Farewell my Pickled friends, as the Interweb faithful say, brb. This is what I’m doing. I will try to drop in when I can and I shall certainly keep my eyes open for anything interesting to write about. I thought I’d sign out with something a bit lighter, but first the headlines:
Bangladesh beat Sri Lanka and the England team have got Delhi belly.
Al Qaeda’s next target identified.
Google Maps puts up new high(er) res images of the infamous Area 51, but Google Earth now less cool as 3D timetravel now possible in London.
Vegas casinos outsourcing to India (warning – shocking grammar in this piece).
Brokeback Mountain entitled ‘Faggot Cowboys‘ in Turkey.
Christians and Muslims kill each other in Nigeria, no one surprised.
Bullock racing, jumping cows, teeth pulling tractors – India’s rural Olympics.
New beer launched in Palestine, called Hamas. Explosive taste.
Christians feel left out, protest about cartoons.
And now our feature presentation:
TIME ran a piece this week entitled The Land of the Wedding Planners, charting the rise and rise of the mega wedding in India and amongst Indians around the world. Weddings, it seems, have become a field in which Indians lead the way. The country’s burgeoning middle class have embraced weddings as an opportunity to show off their often obscene wealth.
Alex Perry, author of the piece, describes the wedding of a New Delhi doctor’s daughter:
The 1,000 guests mill under a marquee that’s the size of a cricket field and help themselves to a 42-dish buffet. The sides of the tent are crimson chiffon, the ceiling is black satin inset with sequin stars, and the drapes and the throw cushions are gold and amber silk. The place is heated by 20 gas burners and illuminated by 25 chandeliers, 40 lanterns, 66 spotlights and 288 candles. Tradition dictates that separate celebrations be held for the groom, the bride, their engagement and their families and friends. So Chopra, a prominent New Delhi physician, plans to throw five parties over seven days.
I’m sorry, this is small fry. I met up with some friends recently, all of whom came over here for university, from India. They were recounting two weddings, held a week apart. Both were friends from LSE, both were sons of diamond merchants from Gujarat. They estimate 10,000 guests were present at each and a raft of the Bollywood A-list pranced (including Hema Malini and her daughters). This is more like it.
Perhaps most famously, two years ago the Bengali head of Sahara, Subrato Roy, flew 10,000 guests on 26 planes to an Â£80 million wedding for his son. The candles cost Â£250,000, there was a 100-piece orchestra, the Moscow State Circus showed up and everyone who’s anyone was there, often performing on stage. All photos were banned. This also serves to demonstrate that it is no longer the father of the bride who solely foots the bill. On the contrary, many weddings now pool money from both sides in order to really push the boat out.
Amazingly, the $10 billion Indian wedding-planning industry actually creates a wedding season economy boom. TIME reports:
Commodity analysts say Indian demand for gold wedding jewelry helped lift the metal’s price to a 25-year high last month.
…weddings that range from $20,000 (the average cost of a wedding blast in the U.S.) to $2 million, which gets you hand-painted invitations by artist M.F. Husain, a Thai banquet for 2,000 and a helicopter to ferry the groom to the ceremony. Indian weddings, Raheja says, are more than the union of boy and girl: “It’s the merging of two families, often two businesses.”
Indians abroad are no less brash when it comes to flashing the cash. Laxmi Mittal’s daughter’s mega-wedding, featuring those Bollywood stars again – plus Kylie – in Versailles was reported around the world, allegedly costing Â£50 million (right). Playboy Vikram Chatwal recently wed model Priya Sachdev in Delhi and Mumbai (somehow) with a guestlist including Gisele, Johnny Depp, Naomi Campbell and the family Clinton, who were in India to promote the Clinton Foundation.
For every celeb wedding, there are at least a hundred unions between super-rich Indian families and apparently the richer they are, the less likely the wedding is to feature in the gossip rags, as they are paid to stay away. Even Dev and Sunita’s wedding was given the star treatment on Corrie.
Weddings have far-reaching implications. Festivities are predominantly held during the cool, dry season. However, with Indian marriage comes superstition and as astrologers tend to select the same auspicious days, only a handful of possible dates occur where the stars and sky are in agreement. In Delhi, 15,000 weddings take place on a busy night (wow, I might become a hijra) and the 14 million residents suffer gridlock and load-shedding across the city. Post celebration, drink driving is hardly frowned upon. A great quote from the piece comes from Delhi official Ajay Kumar, explaining why the Delhi High Court banned wedding parades on public roads and parks:
“Everybody loves a good wedding, but there are times when the city turns into a kind of happy hell.”
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Filed in: Culture,Economics,Humour,India,South Asia