Is ‘big fat’ a status symbol?

How did Indian weddings get big and fat? For that matter, since when did calling it ‘big fat’ become a status symbol? Surely if one were to be called big and fat, it would be taken as an insult. But apparently it is different with weddings. I heard that invitations are going out asking the guests to attend ‘my big fat wedding.’ So it is now official that being loud and ostentatious is to be ‘with it.’ Come to think  of it, birthdays and even festivals have become big and fat. While there are other factors like the paraphernalia that go into celebrating these, the lavish menu, the  decorations and the venue, the common denominator in all this is the GIFT. (Read about Designer Diwali here.)

Leave alone weddings, even birthday parties have become big and fat, and once again, gifts take the major blame.

A couple of generations ago, there were no birthday parties, except on the first birthday of the child, which would be a family affair with religious rituals and havan. Ear piercing was one of the rituals followed in many families. What little we got to see of a birthday party was usually in movies where the rich boy or girl would throw a lavish party with piano, cake, sometimes champagne, and dancing. There would be the scene of the poor son/daughter of the maid/cook looking longingly at the celebrations, banished from sight, even humiliated and forced to work.

When we were children, a new dress on our birthdays was not mandatory, at least in middle and lower middle class families; some sweet would usually be made at home, and we would go to the temple to pray for our longevity and health. Of course, we would touch elders’ feet and sometimes were rewarded with a coin or two. By the time the Brats came along, birthday parties had come into vogue. But they were still small do’s, celebrated with neighbours and friends, where the kids had a good time with games and eats. Gifts were usually small, sometimes a handmade greeting card, at other times some board game or a book. Some children didn’t bring anything and no one looked askance at them. Suffice that the child had come and joined the fun.  Return gifts were unknown. Even when they made their appearance later, they used to be simple ones like a pencil box or a bar of chocolate.

Soon, however, the gifts began getting costlier and bigger, in keeping with the status of the giver and the taker. That made it necessary for the return gifts to become fancier. It soon spiraled out of control. Parties were organised in restaurants and fast food places or one of the star hotels, for the ‘sake of convenience’. Gifts were lavish and often  included anything from an iphone to other expensive electronic gizmos and designer wear. When parents were invited along, booze flowed too. Theme parties and designer cakes and designer gifts became the order of the day, with every parent trying to outdo the other to prove their love for their kids. If parents baulked at the expenses, the kids sulked, making them feel guilty and rush to comply with their children’s wishes.

Coming back to Indian weddings, if you say that Indian weddings had always been big and fat, you are only partially right. Yes, they were long drawn out, often went on for several days, but the customs had many sociological and other aspects to them.  But over time, the customs have either become redundant or grating but are still continued in the name of tradition and in the most ostentatious manner. (The customs associated with weddings deserve a special post).

Traditionally it has been the girl’s family that has hosted the wedding. (God knows it is time to change that custom!) The reason for this was that in olden days, girls were married off very young and they were not educated or independent and so needed another family to take care of them. (I am by no means condoning the custom but am just stating the facts.) So, jewellery and even money was given when she was sent away to her in-laws’ home. For this reason too,  the boy’s family was treated like royalty and with deference. A set of customs grew around the welcoming and honouring the groom’s family, with gifts thrown in for good measure for the entire party.

Soon, this custom became one of wangling things out of the bride’s family. Of course, the groom’s party usually behaved like royalty and in the most obnoxious manner to boot. We have seen umpteen movies, where the villainous parents of the groom humiliate and even call off the wedding for want of a few grams of gold. It is sad that this still continues in subtle ways in the form of ‘gifts’, which are either expected or demanded.

Gifts in weddings not only include those given to the baratis by the bride’s family, but also those given to their own relatives. Not to be left behind, the groom’s family splurges in gifting too. It would still be fine had not the gifts become more a show of status than of love and blessings.

In Tamil Nadu, it is called ‘asirvadam‘ or moi, which is recorded verbally by the officiating priest as they are given. Perhaps this is the reason why the gifts became louder and larger – everyone wanted others to know that they had given a big enough gift. Conversely those who had given smaller gifts felt embarrassed and tried to do better in the next wedding they were invited to. The gift was no more than something that helped out the families conducting the wedding, but has today become a grand gesture for all to see and snicker/appreciate/envy as the case may be. Here was one more well-meaning custom gone awry. When the custom had been instituted by our forebears, they surely must not have anticipated such a degeneration of their society where vanity comes above everything else. While I was browsing the net, I came across this site, which takes the whole procedure to a new level.

Earlier, weddings that were conducted in villages were essentially community affairs, where the extended family helped physically and in kind to reduce the burden on the family – the girls’ family, that is. The invitations were personally delivered to the guests and when they came, they brought a token amount as ‘sagan’ or blessings. The guests were fed a sumptuous feast and then tamboolam (a bag containing coconut, betel leaves, haldi, kumkum and sweets) was given as they left. Even when the weddings moved to cities, it still meant that the extended family came over for a period of time, took part in preparations and contributed their mite to their relatives. The underlying factor being a sense of community.

Soon, the tamboolam itself began assuming vain forms as some began adding blouse pieces or token gifts to the packet. Soon, this also became the return gift at a wedding. And with every guest being given a return gift, there came the system of grading. The grander the gift, the grander the return gift.

I remember attending one wedding where I was pressed into service to distribute this packets as guests were leaving the hall. I was amused and confused when I was shown two sets of tamboolam packets, one with a costlier gift and  the other the normal one. The other lady who was doing duty with me, and I were instructed to give it discretely with the bride’s mother or her husband signalling to us, as to which pile we were to give them from. I found the task so distasteful that I cried off after a while.

To sum up, gifting has now become a crazy game of catch-me-if-you-can, where the sentiment behind the gift is lost in the competition to show off. Weren’t gifts supposed to be something to be selected lovingly, given with a lot of love and cherished? I remember a post by Bhavia on the gifts she made for her loved ones with her own hands. If I remember the post about it after so long, how cherished those gifts must be?

If the younger generation is taking the lead in making weddings bigger and fatter and being proud of it, are there any chances of their ever becoming slimmer?  Or would the material value of gifts continue going through the sky, even as they become more impersonal?

Homepage image courtesy: slava-slavik.com

 

120 comments

  1. Hi Cybermaa!
    I had written this fairly recently http://www.womensweb.in/2015/06/weddings-small-big/ and wanted to share it with you since you are one of those bloggers I am looking upto and whose thoughts I am loving 🙂 I completely agree on every word you said. As one of the younger generation I am trying hard ( trust me..very hard) to slim it down and keep it to what is important and my hope is many take a stand and do it as well instead of putting the blame on the parents or society (or just to show off!) for having big fat weddings.

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    1. i liked the fact that you have commented on the link in my Diwali post 🙂 I will read yours and give you feedback on it. And thanks for reading and liking my posts. I find it hard to digest that young people go along with the big fat weddings and blame it on the elders, when they have their say in every other thing!!

      Read and posted comment on your post.

