Nisha and Amit are a worried twosome. Engaged to be married later this year, the Delhi couple has just been informed by the pundit that there are no auspicious dates for a Hindu marriage this year.
In what apparently is a once-in-thirteen-years inauspicious planetary occurrence, there are no wedding mahurats starting July, till the third week of December, blanking out the usually peak wedding season of October-November.
“After July, Brahaspati (Jupiter) will enter Singh Rashi (Leo) and it won’t be a good time to marry,” says Delhi-based astrologer Pandit Daulat Ram. Thus, January next year is likely to see an unprecedented number of weddings.
“Usually, November sees up to 20,000 weddings on a single day, just in Delhi-NCR. All those will get postponed to the few dates in January. We could see as many as 50,000 weddings on January 15-16, the first weekend after the auspicious muhurat begins. Even January 25-26 are likely to be overbooked,” says wedding planner Aakriti Anand of Silhouette Events.
Mass postponement of weddings is likely to lead to crazy traffic jams and overbooked venues, caterers, band and wedding planners.
“Only three or four dates are auspicious this December, and that too only for certain communities, so there will be a mad rush of weddings in January. We already have at least 50% more bookings as compared to last year,” says Anil Thadani, owner of Old Delhi’s famous Jea band.
“We already have about 15-20 bookings per day for December and January,” says Natasha Bhasin Kukreja of TAB Events, an events company that charges over `5 lakh per wedding.
“I’ve already confirmed around 11-12 weddings, for mid-December and many more for January. This is way more than what I was doing last year,” says photographer and videographer Parag Gopale of MemoryLane.
January weddings to be more pricey
With such a large demand for wedding services on a few specific dates in January, the impact has directly come on the prices, sending the wedding budgets into a tizzy.
“Everything we’re trying to book in January is costing us at least twice as much as we had budgeted for – right from caterers and the venue to the beauty parlour,” says Nisha Dahiya, a would-be bride.
The service providers justify the hike in prices. “We’ll have to charge more because there are multiple bookings. So if we were playing at 10 weddings per evening last year, it has now gone up to almost 15-20. Obviously, the customers will have to pay much more,” says Thadani, whose band charges close to `60,000 per wedding, an amount that’s likely to go up steeply.
“The bookings for January are much more than we’ve ever had. Many more weddings on key dates during the busy season means hiring more contractual staff, and training them. This increases my cost as well. So the rates which I’ll have to charge are easily expected to go up by about 20%,” says Kukreja.
She adds that the unprecedented rush also led to an increased interest in destination weddings, which suddenly seem like a viable option in view of the higher costs here.
“Families, who are unable to get the venue of their choice and are okay with shelling out more money to get a hassle-free wedding, are enquiring about destinations such as Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Thailand and Dubai. Even Udaipur or Goa would see a lot of wedding traffic as the cost of organising a destination wedding is coming to be just a little higher than the increased cost in Delhi,” says Kukreja.
With no weddings in the usually busy season, the traffic cops may get a temporary breather in the October-November festive season, only to gear up for a much bigger chaos on the roads anticipated after December, especially in areas such as Rohini, Alipur, GT Karnal Road, NH-8 near the airport, Chattarpur, Mehruali-Gurgaon Road, Anand Vihar and Vikas Marg.
Muktesh Chander, special commissioner of police (traffic) says: “Before booking hotels and banquets for weddings, it is mandatory to get clearance from the traffic police. On days when there are more than five weddings in a particular area, we request people to postpone their functions.
However, on certain days which are considered to be very auspicious, we deploy extra traffic personnel to decongest the area and allow smooth flow of traffic. Along with it, we also ask for guest lists and also allot limited parking.”