Sunday, November 20, 2016

The interesting history of big fat Indian weddings!

The interesting history of big fat Indian weddings!
CAMIL PARKHE | Sunday, 20 November 2016 AT 01:52 PM IST      
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While the country is speaking about nothing but the demonetisation of high-value currency and most people are struggling to get enough cash from the banks, one individual was seen reportedly spending close to Rs 500 crore on his daughter’s wedding in Karnataka last week. Many questions were raised about how an individual can do this while the entire country is strapped for cash. This has brought the focus on big fat Indian weddings and the cash spent on weddings in India.

Marriages of the rich and powerful are matter of envy for the common people and they are also a matter much talked about. One of such marriages in Maharashtra took place at Akluj in Solapur district four decades ago but it is an event referred to even today when there is a talk of lavish marriage ceremonies of the rich. Cooperative and sugar baron Shankarrao Mohite Patil had hosted a grand celebration in the early 1970s on the occasion of his eldest son Vijaysinh (later deputy chief minister of Maharashtra). The marriage ceremony which lasted for a few days was attended by thousands of villagers from Solapur district, earning the nickname Sahasrabhojane Mohite Patil (one who fed thousands of people).

Prior to the marriage, Shankarrao Mohite Patil had visited several villages in Solapur district to invite the local people for the marriage and since it was impossible for him to meet each villager’s family in person, he applied the red tila (vermilion) on the boards of the respective village panchayat. The villagers too treated this an invitation that they could not turn down and attended the marriage and the subsequent reception enthusiastically. As the lavish marriage celebration took place in Maharashtra other parts of the country was hit by drought. So then prime minister Indira Gandhi had questioned Shankarrao Mohite Patil about the propriety of holding such a lavish celebration. The cooperative baron who had a large following in his district had then replied, “But madam, how could I not invite these people for my son’s marriage when I myself had attended almost all major functions in the families of my supporters?”

After the negative publicity attracted by the Akluj marriage, the politicians and others in Maharashtra have avoided turning the marriage ceremonies in their family into an extravaganza affair.

The marriage of Supriya Sule, daughter of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, held in Baramati in early 1991 was an example in this regard. Although the marriage was attended by the then prime minister Chandra Shekhar, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and other political veterans, those who attended the wedding still recall how the ceremony was devoid of any pomp and show or obscene exhibition of wealth.

In Indian history, the marriage of Indira and Feroze Gandhi which took place just a few months before the 1942 Quit India movement cited an example of simplicity. The couple had worn khadi clothes and also a garland made of sandalwood and khadi. The ‘first family in Indian politics’ has kept this tradition of simplicity in marriage to this date.

The marriage of Prince Charles and Diana in 1981 was billed as the ‘marriage of the century’. More than a year before the royal wedding, the event had hogged the limelight in newspaper columns and other media and the UK had attracted a large number of tourists during those days. The souvenirs of the royal wedding were sold in large numbers at that time. It is an altogether a different matter that the much talked about the royal romance and the subsequent wedding ceremony later ended in a formal separation of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The recent marriage ceremony which attracted negative publicity and widespread criticism was the one hosted by NCP leader Bhaskar Jadhav at Chiplun in Konkan region in 2013. The NCP Chief Sharad Pawar had then publicly chastised Jadhav for the obscene show of wealth when the State was reeling under severe drought situation.

The recent marriage of the daughter of former Karnataka minister and BJP leader G Janardhan Reddy at Bengaluru is estimated to have cost Rs 100 crore. The marriage was attended by over 50,000 and a large number VVIPs belonging to all political parties.

It may be said that there is nothing wrong with rich people spending money on various events as long as the spent money is legal. The extravaganza nonetheless does raise a question mark over the need and propriety of hosting the event in such a manner. Even those VVIPs who attend such an event either as an obligation or protocol do endorse such filthy show of wealth and prosperity. The public figures at least should avoid endorsing it. 

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