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  2. I don’t know much about Indian weddings so it was interesting to read your opinions. Gifting seems to have become a crazy game in most societies, though.

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    1. Thanks for appreciating the post, Otto. With increasing levels of affluence, money seems to be losing its value, both in real terms as well as in terms of the joy it can give people.

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  3. Every word is bang on! It’s becoming more and more awkward to attend weddings or birthday parties for this very reason. The vain show doesn’t even with gifting one another grandly and taking back an even grander gift. It paves way for more bitching after the event. To discuss who got what and who got left out and how the gift was bad in taste and such like…yipes!
    I wonder why the current generation does not have a spine in the back and stand up against spending the parent’s money for such extravaganza. If the money is coming from the bride and groom’s pocket and there is such a show, then it is a different story, although why one should invest so much in a vanity show is beyond my reasoning.
    Lovely post, Zephyr!

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    1. I have heard that girls often demand a lavish wedding so that they could remember the day! And likewise, some boys also consider it a status symbol to have a grand baraat and extravagant gifts to the baraatis. You are right, the pinch would be felt only when they both spend out of their pockets 😀

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  4. I am the last to comment..

    These celebrations have become social status symbols, boosting the self esteem of the givers, and grating to the onlookers. They are also becoming more impersonal,people grouping together as they like and going about the business of sitting for a few minutes , then strolling g off to bar/dining rooms. In my neighbourhood , we have a phenomenon who has lavish, noisy and tiresome celebrations, showing off to the entire locality. I wonder how many people will be cursing them !

    Once , a friend was describing an elaborate and super rich wedding celebrations, which had the crowing moments of gifting the guests with gold coins!

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    1. I know about these neighbourhood show offs. I have seen many who consider it a status symbol to be invitees at such do’s too. It puts one off majorly. I loved your observation about how these celebrations are becoming impersonal. That is what happens when we have ‘managers’ taking care of things. And these managers are needed because the events are so elaborate. So it is a cycle. And do you know, the argument in favour of these managers is, ‘You are free to enjoy the celebrations without worrying about the arrangements.’ Gold coins? I have heard of gifts of cars to super special invitees!

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      1. Cars oh…oh.. 🙂

        //many who consider it a status symbol to be invitees at such do’s //

        This is what encourages them, the attendees and admirers to such ‘do’s are equally responsible for such social eyesores.

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  5. Zephyr, you are so right!
    While I have always wanted a grand wedding interms of the little rituals being followed (I love those games the groom and bride play, the little beautiful customs), I had never wanted a wedding where everything boiled down to lavish splurging unnecessary to say the least.
    A couple of months back, one of ’em told me this: “You know weh ad been to thsi wedding in Rajasthan. And you know what the wedding favours for remooooooootely distant guests was – a silver coin! Imagine! They spent so much, we all stayed in a palace and the wedding was …. I don’t have the words to say it!”

    I felt sad and at a total loss of words. Whatever happened to “the bride was looking so cute. You should have seen them secretly whispering to each other. Such lovely kheer. They make a happy pair.”

    All I heard about the wedding was the favour and the palace. I wish I can get to hear more about the bride and the groom and their happy faces the next time. Or maybe the beautiful milestones.

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    1. That is very sad, isn’t it? I mean, as a bride, I would love to be remembered as the heroine of the show, not the favours and the decorations or even the lodgings! Radha mentioned about someone booking all the AC coaches of a train and someone else talked about mobile phones and DVD players along with the invitation. It is getting more of a show of wealth than a happy occasion where one’s near and dear ones came together to wish the couple and have loads of fun. Having fun need not be an expensive affair, need it?

      In our days the games the bride and groom played used to be fun, but today where the couple have known each other and been going out for a while, find it boring and childish 😦 Glad to know someone of this generation enjoying all that!

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  6. I am the last one to comment on this one…reasons, I already told you 🙂 the first gift I remember as a kid was a scrabble board in my 6th grade and in the following years to come just pens and greeting cards. We celebrated both our kids’ first birthdays dhoom dhaam se. Now, Rushi will be turning 10 soon, he wants a bang bang party…with dj, music and all as he has seen it for many bday parties…:(..and the return gifts…they have become a pain in the ….big fat weddings……huhh….

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    1. I am wondering if this is the original comment you had typed and which vanished! Peer pressure is something not only children, but also adults have to withstand. How well they are able to weather the criticisms depends upon their individual strengths. But often compromises are made. Hope Rushi understands when you make them too. I am sure he will if you explain things to him.

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  7. Planning up something simple and elegant is fine, but these things are all commercialised today. Every little thing . And as you rightly said they have all become status symbols. I would definitely not want the whole world to know what I can afford to, by a wedding, definitely not.

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    1. The very fact that these occasions are entrusted to commercial outfits takes out the fun of the entire thing. For those who ask me, ‘But who had the energy to do it all?’ I would like to ask, ‘Then why do you plan a grand event?’ Keep it simple and heartfelt and then you can do it yourself, right? the worst part of the whole thing is the return gifts, which are commensurate with the gift given 😦

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  8. How true! Now celebrations look more like a race to outdo or to ‘differentiate’ from the previous one. Now with a gamut of industry built around these celebrations, I am afraid if the society will ever fallback to simpler celebrations and the ones who do will always be in minority and probably looked down upon.

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    1. Oh yes, the big industries like the catering companies of the south, the tent/decorators who also undertake catering in the north, the banquet halls and the band/ghodiwalas….are all flourishing and coming up with more outrageous offers than ever before. I would certainly love to be in the minority and brave being looked down upon too 🙂

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  9. Someone just mentioned they received a ‘mobile phone’ and ‘DVD player’ as ‘Invitation Gifts’ from some people who were getting married!!! I couldn’t believe it. I’ve heard of wedding gifts, birthday gifts and even return gifts. But Invitation gifts?! Gosh! We surpass expectations, don’t we!!

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    1. Celebrations have stopped being anything but the mad race to show off one’s wealth. Where is the joy of everyone curling up on on the carpet after being exhausted yakking with each other during weddings, as Anuradha has wistfully pointed out in her comment? Today we need our comfort and our privacy, please! A mobile phone? Wow! wish I had been an invitee 😀

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  10. The Fool · · Reply

    So true. Another point my mom would have agreed with you. It was her dream to get me married in a temple without spending a penny. But then she had to give up the idea in the haste to see me married while she still lived as tradional girl’s parents don’t appreciate this kind of radical ideas.

    And talking of gifts, I usually end up giving nothing at my close friends’ wedding. I guess they are also happy that I came at all spending money on travel, taking vacation etc.

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    1. I can understand your mother’s dilemma and need to compromise. There is another angle to this too, Karthik. When the groom’s side says no to any kind of extravagance, the bride’s side is unconcerned and goes right ahead and spends the money. The groom’s party is treated shabbily because ‘they didn’t want anything’! I have seen this happen so often. You are perfectly right about your presence being gift enough.

