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June 29, 2009

I attended a marriage last month. Some details of the marriage

Sangeet in a five star hotel with a guest list of 800+ (that includes not only relatives or friends but distant business colleagues or acquaintances and their family
Marriage in open ground ( big enough to accommodate more than 2000 guests) fresh flowers decorations everywhere ( orchids, roses etc), fireworks, sparkling lights all over, games for children,valet parking arrangements for the odd 2000 guests, more than 150 dishes in the buffet spread ( Punjabi, Rajasthani, Guajarati, Maharastrian Mexican, Chinese, continental, Italian , you name the dish and it was there)

Brides outfit (minus the jewellery) more than Rs one lakh)

Gifts given by the bride’s family to the groom’ family (mind you to the grooms family not to the groom or the bride) – diamond jewellery to immediate family members (including the male members, gold to other relatives, 21 saris to grooms mother only clothes for all near relatives, silver glasses to distant relatives AND this is besides the dowry which was given to the bride

Bride a Doctor

Groom a MBA


Out of those 2000 odd guests only few knew the couple. Rest like me were guests who didn’t know even the parents. (I had accompanied my husband and father in law as they were also acquaintances of the father)

I wonder why the so called educated, modern and liberated couple didn’t object to this sheer wastage of money. Why they did not put their foot down to lavish gifts given or the dowry given and when asked the couple they replied “can’t help it, in our community all this has to be done”
How can a self respecting. decently placed boy expect his wife to bring dowry. after all equality of gender is also something.

Why the girls family is expected to spend so much on the marriage. After all, the girl is equally educated and most of the parents don’t differentiate these days between girls and boys then why do the parents of a girl have to shell out so much to see their daughter married off. Is the daughter a burden on them? Is it a crime to have a daughter or see her settled in life with a decent boy?

Is it only the girl who is getting married? Is the boy not getting a wife who will leave her house, her family to come to live with him, his family and make all of them a part of her own family?

Why doesn’t the boy’s family also contribute equally to the marriage functions? Why it is expected from the girl’s side only to bear the expenses of the marriage function.

Why dont the youngesters fight aganinst this criminal waste of money. They can make their parents understand not to throw away money over showing off.

More important why squander so much on marriage functions and invite each and every one. Why can’t this money be given to the couple to start their life with more comforts? After all, the money is being spent by the parents. Give as much as you want to your daughter but why blow the hard earned money on strangers?

I suppose marriage is a family function where only close relatives and family friends should be present to bless the couple (we didn’t even go to wish the couple for simple reasons that we didn’t know the couple and there was a long queue near the stage, we just wished the parents and left), I just thought what was the need for them to invite us or hundreds of others. Was it just to show off their riches or to show off the long guest list or to promote their business?

Fine, parents who can afford to spend so much, spend but think of parents who are financially not well off, it becomes a burden for them to see their daughter married. That is why a daughter is not welcomed in many of Indian families.

Even after the huge dowry given (which according to me is the price given to buy the boy for the girl but in our culture which is seen as the price given to the boy to marry the daughter, as if the daughter is a liability on the parents, the sooner she is disposed off, the better it is for the parents) the girl doesn’t get respect or her due place at her inlaws place.

I am all for celebrating the marriage with all traditions and customs, having all the ceremonies , giving gifts to the couple but only because I want to give not because it is expected from me being the brides parents,after all we parents earn for our children and we want them to have all the comforts and facilities,( I would like to have all the possible ceremonies for my daughter’s marriage, follow all the customs) but with only close friends and relatives who are a part of your family and who will be happy for the couple but why invite the whole town to witness your propserity or why take loans just to maintain your name in the society ( no one will come to rescue you from the clutches of loan givers once you fail to return the loan)

If the parents wants to give to the couple go ahead and give if you can afford but please don’t make a public display of your affluence.

