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HOW TO FIND INDIAN LOVE: THE COST OF WEDDINGS

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A mong 21st century India’s many new professions, a glamorous one is that of the wedding planner, which formed the basis of one of my favourite Hindi films in recent times, Band Baja Baraat.

It’s a profession that may soon find itself moving from the shiny gota-kinaari lined corridors of Yashraj films to the underlit sweatshop gallis (or gullys if you’re more of a hipster indie type) of gritty realism.

That’s because it may well be driven underground by the proposed Marriages (Compulsory Registration and Prevention of Wasteful Expenditure) Bill, seeking to curb wedding expenses.

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You may ask what can be so terrible about spending less on weddings? The vulgarity of 400 dishes and a wedding become outlawed? Na rahega Humpty, na banega uske dukhaniya ka lehenga, you know?

I can hear one of the explainer type people on twitter going - well if that money is not spent on weddings, it will still get earned and spent on something else, no?

Relax darling, this is India, so there is a loophole. If you still want to spend more than 5 lakhs on a wedding then you’ll have to declare what the amount will be and contribute 10 per cent of it to a government fund established to support the weddings of poor girls.

As so often happens with any form of moral sniffery around anything that involves love, marriage and sex, that which claims to help women, either makes things worse for them, or at best prevents things from getting better.

The MP objects to expensive weddings on the basis of solemnity. Marriage is too serious to spend money on and party so hard. I don’t know if the implication is that marriage is an event of impending doom, which should induce gravity and grumps instead of naach gana and hangovers. Probably not.

But isn’t the great expense at weddings precisely because marriage is taken too seriously? The purpose for which boys and girls are cooked to perfection or destruction, in our society? It is so also often the one event where you may be important in a way that depends on pleasure, enjoyment, excess and not only fulfilling duty. For once women, especially, may feel like the most important person in the room. You may not be allowed to choose your profession, or even your partner, or well, only from a limited range, but you can choose the colour of your clothes and the sauce for the pasta.

If people’s other choices were to matter more, maybe a wedding wouldn’t be such a big deal. People might have many small parties in their lives instead of one big one if you know what I mean.

And as for the sanctimonious declaration that the contribution from big weddings will support a wedding fund for poor girls - maybe if it were instead to be contributed to an education fund or hostel fund for young working women instead, that would help to balance out life’s possibilities and make marriage less central as a means of survival, which it often is for poor young women.

Or if it were to be contributed to a fund for boys who are to get married, that would create a paradigm shift on who must pay for a wedding, instead of endorsing the idea that a girl is a burden that must be paid for with wedding expenses.

False moralities, which claim to punish excess, rather than build alternative structures that are more sustaining are simply an invitation to a wedding of power and control. The exorbitant emotional cost is borne by all of society.

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07:08 - 17/2/2017 - poster un commentaire


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