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  11. Quite in line with everything else in Society, isn’t it Zephyr? Time was when we valued people for what they did – teacher, doctor, whatever. Now we value them for what they have. Time was when a dowry was given in a way as a form of handing over the daughter’s inheritance – since the sons were considered the heirs otherwise. Now it is not merely assumed to be the right of the boy’s side to demand but also a social status symbol. Time was we gifted to people to show our love for them and they received the gifts in the same spirit. Now it is a game of oneupmanship.

    I have this habit of belaboring my own point everywhere – that as long as we define success exclusively in terms of how much money a person possesses and, further, develop a contempt for the so-called ‘losers’, this have-money-will-flaunt culture is never going to go away. After all, we cannot be distributing an audited statement of our net worth in lieu of our visiting cards, so how else do we let others know how successful we are?

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    1. Even today, when we have laws that stipulate that all children of both sexes, have equal share in ancestral property, we don’t find it being implemented. An acquaintance, who owns a house worth tens of crores has set aside a crore to be spent on his daughter’s wedding — which will be all she is going to get, while her brother will inherit the house and other property. A big fat wedding is another way of cheating the girl out of her rightful share of property. Today the yardstick to measure the success of a person is money and of course perceived popularity by whatever means, the latter meaning that the person is also wealthy 🙂 You are right. We do need to flaunt success and the easiest way is to show off our wealth, right?

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  12. Anonymous · · Reply

    My sister’s wedding was cancelled as we realised that we could not meet the “boys’ side” demands for how the wedding has to be conducted. The demands were justified as apparently its the only son’s wedding and so it has to reflect that. Unfortunately, my sister is labelled as being “money-minded” as she refused to put up with such extravagance!

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    1. It is very sad that such things need to happen. I am glad that your sister stood up to the pressure and chose to say no.

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  13. /I would have/ no no, I have had 🙂

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  14. Isn’t it unfortunate that parents must now go to McDonald’s and ask them to arrange a party for their son’s 12th birthday, invite 50 kids and their parents, and feed them all the unhealthiest of snacks?

    The birthday celebrations I would have in my childhood will always stay close to heart. Mom would bake me a cake, make fruit custard at home, and I would enjoy that with my immediate family members.

    My wife and I don’t have a kid yet, but we shudder at the thought of organizing all those extravagant parties!

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    1. In our days, the celebrations were even more simple as I have described. Some people justify it as being done to make up for what they themselves lacked as kids. When would we begin to evaluate things and people without giving it all a materialistic colour? I am sure when parents do things in a creative and imaginative way, it will turn out quite well.

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  15. With Asian weddings, here in the UK, they are like stepping stones. So one sees and observes a wedding, replicates it with better and additional ideas, then some replicates that one with another bigger wedding and so the trend continues.

    Take for example a car, the idea is that you start off in a small car, gain the experiences and when the time is right both financially and experiences wise – you then purchase something bigger, bigger engine with a little more power and that increases the prices too and so the trend continues.

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    1. But that is the same here too, BAB! Only unlike there, here those aping the pomp are all not equally wealthy, thereby making them impoverished. I wouldn’t also agree about the car analogy — one buys a bigger car not only for the status, but for other reasons too — like a bigger family or to take care of road travels with family that might work out costlier by other modes. But yes, I agree that they trend keeps spiralling upwards.

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  16. “What will people say” if I don’t do it in this and this manner? If he has done it in this way, “I need to do it” in this way too … in these questions lie the roots and thereon starts a cycle of blindly following the herd which is so very beautifully explained by you.

    The biggest gift in today’s life, I feel, is the gift of a smile… If giving lovingly, it has the power to touch two souls and it’s also one thing that comes absolutely free 🙂

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    1. We are great at following the herd in everything, including not standing up for something 😦 We should bring back the good in olden day weddings, especially the gifts. The days when the groom had the upper hand is vanishing fast with both the boy and girl equally qualified and often finding their own matches too. And the best gift is a smile. Well said 🙂

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  17. Hi zephyr

    It was like reading about things I am well familiar with esp the return gift, thamboolam gift etc…When I had a birthday party for my son (Yes, Yours truly equally guilty 🙂 ) there were kids who walked in demanding their welcome gift…Now a welcome goody bag and a return gift is the norm here! And, about the gifts demanded by the groom’s side tell me about it ‘ Who is going to enjoy all of it? Its the girl and her husband after all ‘ is the justification people give…..Hmm!!! I saw a debate on TV recently where college going students were talking abt buying gifts worth 5000, 7000 for their friends from their pocket money!

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    1. A welcome gift too? I think the day is not far off when they might ask for a gift with the invite! It is already the norm for weddings. I know of an NRI guy who asked his relatives in India to give some silver items along with the invites, but later found that they had not been given to the invitees but were quietly kept by the relative! Truly such lavish weddings bring out the worst in people, I guess. Today, even if the groom’s side doesn’t demand it, the bride’s party insists on it saying it befits their status 😦

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      1. Forget the groom and the bride sides Zephyr…I have met so many people whose first question abt any marriage would be ‘Evalo poun(how many sovereigns) ‘ ! Sad!…Gift with the invite? The world is going crazy!

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        1. Crazy? It has gone beyond that stage!

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        2. This ‘evolo poun’ has surpassed all other nonsensical practices we have in our society, in spite of steep increase in gold prices. That’s because families are hoarding gold and not putting them to any useful purpose. The govt. is struggling to get at least some gold outside, for productive purposes.

          Destination Infinity

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  18. Your topic selection is as always impeccable, Zephyr. Another superb post.

    I looked up the etymology of “gift.” Apparently, it comes from an Old Norse word for ‘good luck.’ And by the time the Anglo Saxons started using the word later, it came to mean “price of the bride.” Looks like the switch from the meaning of gift as a genuine expression of love and good wishes to some sort of a dowry happened a while back! Interesting. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=gift

    I’m kind of cool with the concept of gifting at weddings. It’s a great way for a close group of friends and family members to help out a young couple with some practical necessities as they start their new household. Of course, if it goes into the realm of accepting gifts from relative strangers and bragging, etc, it loses the whole point, as you’ve pointed out.

    Sudha and I received a signed copy of “Parthiban Kanavu” by the famous (and superb) Tamil writer Kalki – from Smt. MS Subbulakshmi and Sri. Sadasivam (her husband) at our wedding. It’s a gift that’s been treasured over the nearly two decades we’ve been married.

    At times, gifts evoke the best in us. Most of the time, they seem to be a chore. This is a good reminder to maintain perspective.

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    1. Oh Srini, what would my posts amount to without such reader participation? Thank you for the valuable info and link. Not only words, but customs and rituals have also undergone so much change that one can pass off anything as ‘custom’ and tradition today! Look at all the various customs that have got added to our weddings over the ages and in the recent past. I agree about close relatives and friends giving the couple stuff they need, which is usually done after consulting them. Such relatives don’t even expect a ‘return gift’ commensurate with the gift they are giving, making it a kind of competition to do one better. You have summed it perfectly — maintain perspective.