And to the young generation especially the boys who are on the threshold of marriage, stand up, raise your voice against dowry or display of opulence of your parents in the name of tradition and customs.. Take whatever your parents can give you, even demand (after all you have the right to and it is yours only) but don’t advertise it.

Think of lakhs of family who cannot afford to do so. and even if they can afford it why encourage others to do so and in turn make others greedy/

41 Comments leave one →
  1. Mia permalink
    June 29, 2009 7:35 am

    "Why can’t this money be given to the couple to start their life with more comforts?" This is what i frequently ask n talk abt wherever i see such extravagently spent wedding ceremonies.. Awesome post my friend!
    So glad to heart leaps for joy 🙂 Loved the post a lot.. let it open such closed eyes..

  2. ZiLliOnBiG permalink
    June 29, 2009 7:48 am

    I ditto your thoughts about such extravagant marriages. Shame on such people. I have been to some of such marriages, but my marriage was a low key family affair, Thanks to my dad. He is all against such social practices and absolutely hate the word DOWRY…why on earth is a brides family charged? Strange systems we have.

    Now, Look at mayawati and her statue building spree. Atleast such marriages happen with their money. mayawati is looting public money and using it for such atrocious and ridiculous purposes. About 50 crores, and when people in UP are the poorest.

    MY BLOOD BOILS.She should be tied and lashed a thousand times.What the hell she thinks she is?.One ugly, mad woman..Sorry for that:

  3. AnjuGandhi permalink
    June 29, 2009 8:23 am

    @ Mia and ZillionBig last month there was a marriage at one of our frnds house. the grooms family wanted to bring 700 guests, brides family wanted not more than 500. One of the uncles of the groom got angry and said "Ok we will bring only 10 persons" finally the boys side agreed to 500 and this was supposed to be a love marriage between a south Indian and a Marwari girl. why din't the girl and boy stood up, If they had the courage to face the parents and declare their love and fight against caste issued, they could have also put their foot down over the expenses. I ask why even 500. why cant only close relatives and frnds?

  4. Mimi permalink
    June 29, 2009 8:40 am

    I too do not understand why American couples go deep into debt to pay for a lavish wedding that lasts about 6-8 hours at the most!!! The bride's family spends all this money mostly for a big show!!! Our daughter's wedding was very nice, but not like some we have been to. I refused to spend our life savings on a big fuss, when you can have a Beautiful wedding on a reasonable budget. I agree with you!!! Invite friends and family, not everyone who knows barely knows you!!!
    And I too hate the word Dowry, and it is not used here on American women. I think it is down grading women in those countries still paying it. It is wrong. The Groom should be Happy to take a wife as his mate and lover, not pay for her.
    have a blessed day,

  5. The Panorama permalink
    June 29, 2009 9:47 am

    I couldn't agree more, Anju. On one hand the young generations wants to break free of old restrictions and restraints imposed on them by their parents, yet they do not speak up against this kind of waste of money.
    A good post, as usual:)

  6. Parita permalink
    June 29, 2009 9:58 am

    You ve taken the topic closest to my heart, very well written!

  7. Zeba Talkhani permalink
    June 29, 2009 10:26 am

    I feel the same. Age old traditions are fast getting pointless but no one seems to have the guts to stand up against them. That is just how it works here. If you don't show off then people talk, about what a cheap person you are and all the crap. You know what I am talking about!

    P.S – I finished one year in journalism degree. two more to go!!

  8. Gayathri permalink
    June 29, 2009 12:59 pm

    yeah exactly..this is what makes me furious too every time my marriage is brought up into discussion.. there's no dowry in my community..but the bride's party must bear the marriage expenses..why on earth is there so much of discrimination?afterall,it's a lady who really struggles after a marriage,leaving all her kith and kin to a strange place..
    and sometimes,even the bride's parents,in order to show off their affluence,end up giving a lot of dowry,which fetches absolutely no good..what's the use of all those jewels in the safe,when there are bigger and more serious things to think abt!

