Anyone who doesn't love a big, blingy, multi-tiered wedding (with at least seven events - shagun, sagai, tilak, mehndi, sangeet, pheras, bidaai - have I forgotten anything?), please raise your hand. Or hold your peace forever. And definitely don't watch Hindi serials. In the last few weeks, a record number of shows have got / are getting their leads married / remarried. If you're still asking "but why?" here's the answer: shaadis fetch big-time ratings. Viewers love watching weddings on TV and then replicating them in real life (that's why so many actual weddings look like they just teleported out of a TV screen - but that's another story. Suffice to say that TV visuals of shaadis have become the real thing now. For instance, the visual of the bride tipping over a rice-filled kalash with her foot before entering her sasural has become the default wedding symbol today - but to which part of India does this ritual belong? I asked around and nobody seems to know. Could some kind reader enlighten me?).
The Wedding No. 1 award should definitely go to (roll of drums): the celestial union of Shiv and Parvati in Devon Ke Dev Mahadev (Life OK) which went on for so long, it seemed like an entire yug had passed before the two were finally declared man (god?) and wife. But the grand wedding pushed the show right up the ratings chart and yes, the sensory overload - the costumes, the jewellery, the profusion of flowers, flags and trishuls -- made for rather heavenly viewing too. Shiv is a powerful and charismatic god but he is also Bholenath - an innocent when it comes to worldly rituals and customs. Yet he, along with his ganas, decides to go through the entire gamut of wedding ceremonies, big and small, for Parvati's sake, often with endearing results. (Asked to give something he holds very dear to him as a shagun, he unfurls the snake from his neck. Unsurprisingly, Parvati's mother faints on the spot). Special mention: Mohit Raina, who plays Shiv with an appealing mix of serenity and strength, is the one man-pillar of this show.
In Balika Vadhu (Colors), the child bride Anandi has grown up, got dumped by her husband, become the sarpanch of her village and is now getting married to the district Collector, Shiv. Once again, everyone plays dress-up with a vengeance - and we're just at the sagai stage right now, there's miles of silk and zari and gota to go through. But there's a shadow over the shaadi - Anandi's repentant husband has shown up and no one knows what's going to happen next (we hope at least the writers know).
In yet another show on the same channel, Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha, the lead pair - Megha, a widow with two children and Mohan, a journalist - has also just got married, amidst much singing and dancing. But once again, there's a complication in the form of the Other Woman from Mohan's past. The shaadi-with-a-shadow motif pops up in Star Plus's Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon too, where the lead pair is getting remarried (the earlier wedding ceremony was a secret one, forced on the heroine by the hero; but now since he's fallen in love with her, he wants to do things properly). We've reached the mehndi ceremony and the villain is already lurking about furtively.
That's not the final tally by any means, but you get the picture. If nothing else, where would shaadi tailors get their inspiration from?