      Wow! you got an autographed copy of Pathiban kanavu by Kalki? I remember devouring this tome when I was in college and loving every bit! Please remember to show me me the precious copy when we meet 🙂

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      1. The book was signed by Smt MS Subbulakshmi and Sri Sadasivam, not by Kalki himself. They were all giants of an era gone by. Will definitely show it to you when we meet! And yes, what an amazing writer Kalki was. Ponniyin Selvan, Parthiban Kanavu.. etc etc. amazing novels.

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        1. My awe has not reduced a whit at this piece of info, for MSS and Shri.Sadasivam are giants too and to have such stalwarts are close friends, not to speak of GNB Sr. as a close relative, you and Sudha are blessed, Srini 🙂

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  19. Well, I am reading this blog at a time when the marriage season is in full swing. Next week I have to attend one and really don’t know what to gift the bride. It shouldn’t be too small…too big…too ostentatious…too ordinary….well, the debate is endless and bogging. I think in the final analysis the best gift should be our presence in the ceremony. However, the social benchmarks are different…

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    1. If friends don’t start or continue with personalised gifts, who will? So go ahead and give a personalised gift. I am sure the thought and care behind the selection would be most appreciated. But as you and others have pointed out, your presence at the function should be gift enough 🙂 Trying to meet the social benchmarks can be tough and sometimes impossible 😦

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  20. There really should not be a complain for ” Big” celebrations.
    There was a time when “Rich” a dirty word in India…not any more.
    Generations have prospered and have extra disposable income.
    Lets enjoy every moment of happiness and celebrations

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    1. Do you really think that a big celebration is a happy one? If it is a rich person, at least he can afford it. But when a poor one tries to ape that standard, isn’t he going to suffer the consequences? How can the son/daughter be happy knowing their family is likely to go bankrupt?

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  21. Zephyr I submitted the comment only the first line has come rest has vanished. The malaise is deep rooted and the money power has compounded the issue further to no return point. This is actually pushing the have not’s to the extreme where they stretch themselves beyond there sustainance limit to fulfill things under the garb of rituals and standing in the society. This is atrocious. The haves will anyway splurge and show off their wealth(stinking). Recently my friend attended one wedding where a whole train A/c was booked for barathis from Akola to Gwalior. Even for the railways this was the first instance they called them to come after one month for booking. Heard about chartered flight but not of this kind. A train was booked indeed! In my opinion such expenses needs to be taxed beyond some limit. Will our FM devise some new tax laws? to curb such blatant extravaganza. The present generation seems to understand this paradox and is putting its foot down wherever it can. Hopefully the attitude of this generation will act as game changer.
    PS. I have two sons will try to be frugal as much as possible.

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    1. What next? I mean, booking a whole train for the baratis? The poor parents of girls, even if they were indeed rich enough to do host so many of them! I am sure these things are done to have people talk about how so and so had spent so much money on the wedding of their son/daughter. It is a good idea to tax these expenditure. Have a mini raid by the IT dept to find the source of income. Amen to the wish that this generation is able to bring about a change, but then, this one is also inviting people to its ‘big fat weddings!’ 😦

      I am sure you will be able to bring about a change with the weddings of your sons, Radha.

      I am sorry about WP swallowing your comment. Thanks for reposting it.

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  22. Well written post Zephyr !

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  23. Couldn’t agree more. I am always amazed to see the way people are blowing up money at birthdays, weddings, festivals and on gifts – many a times, just to show off. 😦

    We had a traditional South Indian wedding with all the fanfare, but did stick to our means and ensured that every item was checked by us, and was within our budget.

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    1. that is the best thing. Stick to the budget regardless of what is expected or what is deemed ‘the standard.’ That way, one can have a gopd time even while not burning good money. But we are a society of show offs and can’t resist creating a bash.

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  24. Another perspective is that of cheap gifts. While I am not in favor of splurging on expensive gifts, I also don’t like it when people gift cheap or useless things trying to pass them off as expensive! Gifts are supposed to be a token of affection, not something that is mandatory as it has become now. Saris are apparently supposed to be gifted on occasions of weddings, but the purpose of picking a nice sari is gone when the gifters decide to pick up or pass along the cheapest possible sari that they would never use themselves. Infact, these cheap gifts are a further waste of money since noone uses them. I ld much rather not give anything at all but good wishes or something small that was lovingly bought and not just passed on because it was uesless. In youngsters I think, there is a better sense of gifting than the previous generation. Most friends contribute small amounts to buy something nice and be remembered by.

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    1. Couldn’t agree more with this.

      I still pick out gifts personally for people, and am disappointed when I see people giving cheap gifts, which they would never use themselves. I think it is better to go to a party empty-handed rather than give them an obviously cheap gift, which has been given just for the sake of giving one.

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    2. That is the problem when one has to conform to expectations and do the needful in terms of gifts. ‘It is the custom,’ they say and end up giving either meaningless gifts or expensive stuff to prevent people criticising their choice of gift. A collective gift often works when one wants to give a meaningful gift.

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  25. lovely post, Zephyr! i love weddings, esp family ones where the whole extended family gets together… and considering the size of our family, that is a huge number! its a wonderful time to catch up, to interact, to reminisce, and to hear our parents’ memories… have some wonderful memories of huge weddings.. but like you said, its the pomp and show that spoils it all… from a time when we all sprawled out on one huge ‘jamakalam’ in the hall to people wanting separate rooms these days, from a memory of an uncle i have who used to always give only 1 rupee as asirvadham to people bringing huge gifts and hurrying to have their name announced, from the simple tamboolam that used to be given, to the sarees which get compared the minute they are handed over…. things seem to have just got worse! my wedding was an elaborate affair too, and when people didnt follow the ‘no gifts please’ rule mentioned below the card, my father in law simply collected all the money and handed it over then and there to a priest from the kanchi mutt who was there to oversee the rituals. that earned him our respect, and also shocked glares from the rest of the crowd… an incident which no one has forgotten in the last 10 years!!! since then, my closest family members have learnt their lesson and do not bring gifts to any occasions in our family. they either give me whatever they want to, whenever we meet next! it has at least stopped the show of gifting! but some people refuse to learn!

    as to the situation improving with the youth, i dont really know…. maybe teenagers today are a bit more aware, and would prefer simpler weddings, but going by the kind of pomp and show at birthdays, i wonder what these kids are going to grow up into. i just attended a bday part last week, samhith’s school friend, all of 9 years,,, had his bday at thane. i thought maybe they had relatives there, but it turned out that the kid wanted his bday on a terrace of a hotel…. which had a pool!! they couldnt find one in ghatkopar or chembur, and the only available one was in thane, and it was also the most expensive hall in the area!!! to top it all, the party was late in the evening, and with the unusual mumbai chill, none of the kids were even interested in going anywhere near the water… so it was just a usual party…except it had a popular (read that as someone who has appeared on TV) magician, who even performed the cut off your head magic!!! in front of impressionable 9 year olds!!! i was practically banging my head on every available wall by the time the cake was cut around 9:45PM and we could eat and leave! our half an hour cab journey back home post 10PM was obviously filled with conversation about such bday parties… while samhith agrees that such parties are unnecessary and extravagant, i wonder if he will be able to resist the next invite. or hold out against all the comparisons!

    and, on second thoughts, i should probably have written a post instead of leaving such a long comment 😀

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    1. That was a very interesting comment, even if it was long. The incidents quoted make for good examples of how one can act as a change maker if one wants to. Each one can act in the way he or she deems fit, if it will reduce the pomp and extravagance. As I have said, there are as many young people who want pomp and show as there are those who shun it. The birthday bash was the limit. I couldn’t help smiling away imagining you finding walls to bang your head on 😀 It is indeed hard to make children understand why they can’t have something the whole world and and their aunt is having. We should write about instances like your FIL’s and such so that the positives will outweigh the negative sometime in the near future.