  9. Swatantra permalink
    June 29, 2009 2:37 pm


    Very nice post!! You have an amazing writing!! Your blog name always comes true for the posts!!

    Great going!!

  10. ramya permalink
    June 29, 2009 3:06 pm

    Oh! How I wish I had attended the wedding, there would be lotsa good things to eat 😉
    We, beings Iyers don't have dowry in our community, thank god!
    But, seriously, all this is for shoshe-baazi and stuff. People who can spend that much tend to flaunt too much! Can't change the human nature.

    By the way, I am taking up the tag. I'll post it soon 🙂

  11. Meira permalink
    June 29, 2009 3:13 pm

    sad! Though most people I know prefer to finance their wedding on their own. I wanted to minimize mine…so had decided to elope…to bad the parents caught whiff and set us down for a 'traditional wedding'! Sheesh!some parents 😀

  12. Nazish Rahman permalink
    June 29, 2009 3:25 pm

    Is bad and shameful that the guy took all this and too he is educated. I think mam he girls side is also to be blamed as is bowed to the wrong customs they should have gone against it…common your daughter is a doctor not an illiterate girl…u'll get many good guys. People who stick to the old wrong customs face all this…but the sad part of the story is that think about the people of that community who cant afford, this girls family has come out as an example.

    I believe in this institution of marriage but some how i have never been able to understand that why the hell should i call everyone and spend so much, instead investing it somewhere would result great for the couples. As it is the marriage expiry rate has shortened as we can see the number of divorce cases these days, sound illogical to spend so much and that too by taking loans.

    Girls are no way a burden they are as good as guys these days!!! I think a person or thinks daughter as a burden, doesn't respect his mother who gave him birth and one who cant respect his mother i dont consider him a human being. I mean u have to respect daughters and they are as equal as boys.

    Nice post Anjuji….i really think u should not stop here and carry on this debate on your blog…i think still our society needs to be educated, especially those who are highly educated. We all are here to support the view that u have put forward here!!!

    take care!!!

  13. June 29, 2009 5:36 pm

    thanks for comments on my blog, i read your message but i can read your all comments if this happens again let me know.Thanks for feedback. i will just request you please later when you visit my blog check that your comment is visible or not and let me know

  14. June 29, 2009 5:40 pm

    About this big indian fat wedding,i will just say few points.
    What a perosn will do if got black money,india is such a nation where creating black money is indirectly encouraged.
    and very easy.
    2nd marriage has become a business place,you will find in marriage also they are talking and fixing there business contracts.
    3rd marriage is a place to find a rich girl or rich boy as husband or wife.
    They dont have to do anything with Indian traditions.
    As per Indian traditions there is no need of fire crackers etc.
    Its no where mentioned in vedas.Even firecracker is not indian invention.

  15. Durga Nandan permalink
    June 29, 2009 6:24 pm

    Tell you what I feel.
    I would have something special of course. But that would be just to remember our union by. Not a show off. And god bless me and my would be hubby, we would nt have to keep that plastic smile plastered on our faces, for all those mama of maami of neighbor's friends and relatives.
    Spending money by the bride's dad, that too such a huge amount, is stupid, if you ask me. Man, cant you at least economize during the recession time? At least, as Anjuji said, they could have given the new couple the money to start a new life.

    I feel, it is considered a question of status by most parents and couples themselves.
    And yes, I have seen many instances when not inviting the distantly related uncles and aunties, have created problems in my own household, for nominal functions. Now no parent would want their kids' marriage to be thought or talked of in that light.
    About the would be-s speaking up, they would have to have real lot of guts to do that. They gotta be careful. Especially, if it could lead to a feud between the families even before they are married.

    There are ways to celebrate. Money and enjoyment are not proportional. And I certainly condemn the grooms who let the bride's father take all the burden.
    Man, be a man. You are getting a treasure. Show some respect.

