibilities awaits for the bride.
(Time to leave Father’s house for the bride)
Urban wedding mindset:
Let me switch over to our urban mindset on weddings. Now weddings are limited to few hours, not even a full day function sometimes 2 days at maximum. We invite only chosen few relatives to keep the expense at the minimum, oddly enough not even neighbors are invited. Symbol of individualistic society we are becoming?
Of course, there is no comparison on splurging power in weddings between urban and rural. The traditions, rituals that make the wedding what it is.
Looking at the positive, people in villages are still clinging on to their traditions in the middle of a constant attack from outside through media channels especially T.V and these private corporations are latching on to it. There is so much more to write on rural weddings which of course needs multiple blog posts.
This wedding extravaganza does provide a direction our society is moving towards. All glories to the great Indian Fat Wedding
This rural landscape is spectacular. The more I travel the more it reveals itself to me layer by layer. So much to learn, so much to explore.