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  26. The kind of money that gets pumped in to make it a memorable day for the bride/groom is mind blowing! I prefer to take bouquets with a hand-written greeting card for such weddings. as i am completely against this ostentatious display of wealth to be honest…

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    1. If you ask me frankly, I think it is more for the society than for the bride and groom. Because when it comes to remembering things, it is not the decorations or the crowds or even the menu, but the simple things like a hug from an old relative or the presence of a dear long lost friend, that stays in the mind of the bride and groom. This too will change, albeit slowly.

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  27. Its an irony that everybody feels marriages to be simple affair but it turns out to be a glittering show of pomp & show and even our new gen children do not mind , never believe in simple affair!

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    1. One of the culprits for this trend is also the video coverage and with Sooraj Barjatya’s movies still fresh in mind, all want to be part of the show 😀

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  28. It is very very sad this ostentatious behavior in gifting, planning weddings and other celebrations. Things just keep getting bigger, louder and more expensive. And then these precedents become societal norms.

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    1. You have nailed it Rachna. What some people start and some others follow soon becomes the norm and the custom. So it is a never ending spiral. Only if we didn’t pay so much attention to what the society is going to say 😦

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      1. If only :(. But then one has to stand up and practice what they say they believe in. How many of us can do that with our please all nature. I am not getting any of your notifications now, no new blog post alert or comment answer alert :(. I tried to resubscribe via email but it says I am already subscribed. Can you check what happened?

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        1. People are trying to stand up and say no. But we should help them along by both refusing at least the return gifts and giving only what we can afford to regardless of the reactions. As for the subscription, why don’t you unsubscribe and then subscribe again? Actually something seems to be wrong with mail notifications as I am getting mail notifications of comments that had come yesterday and have replied too!

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          1. I started getting the notifications of comment replies now *scratches head* 🙂

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  29. Zephyr we are going down-hill very fast.Now the ostentation starts with the invitation card itself.Not only is it costly,heavy& glitzy;it is also accompanied by dry fruits or sweets–in pricey boxes.Naturally if someone has to beat it s/he will have to devise new ways of splurging money–like sending air fares,chartered air crafts or God knows what.
    It is a moot question whether this money is hard earned or of dubious origin.

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    1. Oh yes, Indu, those kind of gifts are way too much for me to have even imagined 😀 I had heard of one wedding where the guests were provided with villas in a resort and they in their turn gifted cars and flats to the couple!

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  30. Good points, Zephyr! I keep hearing from my other friends too that the weddings are getting bigger and fatter day by day…..

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    1. They are indeed, Giri. But from the comments, I hear that the brigade trying to downsize is also growing. Let us hope they do faster than the ones propagating the big fat celebrations.

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  31. Tamil nadu weddings are becoming expensive day by day. We need the Air conditioned chowltry. Then a good caterer. Even a middle class wedding costs around 13-14 lakhs minimum, this amount is exclusive of jewellery and sarees. A relative of mine was never buying any jewellery for herself when the gold chit (Every month we pay a certain amount to the jewellers and after 12-15 months we can buy jewellery for the amount accumulated plus some extra amount plus a gift for a months amount!) matured. It was always reserved for her daughter’s wedding. Now the wedding is over and again she has started collecting gold coins for her grand child….I don’t think she will ever buy anything for herself.
    Another relative, a young girl told me as soon as she delivered a girl ‘I have to start a gold chit in this baby’s name from next month!’.

    Nowadays, more than conducting a wedding or any function, buying gifts/return gifts has become a big headache. As you said this custom was not there even 10-15 years back. And giving contract to a wedding caterer also was not there. All relatives used to help in many ways during the wedding. Now, nobody is prepared to take care of the kitchen or buying vegetables or provisions for the wedding kitchen. Everything goes into contract!

    Most of the gifts become useless most of the time. The money for buying the gifts goes down the drain. Because the people who give them don’t give a second thought like you said or the people who receive them do not need them!

    It is just ego everywhere!

    Thank god, my mother’s side do not spend this much for a wedding. Only some family do baaraath/sangeeth, the previous evening. Most of the time we cousins sing and the small children sing and dance. The next day morning rituals start and after lunch, the wedding is over. No return gifts. Gifts are given to the couple when they come to the relatives’ house for lunch or dinner! The boy’s side do not ask ‘how much gold do you give to your daughter?’ My cousins’ children got married recently in a very very simple way. Everybody, the couple, the parents…were happy all the time. Only thing is, we should never miss attending any wedding at any cost, otherwise it becomes a black mark on us.

    Sorry, this looks like a post, Zephyr! I was carried away!

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    1. I like post-length comments, Sandhya. Feel free to write what you want here.

      You have rightly pointed out that gifts and return gifts have become a big headache. There is nothing one can think of buying for people that they might not already have or appreciate. So we sometimes end up giving cash. Gifts get duplicated and triplicated sometimes. And then they are recycled and thereby hangs a tale. I can understand about your relative buying gold all her life without getting to wear any of it. Today too, girls hardly wear gold, yet one is expected to give them jewellery. At the cost of becoming unpopular, some people have started taking a stand and sticking to it. May their tribe increase. The kind of wedding celebrations you have described sounds so lovely. I am sure there is a lot of joy and little tension in such functions.

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  32. It’s only in India, we make such a public spectacle of such private moments. Weddings are more about making a statement and less about the couple. Thankfully, there are a handful who still prefer low-key celebrations.

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    1. I wouldn’t entirely agree with this, Purba. Remember ‘The father of the Bride?’ Wedding planners and event management of the wedding came from the west and our big fat spenders simply latched on to the idea and went on to make them even more lavish. Yes, good sense is prevailing among many these days to go for low-key affairs with emphasis on the joy of the occasion more than the show.