    And Anjuji, your topics are a compelling read. 🙂

  16. Queenmothermamaw permalink
    June 29, 2009 10:37 pm

    Dear Awake, I found your blog through one of my blog buddies. I have many friends in India who are Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. SCN started their mission in India over 50 years ago. I have always wanted to have a blog friend from India. Come visit me in my little neck of the woods. I enjoyed your blog. Very profound discussion. I agree. We had 4 daughters and each one put on her own wedding along with the groom. I bought each daughter's dress. My special gift to her. That is all. Would love to learn more about your culture. Blessing

  17. AnjuGandhi permalink
    June 30, 2009 5:35 am

    thanx to every one who responded to my views .your appreciation inspires me to experss my self more and more. and to share a truth I wait for comments from my blogging family. and i miss the ones who have not replied as yet.

  18. hitch writer permalink
    June 30, 2009 10:26 am

    wow… what a royal waste… if anything i would get all that money for a lavish honeymoon that would last atleast 6 months… 😉

  19. Ashish permalink
    June 30, 2009 4:10 pm

    I concur with your thoughts Bhuva. Although I don't have a daughter yet, I still believe that Indian culture should adopt some things from western culture (at least for the good part) and let the bride and groom decide on their wedding. From the banquet to theme, from food to flowers and above all from family to friends, all should be chosen by the bride and groom with assistance from parents. After all it's their wedding and they should control the fate of what is about to happen for the rest of their lives.

  20. ~Just me again~ permalink
    June 30, 2009 5:23 pm

    It's crazy how people spend money for weddings these days. And strange the customs of other countrys. When I was married, my dad refused to pay for anything. His theory was if a man can't give a woman the wedding she wants, then he'll never be able to keep her happy. Fortunately for me, I didnt need such extravagances. My mom did pay for the wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses and the flowers. Only cuz she was a seamstress, and owned a flower shop. She also paid for the invitations, because we sent out like 500. Even though we only had like 120 at the reception. She felt the need to let everyone and their dog in Europe know about the wedding. If I did it over again, I would have just eloped and then had a reception after.

  21. Shruti SriHarsha permalink
    June 30, 2009 6:39 pm

    Hi Anju, I bloghopped and read some of your blogs….most of tHEM I read relates to all issues we are facing around in the society…I must say you write very well and amazing….Many times I agree fully to your views and wanted to let you know!!!! Nice to know you through blog….

  22. Mimi permalink
    July 1, 2009 1:05 am

    I just wanted to answer your question why I'm wearing RED-White and BLUE all week!! It's the 4th of JUly this Sat. and a celebration here in America for it's our Independence DAY!!!!!Hope you have a great day,

  23. Charity Joy Bell Childs permalink
    July 1, 2009 4:02 am

    I hope that…

    …the bride and groom do not come across your blog…

    ha ha ha haah ah ahah haha! 🙂

  24. Ms. Neha Gandhi permalink
    July 1, 2009 4:35 am

    u have been choosing social awareness topics lately…whats the deal hmmm 🙂
    u should be a writer…i mean like a real professional one…i have been telling that from day one…like from the day i could actually read:)

    regarding this post…i am not very against a lavish show of money and affluence…because to each his own…some wanna have this one day in the grandest possible way…and some like low key affairs

    but i do agree with the fact…that its only the girl and her family who should bear the burden of the cost…it should be divided…and if the grooms family expects the brides family to spend so much…then the girl should get the sign and call it off…i know this is too harsh…but such things are a picture of what to expect in future from such people…

  25. Anonymous permalink
    July 1, 2009 5:31 am

    Well I like your writing skills but I think its a one sided view…let me take you to the other side.

    I am against dowry if it is demanded. But it given just like that i mean by brides parents wish whats wrong in that??..This tradition started becuase in indian families gals are not given part of there inherited property and its a way of giving the daughter her due. How many if you have heard that reliance property will be divide between there sons and daughter equally??..It was just between anil and mukesh (I think they have a sister too). So if you think its wrong to give dowry than other way is parents shd give equally divided part of property to there daughters.

