Indian weddings are known for their extravagance. It's party time for the guests but a burden for the host who has to shell out life's savings for the occasion. There was a time when people were really excited about attending weddings.
They would take time out to bless the couple and interact with the family rather than just concentrate on the delicacies on offer. Today, however, most of us hardly get the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the bride and groom either because we're running late or they are busy getting photographed.
When the invitation comes, barely anyone is curious to enquire about the bride or groom. The only thing that matters is the venue and time. Entreaties of "you have to come" are followed with the promise, "Of course, of course." Many hosts avoid fixing a time for the rituals and go with an ambiguous line, "Doli: taaron ki chaon mein". At least we're sure the party will be over by dawn.
Once at the wedding venue, I wonder why we rely so much on 'mantras' or verses that most of us can't follow. The ritual is a mere formality.
Women arrive adorned in heavy makeup and heavier gold and diamond ornaments. While they get busy estimating the cost of gifts the bride's side has given the groom, their husbands join the heated debate on social issues as if they are going to reform society the very next day. In the heart of hearts, everyone is enjoying the snacks in anticipation of the lavish dinner.
Seconds after dinner is announced, the race begins. No one cares to ask the host or hostess if he or she has had something. In the pandemonium that follows, it's rare that your outfit will come back in the same colour and condition in which it was when you left home earlier in the evening.
At a recent wedding, I was in for a shock when I saw a gentleman, who was well dressed, but yelling in the crowd only because his name had been left out during the 'milni' (a tradition to welcome the groom's family usually with blankets and money). I was disappointed that despite being well-off, he was fighting for a blanket!
I am often baffled by the behaviour of guests at weddings. I wonder why their expectations double and they end up embarrassing the couple's parents.
It's acceptable that everyone is busy these days, but the irony emerges when people find the time to criticise the arrangements the morning after. How painful it must be for the hosts to have spent a huge amount only to face criticism at the hands of their own.
I can't say if the trend to give and demand dowry has seen a dip, but lavish weddings sure have become a matter of concern nowadays. Unlike earlier when weddings were get-togethers where guests were served lovingly on humble, leafy 'pattals', today sadly they have been reduced to an occasion to flaunt wealth and connections.