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  33. The showbiz is becoming a trend, starting from B’day parties ,New year eves , any festival or Wedding celebrations.We need to learn to value people not the wealth(gifts) they have ,or they are going to spend or bring along with them…People will talk about the lavishness of a certain event for a few days and forget about it ..We need to ponder whether our relations with family,spouse,friends and acquaintances are so lavish and rich or not …A balanced approach and thinking is all that is required…

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    1. As I pointed out in another reply, the whole exercise takes not only a toll on the finances but also the health of the families, with the result that the girl goes on her honeymoon worrying about her father/mother’s health which had taken a downturn at the end of the festivities. And do you know something? The collective sigh of relief is not for the wedding going off happily, but when the guests/relatives are all satisfied with the honour and gifts received therein and so give a chit of approval for the same.

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  34. Zephyr,
    We live in a world where we boost our egos by showing-off our wealth. Even if a person is capable of saving some money, we give in to the whims of the society. I think the amount of money people spend on weddings can be gifted to the couple. They can use it with a loan amount to buy a house. Isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day – a house to call our own? Imagine the great financial help that will be for the newly weds.

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    1. Perfectly said, Amit, about gifting the couple the money saved. This should be done by both the parents, meaning that the expenses need to be shared by both. Only here too, the rich and powerful not only splurge on the wedding but also gift a flat/house. So the others are panting to fulfill THAT too 😦

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  35. One of the reasons I am terrified of being a parent in today’s age and time is because I am wondering how on earth do I to teach kids the right things? To tell them to maintain a balance and tread the fine line for everything instead of going to extremes? 😐 It’s scary. Things were so much simpler when we were kids. And far more simple when you were a kid, I m sure.

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    1. It is enough if you are able to teach the children to have a sense of proportion in everything. Only when one tries to impress with wealth does it go overboard. The wedding ‘return gift’ need not be something ostentatious. Earlier, family and close friends were given new clothes for the reasons I mentioned in the post. Today, the value is inspected while receiving it. Many a time, these gifts are recycled too.

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  36. Very well written! Weddings and birthday parties these days have become very lavish. It is still okay for people who can afford it and what is sad even people who cannot afford such extravagant celebrations follow suit.

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    1. I don’t agree that it is ok for people who can afford it. They are the ones who begin setting the bar high for gifting and celebrating. The me-too culture makes the others try to follow suit. We should first stop judging someone by the scale of the celebrations. One need not spend money to have fun. A close group of family and friends can sing and dance and enjoy the day. Is it necessary to do it in a lavish way? Does it increase the enjoyment if it is done that way?

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      1. I do not approve of lavish celebration by the rich either, what I wanted to stress on was even the ones who cannot afford fall prey to the show-off custom!

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  37. I’m happy that my family still sticks to simple living and simpler weddings.Somehow people around me are also not that extravagant or showing off.

    But the only case I remember still pricks me badly.One of our lower class neighbor made a huge wedding plan for her daughter.He worked as a street tea maker and our jaw dropped when we saw her daughter covered in gold for the wedding.He made the wedding run for three days and by the end of the month people started coming to his home asking back their money.They pawned their house,his wife started working as a maid and his sons dropped out to make money.

    I still don’t why he did so?The people know his financial ability and nobody is going to question him if he had done a simple wedding.Now he is toiling to return the money with interest.

    Another thing I have noticed in my office is that unless the greeting card is enormously big,people think that the expected standard is not met.So everybody buys big cards,big show pieces, etc

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    1. I am glad that you are surrounded by people who believe in simplicity. It makes a lot of difference to the way one thinks. It is a sad commentary of the customs gone awry when the poor try to break their backs to throw a lavish ceremony. I am appalled that the youngsters today are demanding that it be done so instead of putting their foot down. ‘What will people say?’ is at the back of everyone’s mind when they do this. There are countless people who are like this chaiwala who ruin their lives for the sake of one wedding or birthday bash.

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  38. Bigger, fatter weddings are quite probably a fallout of the consumerist revolution that has been sweeping India in the last decade and a half, whereby bigger is better and more the merrier. The only thing that commands respect in such an environment is money–and those who have it. Since there is no upper limit, people try to outdo themselves and keep pushing themselves to the limits, keep setting new benchmarks of unabashed display of wealth–all to catch a fleeting glimpse of admiration on the guests’ faces. They’re basically trying to buy all the ‘respect’ their money can buy. It is a toxic state of affairs for sure.

    The other day I was talking to this elderly lady in her seventies and she got reminiscing about her college days in Kolkata. She said the standard present for someone who was getting married used to be a book and a bunch of Rajnigandha sticks, and I was so struck by how lovely it would have been. I wish more people could appreciate the beauty of simplicity today.

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    1. It is indeed the fallout of the consumerist ‘revolution’ we are witnessing today. I can so relate to the lady’s reminiscence of days gone by, when a book or a spray of rajnigandha was valued as a gift. By going higher and higher in the scale of gifting, we are making the whole exercise one of pure materialistic value without any nobler sentiment. And often it is not admiration in the eyes of the onlookers but of envy, shame and resentment too. Do we need to pander to these emotions?

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  39. the same money spent on making any shaadi big and fat can be utilized effectively in other things .. but big and fat has become a social symbol .. a thing that gives an identity .. sad !

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    1. Exactly, Rahul! And yes, big, fat is a status symbol, to answer my own question 😦

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  40. Why berate wedding and birthdays alone..in Kerala the funerals have turned out the same way! They order food from the best caterer, music to make the event lively????

    I do hope the current generation moves away from such gaudy display of wealth. Yes birthdays used to be simple affairs..at home it was marked by my Mother’s cake and that was it. Though I do hold small parties just for the close frnds of my children. But they are simple affairs with home made food and lots of fun invented on the spot by the children.

    The weddings have been taken over by the event managers and the even the bride and groom and subjected to ridiculous acts. People attend these weddings only to taste the goodies and lavishly berate everything.

    I also wonder if such lavish display of wealth is an after shoot of ill gotten wealth.

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    1. :O Lively funerals!!! Then it is only a matter of time that event managers will take this up and bring even more “innovative ideas”

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    2. I was going to deal with ‘customs’ which have gone awry or lost their significance, in a later post. But yes, even funerals have become big and fat with all the song and dance. I read about a famous Bollywood personality arranging a rock band to enliven the mourners. Today it is the event managers or ‘caterers’ who call the shots in many Tambrahm weddings at least. They instruct the bride’s family as to what to do when and the right sequence of things among other things. So even if the family doesn’t want those things, they are forced to follow his instructions. I don’t agree about the ill-gotten wealth part, though. Bhavia’s comment illustrates the malaise that goes deep in our society and this cuts across religions.

