The big fat Indian wedding business is going global. Soon the unique wedding exhibition, Celebrating Vivaha, will spread wings to three countries: Britain, Malaysia and Singapore.
Come May 2008, the wedding extravaganza will charm Britons and non-resident Indians (NRIs) at the Barbican Exhibition Centre, London.
"A three-day exhibition from May 16 will try to cash in on the Indian root and a growing fascination of foreigners for the Indian way of tying the nuptial knot," said Rohit Moona, the business coordinator of the Celebrating Vivaha exposition.
"Currently, the Indian wedding market is worth over Rs 800 billion and is growing by at least 25 per cent per annum. Some NRIs come to India to purchase bridal wear and this effort will help them get it in their current country and will boost the Indian wedding market," Moona told IANS.
The organisers of Celebrating Vivaha are also hoping to take the event to the US, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh by 2009.
The exposition is a platform to showcase the latest in the wedding market. From bridal wear, trousseau packaging, jewellery to lifestyle products ranging from showpieces, cutlery, utensils, paintings and gift items are exhibited and sold at the same place.
The fair even has the facility to offer wedding planners and honeymoon packages.
Organisers and exhibitors were of the opinion that the growing popularity of Bollywood stars and especially the television operas of Ekta Kapoor are catalysing the growth of the Indian wedding market.
"The presence of Bollywood stars in the exhibition yields good results. Besides, women abroad are influenced largely by Ekta Kapoor's soap operas," said Ratika Seth, communication head of the fair.
"People want to organise their weddings as it is shown in daily opera's and they do not mind exceeding their budget for it.
"Whether one believes it or not, Shilpa Shetty is a household name in London. Similarly, Shah Rukh Khan is a mini god in Malaysia. And their presence boosts the business," she added.
The event turned into a pan-Asia fair last year with its first offshore opening in Dubai. The fair is known as In Touch With Fashion there. The second edition of it is scheduled for October 10-13 at the Al Bustan Hotel, Dubai.
Overwhelmed by the response of the customers, both exhibitors and organisers are upbeat about the future.
"I have been associated with Vivaha since the beginning and every time the response of the customers is getting better, especially the walk-in-customers," said Aarti Mehra, an exhibitor, fashion designer and owner of bridal wear label Study by Janak.
"The ratio of immediate sales on the stalls is not too high but 99 per cent clients come back after the exhibition to purchase," added Mehra.
"The Dubai fair proved a runaway hit! And I am confident that my future efforts will consolidate our position as an international event, and help take the Indian wedding global," said Tarun Sarda, chief executive officer of the fair.
The organisers said that this year they will exhibit at Bangalore and Hyderabad and then move on to cities like Nagpur, Indore, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Pune, Jaipur, Coimbatore and Bhubaneswar.
By 2009, they plan to move to 20 second-rung cities other than Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi and Mumbai.