Punjabis are mostly known to solemnise marriages by making a lavish display of their wealth. Arranging helicopter Doli for taking the bride to the groom’s home, showering flowers from chopper, pre-wedding shoots, personalised invites, 3D mapping, drone photography, elaborate international cuisine to theme decors, hiring wedding planners and organising weddings at sprawling marriage places are quite common for them. Yet, they have welcomed the proposed Bill in the Lok Sabha seeking a check on extravagant marriages. They admitted that such marriages have become compulsory evil due to a growing trend and social pressure.
Known for most lavish weddings in Punjab, the industrial city of riches — Ludhiana – and NRI belt Doaba comprising Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Kapurthala, see people spending crores on weddings that is nothing but a result of this trend of big fat marriages only.
The proposed Bill seeks to put a limit on the number of guests invited and dishes served at weddings and also those spending above Rs 5 lakh must contribute at least 10 per cent of this amount towards marriages of poor girls. The Bill has been introduced by Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan, wife of MP Pappu Yadav.
Satish Kapoor, a renowned educationist and retired principal of Khalsa College, Jalandhar, said it is an excellent move and this should have been done long ago in a country where a large number of people live below the poverty line. “Big show of wealth is nothing but a source of matrimonial discontent even and in several cases, it takes a toll on the marriages which gets broken because of this trend only. The most important in a marriage is to solemnise it in a simple affair. But now, people believe in showing off only which is not the real purpose of the marriage of two individuals,” said Kapoor, adding that instead of wasting money on food, extraordinary decorations, such people must contribute to the weddings of the poor. “All black money is used on such big marriages which leads to generation of more black money,” he said.
Recently, a Ludhiana-based couple hosted their reception at Burj Al Arab- one of the tallest structure in the world – at Dubai. Another Punjabi NRI couple hosted their engagement and pre-wedding nuptials at Burj Khalifa- world’s tallest structure in Dubai.
“We organised a marriage in Jalandhar’s costliest marriage place located on NH-1 which charges over a crore for a marriage, including Rs 5,000 per plate and we do it to please the boy’s family,” said a businessman from Jalandhar, adding that the wealthy are under more pressure.
“Helicopters to take bride from wedding venue to her new home costs anywhere from Rs 65,000 to Rs 1 lakh per hour. Foot spa service for relatives during pheras when family members are tired is another new trend and salons are paid heavily for it,” says a wedding planner.
The wedding photography now includes drone helicams covering 360 degree aerial shoots and couples even moving abroad for pre-wedding shoots. “Couples are paying Rs 5-10 lakh for photo shoots. Cost is higher for locations abroad,” said Gaurav Bajaj from Clickerz.
Even bartenders are being hired for Rs 1 to 5 lakh depending on whether they are Indians or foreigners. 3D mapping is another concept, which has recently entered Ludhiana weddings, but is still expensive and rare. “To give real time feel, videos of the couple are played on huge 3D enabled screens covering entire walls. It costs around 50 lakh,” said a wedding planner.
Manav Inder Guram, manager marketing, MBD Radisson, said, “The move is not a good one for hospitality sector. It will lead to more generation of black money as people instead of declaring amount will spend in hiding. In no way, Punjabi weddings will be affected as it is one’s personal choice on how much to spend on weddings.”
According to Jassi Khangura, owner of Hotel Park Plaza, “Social habits can’t be changed overnight, but it is a good beginning.”
“This lifestyle of Punjabis cannot be changed overnight but this bill is a good beginning at least to check this menace,” said, adding that target should be to reduce gifting ritual which puts immense pressure on the girl’s family,” said Gaurav Munjal, owner of Hero Ecotech.
Advocate Kamal Arora said, marriage expenditure has become a reason for divorce in many cases. “Even several NRIs are coming with complaints that they didn’t get food and liquor of their choice at the marriage which is ridiculous,” he said.
“In our villages, middle-class families are under tremendous social pressure to spend more and even ruin the lives of many,” said Avtar Singh, a farmer from Char-Ke village in Bhogpur, adding that in villages, this trend has left majority of farmers under huge debts.