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  41. In our community when the parents of the groom/ bride came to invite anyone, they were given gifts… usually a saree or a utensil which could be used either by the bride or the family. Now it is more of a show. thankfully the wedding gift is now passe. The cards read ‘presents in blessings only’.
    Now marrianges are three day ones. Traditions are less, fun is more. Sangeet where everyone has to dance, even if one does not like to. Mehendi where loud music deafens you and actually marriage ceremony is attended to only when the food is served.
    I have tried ot have a simple marriage and simple birthday parties for my son. Yes the 5th was a bit grand but no I did not get a MC, a cousin’s daughter hosted it. people may call us ‘kanjoos’ but I value my principles 🙂 I always try to give a good book and a handmade card or the max will be a dress

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    1. I remember you telling us about that event and saw the photos too. It is ok to be called a kanjoos if you stick to your principles. I agree that one has to take care of the guests who are old and travel all the way to grace an occasion. But going overboard with gifts to make a statement is where I would draw a line. As for no gifts request, it often doesn’t work. I have heard it said that the guests are forced to actually bring gifts by exhorting them not to. Talk of twisting a good thing into something negative! Many of the events in today’s wedding are inspired by Bollywood. I have heard from old ladies in the north, that women sang as they made preparations for the wedding, many weeks before the actual day. That became a Bollywood event soon enough 😀

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  42. Yes, unfortunately weddings are getting bigger and fatter! People whith money to burn are splurging on ostentatious celebrations, and those who cannot afford it are following suit so as to not be ‘left behind’.

    As for costly gifts at weddings- I think the solution is to not accept or give gifts at all. Many are now doing this. We did not accept /give gifts to guests at the weddings of either of our children- and it made things a lot easier. We did give gifts and accept gifts from our immediate family members, but did so in the privacy of our home with just us there. 🙂

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    1. We have the herd mentality and also the unfortunate habit of evaluating anything only by its material worth. Weddings and celebrations therefore are big affairs. I have seen many communities have a simple wedding, but even they are fast latching on to the bandwagon and throwing lavish parties afterwards. And Manju, I am not saying that it happens in all families, but didn’t you know that even family members can raise the bar of the gifting, forcing an upward spiral?

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  43. Ostentatious gifting is a norm in north India. And there is a distinct one-upmanship in the show off fest during Diwali, weddings and celebrations. I guess one has to learn to draw the line.

    While in Bangalore, I was so happy to see neighbors gifting simple diyas for Diwali….no crockery sets or dry fruit packs which keep doing the rounds here.

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    1. I would say that one has to be bold enough to draw the line, because if it is the first time something like this happening in a family or community, there are sure to be wagging tongues. And sadly, Alka, the south is not behind in this show-off culture. Remember, I am talking of Tamil weddings?

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  44. Well well written. In fact I had written a post on big fat Indian weddings a while back. Now with the exotic destination weddings and theme weddings, lavish has taken a new meaning altogether. Thankfully in our region, the wedding ceremony is not on the girls side by default. It is decided in a mutual discussion at the time of fixing the marriage(er, this sounds like match-fixing but I don’t know what other term to use here). There is also a concept of ‘yaadi mele shaadi’, where a tamboola exchange and a written declaration in front of elders is all that it takes for a marriage.

    As you rightly pointed out, the concept has spread to other festivals and celebrations now like Diwali and Birthdays. In fact now I see a few people celebrating 6-month birthday or a monthly birthday and each time in a hall with theme based cake decorations and return gifts 😛

    At my wedding I hope to make it a nice family gathering and fun time instead of a lavish affair and also flowers instead of rice for akshata( I don’t like to see food getting wasted) but how far will I be successful in making this wish a reality, lets see 🙂

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    1. If I’m right, you belong to the north Karnataka region, don’t you? Engagements in our state was also done by the elders, but that was when the matches were made by the elders. Today there is an engagement, but it can still be a small affair. And seriously, do they really have a monthly and 6 monthly birthdays? What next? I am sure you will be able to have a simple marriage if you so desire. I am sure, the elders will appreciate your wish. Do share the link to your post on fat weddings.

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      1. You guessed it right. I am from North-Karnataka region. Monthly and half-yearly birthdays have become a trend now. And this cannot be for kids. Those poor things don’t even know whats happening. They usually end up crying due to all that noise and stress.

        http://dreamysap.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/the-big-fat-indian-wedding/ is my post that I had written long time back. Now that I look back at it I realize there is a lot more to add to it.

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        1. Same thing with the big fat weddings too. The families are knackered and sometimes are too ill to even enjoy the proceedings, despite wedding planners taking over the management. Thanks for sharing the link. The post is good but as you say, could have more additions 🙂

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  45. A lot of things are happening in the name of customs and tradition, bent to the likes of a few elders. Spineless youngsters are contributing their part and making it even worser. I know people who spent a fortune on their kids marriage and are now not supported by the same kids. I hope knowledge of such incidents will make people stop selling their homes/taking a large loan to get their children married.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. People do have knowledge about these things, but still continue falling prey to pressure from peers and family. Only when they become bold enough to face the flak for being kanjoos as Bhagyashree put it, will things begin to change. And mind you, young people are going along with the trend and even encouraging the splurging. I have personally seen many families go bankrupt after getting their kids married off. Custom is the most abused word today in our society.

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  46. I have often recieved wedding cards that are like a booklet…one card for each ceremony! Then there was one that had a real silver coin embedded with the card! There are also the elaborate pandals and food stalls with world cuisine presented to you during the reception ceremony…I suppose after so much spending…it is expected from the guests to empty their pockets on big-fat gifts just to not feel out of place by being invited for such a grand affair…;)
    On the other end of the spectrum I have also attended a wedding where the only invitees were a bunch of office mates and friends…a friend had decided to get married in an Arya Samaj temple without any of the bigness and fatness added to it…It is definitely this wedding that I remember fondly and happily.
    Such a wonderful post Zephyr…you have put your finger on the right nerve…:)

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    1. LOL about the guests being made to cough up for hogging the gourmet meals 😀 I love the simplicity of Arya Samaj weddings too. They are dignified and small but with all the necessary rituals. Even a three day wedding is fine, so long as it is not fat, but celebrated with lots of joy and abandon by the family and friends. Unfortunately, these have been hijacked by Bollywood and we dance to its tunes today. We deride customs but happily bend those to suit our ostentatious impulses.

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  47. It is a mad rush Zephyr. Now my kid belongs to this generation and I have attended a barbie theme based birthday party complete with huge cutouts of the girl, her family and a proper anchor to handle the stage making people play games. I wondered what happened to simple cake cuttings and home celebrations.

    And weddings have crossed every barrier. It is most flourishing business in India (don’t know about the rest of the world.)

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    1. Oh theme parties are all the craze. Even those are fine, if the family and friends participated in the preparations, but the entire thing is left to event managers who direct the show. Where is spontaneity and as you ask, simple cake cutting and home celebrations? Weddings have indeed spawned a new breed of service providers of all hues.

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  48. I always believed that the purpose of being rich is to get others to believe that you are rich.

    One’s money/wealth is their own and nobody has any right to suggest how to spend it but at social events, the intention of spending it is to show others how wealthy/rich they are. Which not only puts others under pressure but also hampers their self esteem. Don’t we all decide gifts for someone based on what they had given to us on our birthdays/anniversaries/etc?

    My grandfather used to write poems and letters and words of advise as a gift on birthdays and special occasions. He used to tell me that even buying a greeting card is a waste of money and can be better utilized in so many ways! The best gift according to him would be a book, of course, with a hand written message in it.

