Billionaire Weddings vs Self-Respect Marriages

Someone has rightly said, “Marriage is a ceremony in which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable”. Marriage in India is no more restricted as a family affair. It has become rather a symbol of status and prestige. Marriage, a simple affair of just a few relatives gathering together for the occasion is no more a trend.

Everyone wants to make a style statement through extravagant marriage ceremonies. Weddings which were synonymous with simplicity and dignity have become a vulgar show of extravagance. Today’s bride who wears dazzling outfits can cause a peacock to sulk in hiding for weeks together. When she stoops, it is not just shyness which is the reason but also the weight of the gold jewellery she wears. Bride and groom keep an artificial smile on their face in a vain bid to mask their nervousness and anxiety.

Middle class families are blindly following the trend set by the upper class and spend lavishly on the wedding celebrations. To many, as G K Chesterton says, “Marriage is an adventure, like going to war”. The minimum budget varies from Rs 10 lakh for a medium-sized wedding and goes beyond that for upper class weddings. A marriage which was simple and restricted to a single day is out of date.Now even a poor family boasts of having a two -day ceremony. No one is bothered about the amount of the pressure and economic burden on the bride’s family.

NRI steel tycoon L N Mittal, Sahara and others have set an example for extravagant weddings.Forbes Magazine in its report, titled “Billionaire Weddings”, reported that the Mittal family had sent 20-page invitations in silver boxes. About 1,000 guests were put up in a five-star Paris hotel for the five-day marriage!

At the same time, the LDF government in Kerala is thinking of bringing in legislation to control excessive spending on marriages. Finance Minister T M Thomas Isacc said that if a consensus was evolved, a clause could be introduced in the Finance Bill to tax luxurious weddings in Kerala.

In Tamil Nadu, “Self-Respect” marriages are legal, which has no mangalasutra, no rituals, and no priest to officiate the wedding. All it requires is a pair of garlands and two witnesses. But along with the changing time, the couples are using a mangalasutra in the wedding for social recognition.

The Self-Respect movement, which was formally established in 1929 by Tamil leader and atheist Periyar E V Ramaswamy Naicker, is an egalitarian one. In contrast to the Brahmanical system, it does not entail any dowry.For people who considered a Hindu marriage as an unnecessary ritual, a “Self-Respect” marriage for them seemed to be an act of rebellion worth participating in.

In 1967, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government under C N Annadurai made “Self-Respect” marriages legal in Tamil Nadu. The DMK has been trying to get such marriages legalised across the country.

It is only the mindset which can do wonders,not any legislation or Act. People should come forward to put an end to extravagant weddings. They should think that marriages are simple ceremonies restricted to a few members. Maybe, mass thinking can bring down many adverse effects associated with such ceremonies in the long run and save many lives.

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