    Coming to lavish marriages. It may looks that it is waste of many but if you see the brighther side; the money (most of the time black money) coming into market. People are getting paid from decorator to waiter. SO money that is locked in locker of this people come out. If parents decide to give just cash or gold directly that money may not come into market at all .

    No offence just a point of view.


  26. Jyothi permalink
    July 1, 2009 5:43 am

    Hi..First time commenting on your blog..

    A very nice post.I agree about the lack of need for such lavish weddings. A cermony and lunch thereafter, this is the standard kerala wedding. There was no Dowry in my case. My parents were totally against it. They gave me Gold which till date is my asset. Close friends and relatives were invited to join in the happiness and bless us.

    The young generation in many ways are hypocrites. They want to be modern but when it comes to marriage, they are as old as any. May it be regarding the wedding expenses or the bride itself. I wonder how many of them get married in jeans and minis??

  27. AnjuGandhi permalink
    July 1, 2009 8:25 am

    I am not against lavish marriages or having all the ceremonies or customs, rather I will make sure that I follow each and every custom prevalant when my children get married. i am against calling the whole world. just close friends and relatives so that proper attention can be given to each and every one and they are taken care of properly.
    otherwise in most of the cases the whole family is on the stage with the couple and no one is there to welcome the guests and take care of them.

  28. AnjuGandhi permalink
    July 1, 2009 8:28 am

    Hi annonymous thanx for ur visit. it is better to divide your property equally amongst the children ( sons and daughters ) than to spend extravagantly on daughter's marriage. and if u have black money then make good use of it and also give gifts to your daughter. but give only if you can afford it and want to. dont give gifts in the form of dowry or when forced to give

  29. Anonymous permalink
    July 1, 2009 8:43 am

    thats wat exactly the point i made..if its forced I am against it…If not than wats the big deal. You straight away opposed dowry hence i made the point. And you also you said guys should also contribute I would support that if indian families start dividing there family property equally and that will surely take time.
    And again depends on person to person. Wats wrong if I want to give away my money by spending on my daughters marriage and not giving the cash or gold or property? You cant generalize.


  30. Aparna permalink
    July 1, 2009 5:25 pm

    Hi Anju, a very thought provoking post. Many a times a girl's parents are coerced into doing something that they are not capable of doing. I feel this is so sad. The onus is also on the parents to say no to such greedy people. Today, specially the girl you mentioned above, are capable of looking after themselves and their parents financially. I see no reason why they should not be firm and put their foot down when it comes to such lavish weddings.

  31. Indian Home Maker permalink
    July 2, 2009 8:04 am

    well said Anju Gandhi. I find the younger generation is not at all averse to such lavish spending, which is really sad. I think one reason for such extravaganza is the Indian desire to compete, everybody wants to prove they have more than others. Some can afford, others must prove they can afford no less.

  32. Ketan permalink
    July 2, 2009 10:21 am

    Hello Anju ma'am,

    A very thoughtful post, I'd say. Could you please make the comments' page to be in 'full page' format so that readers can subscribe to comments?

    Well, if the father of the bride could actually afford that easily, and if did all that willingly (which it looks like), then this particular case won't be one of discrimination against the girl.

    I'm personally very much against any kind of show off in any sphere of life. I think these kind of public displays of affluence occur for two major reasons–first, it's money itself, and not the ability to earn (which would in an ideal society require intelligence, creativity, hard work, good interpersonal skills, etc.) that's respected and second, people think they're as good as what others think they're. The first fact I can illustrate by pointing out that people will respect someone who farms 5 crore rupees through a lottery as much as someone who earns that money starting from scratch. The second factor is even more detrimental–both at a personal and societal level. It no doubt, leads to such lavish display of affluence the kind you've pointed out, but it also makes people deviate from doing what they would actually want to do. The best example is education and career. You'll find so many talented writers sitting before PCs wondering why they are there. So may talented potential sportspersons working as accountants. People with aptitude to be economist being doctors or lawyers–all this only because at some very crucial moment of life, they thought "what others will think of me". It is the same need for societal approval that drives us to lie, brag, show others down.