    I still savor all the lovely things he had written for me from time to time. And when I think about the best gift (that comes in a box) I have ever received, I can only think of a night reading lamp that my parents had gifted to me on one of my birthdays a very long time ago. It was something that I felt, at that point in time, had changed my life!

    I don’t remember anything apart from that. May be because everything else was governed by the ‘social pressure’ of giving and receiving gifts of the ‘apt’ value. As humans, I think, emotions will always take over material as far as individuals are concerned. But when it comes to others – friends, relatives, society, baraatees – we think of doing what we feel will raise our stature in ‘others’ eyes.

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    1. What beautiful memories, Swati! I have heard about your grandfather too and I can understand how much his handwritten gifts would have meant to you. As for the reading lamp, I am sure that it changed your life, and brought light into it. The sentiments behind a gift should count and not the fact that it ‘needs to be done in such a way’. Most of us are slaves of others’ opinions of us and don’t want to fall short, least of all due to lagging behind in spending money in order to raise our status, as you have so rightly pointed out.

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  49. The ostentatious display of wealth has become the new name of the game be it a wedding or a birthday bash! The noveau rich only know how to splurge without knowing anything about the ritual or the culture. Sadly in the mad race one tries to outdo another:(

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    1. The sad part is that money power has taken over everything else — sentiments, culture, custom and propriety. The more you spend, the better you are deemed to be. And the upward spiral continues to zoom.

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  50. A long post but brought out the sickening trend in display of wealth be it in marriage, birthday party or anything one does ignoring the real significance of such occasions. Gift is an outward index of this moral decadence.
    Ostentation in anything is a sign of poverty of values. The display of one’s wealth publicly to win approbation and show off in a rat race with other depraved minds is considered a fashionable virtue and a derivative of the filmy trend. The wealth given to an individual is a trust to be used, after keeping enough to one’s reasonable personal and family need, for the betterment of the needy and for good causes. Some of the highly rich persons lead very simple lives giving away a lion’s chunk of their wealth for public causes towards health, education and basic facilities without publicity. But it is the impoverished minds that seek to compensate for the poverty of values by pompous show in outdoing others in anything they do.
    Whatever is done without ostentation and without others being witness to it is alone praiseworthy: In matters of charity the left hand should not know what the right hand is doing. But it is incumbent of the public who are the beneficiaries of the munificence of the generous philanthropists to acknowledge and make public such good actions.

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    1. Everything is a matter of money today, KP. ‘Have it, will flaunt it!’ is the dictum. when one says that one wants to celebrate a wedding on a small scale, one is immediately asked, ‘So you are planning to save money?’ What is wrong with saving money as opposed to throwing it? Also, raising the limit of gifting is creating unnecessary pressure on those who can’t afford to give lavish ones. How often I have just taken a bar of chocolate to gift the child who has it all? How often have I had any gift I took, left disinterestedly on the table by the child of the house? Giving needs to be done with heart and the taking has to be with the same spirit, right?

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  51. Er… is it just me or did I read the post twice on the same page?

    On one had ostentatiousness has gone beyond the realms of comparision with anything human in scale, but on the other hand youngsters are also getting smarter.

    One cousin refused to get married in a lavish ceremony – he actually wanted to be just a simple court ceremony and be done with it. His aunts had to intervene – his father is a revered member in the community – and it wasn’t just about customs or showing off by having a decently large wedding party, but a get-together of the community of sorts. He compromised on that, but made a caveat that whatever the expenses were to be from the groom’s side, he’d bear them. The father could not spend a single penny for the wedding.

    Another friend of mine had to bow to the parents’s ideas for the wedding, but she got her way in a different manner. In our community, gifts are not that valued – the cash given is. It is collected separately, away from the couple, and recorded in a register then and there. The person who is in charge of this amount and this register at the end of the wedding is the seniormost and the first person whose blessings are taken. What this girl did was to take this cash and register, and give it to the charity she volunteered for. No one else was allowed to even hold it – the person registering the gifts was a volunteer friend. Voila.

    I guess, some members of our generation and your generation have seen the excesses some of our peers are capable of, have thrown away all those glasses, are seeing the world for as it is, and living a sensible life. (Or they make it out to be on the internet, that is 😉 )

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    1. No, Harshal. It is not just you. The post had got repeated in its entirety due to some error either in my vision or some quirk of WP 😀 Sorry about that. you know, one good thing about many youngsters today is that they attend weddings for the joy and togetherness they experience when their friend is getting married and do not worry about making an impression with the gifts. I am not against gifts per se, but about them becoming a statement of the status of the giver and receiver. The whole point is lost in this, isn’t it?

      The custom of recording the gifts is the remnant of the one I have mentioned in the post, when the community and relatives partook in the expenses. It was not then a way of honouring or humiliating the giver. But customs are continued in the name of tradition after throwing out the relevance of the times. I have nothing against people having a great time celebrating the occasion. Because, it is only on such occasions that the extended family meets. In the absence of a large enough house, there is need for a hall. In many south Indian weddings, even today everyone sprawls out in the hall on the carpets and yaks through the night. What I want is the joy to be intact with the pomp banished.

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  52. I am growing big and fat, but the functions are not in my household, just because of my smart kids, who tell me let us have a small party and utilize the money for something useful. I still have hope that the younger generation is wise with their expenditure and the trend is about to change soon….
    I hope more people will read your post…

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    1. That is so nice to hear, Farida. Whether or not we become slim, the celebrations certainly need to become so. There are a lot of young people who are going for simple weddings and birthday celebrations, with the focus being just on the togetherness and joy of the occasion. But there are an equal number of them who are inviting each other to their big fat celebrations.

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      1. My family (mom’s side) were very extravagant and loved to celebrate in a big way. I have seen the downside of spending lavishly, therefore that was one of the first lessons I taught my children. No teacher is as good as personal experience 😉

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        1. How true, Farida. I have seen many people in my own family struggle to pay off loans taken for their children’s weddings. As the education levels increased, this only gave the groom’s side to demand more in terms of gifts from the girl’s family as if they had not spent money to educate their daughters!

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  53. I detest going for weddings for the same reason you have stated – the big and fat syndrome! Even if I do go, I go empty-handed. I wish and hug the couple but don’t give any gift. I do it on purpose. My presence is itself a great gift, I reckon. When we got married, we opted to make it a very simple one. I didn’t wear much jewellery and there were almost nil decorations. Everything was simple and elegant. I am glad that I got married that way. I understand that a wedding happens only once but even then why to indulge shamelessly.

    This post needs to be sent to every individual (read parents and some prospective brides/grooms) who are planning on a wedding anytime soon.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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    1. That is the perfect gift, isn’t it? Your presence? 🙂 I go to any wedding including family ones dressed decently but without any extra jewellery or special get ups. I have been obsessing with the trend of gifting though, and had to write it 🙂 you see, after a point the gift loses its personal touch but becomes one of trying to impress the others.

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