    Fortunately, my community doesn't have tradition of dowry, and even more fortunately, I wouldn't be concerned even if my community had it.

    All the points you've raised are very practical.

    And on most practical note, why was I not invited! 😦

    Take care.

  33. Queenmothermamaw permalink
    July 2, 2009 5:31 pm

    Dear Anju, You are very much a WOW, and deserve a WOW pin. I have many thoughts about my own religion regarding the treatment of woman that I can express to other women. I am an admirer of the Indian culture, but I think the really old things were done for the times and many things need to be changed to better suit the times. Values never change. That is what older folks are worried about. Sometimes they don't realize changing the "how to do" things does not mean changing the values of.
    Vitis my WOW blog for your pin.
    Peggy (QMM)

  34. Mimi permalink
    July 2, 2009 5:44 pm

    I did not get a photo of me yesterday, but I wore a red top with navy shorts!!!!!I only had to go to the bank yesterday, so did not get a photo of me doing anything!!! I will today as I will be wearing Red/white and blue again!!!
    Yes, I hope Miss C loves History, I know I do and our son LOVES and always has loved all World History!!! he is in law school now!!!So hopefully Miss C will want to go to Law school too!!! I think it is cheaper and fater them going to Medical School!!!! I just want to introduce her to a little of everything, arts, history, music, math, etc!!! Nothing like a well rounded person!!!
    have a blessed day!!

  35. Queenmothermamaw permalink
    July 2, 2009 6:40 pm

    Anju, I just finished my WOW blog. I bet you got there before I finished. I read your past post you are a WOW.

  36. AnjuGandhi permalink
    July 2, 2009 6:58 pm

    Thanx Queenmothermamaw (Peggy) for the WOW pin.its a great honour to receive it.

  37. Queenmothermamaw permalink
    July 2, 2009 8:58 pm

    I just read and post a pin when ever someone relates a feeling, or situation they are dealing with. It is just a lifting up in prayer the woman I am connecting with. I see you have yours posted. That honors me too. I am going to visit your daughter's blog now.

  38. Smitha permalink
    July 3, 2009 12:35 pm

    Hopped over from NGI. I loved this post of yours… Already put in a long comment there – so not repeating it again here 🙂

    Just wanted to say, that it's great that you blogged about it.. Wish more people thought like you..

  39. Deepa permalink
    July 23, 2009 3:38 am

    I'm so glad I found a blog that raises these questions!

    @ Anonymous – you've raised the point since women do not get a share of property, whats wrong with dowry – it gets a girl her share in property. Good rationale – but flawed. The downside of dowry far outweighs any "benefits" it may have. Women's right to property and therefore economic independence is important. But dowry is not the way to get it. The law prohibits dowry as a crime. Hindu succession laws give women the right to property. Lets bash those who do not implement these laws as they, should rather than trying to rationalise dowry.

    I work in the social development sector. The evils of dowry are penetrating the lower socio economic classes who can ill afford it. The consequences are horrifying. An example, female feticide. In states like Haryana, there are villages which are without girls. Families 'buy' brides from poverty stricken states like Bihar and the exploitation of women continues.

    I also do not accept the ostentatious show of wealth in the name of marriage. My husband and I were very clear that we would not spend unnecessarily at our wedding. Our families wanted to go the whole nine yards. But we convinced them and met at the middle of the road. A small ceremony with only close friends and family. Just the way we wanted it.

    Sorry for the long comment. But these anti women traditions really bug me!


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