The Big Fat Indian Wedding

Rummana Ahmed

Bollywood has become a cultural industry that is being actively projected as the "New India". A very significant influence that Bollywood has had is the commodification or the "Bollywoodization of the Indian wedding."

Gone are the days when ostentatious weddings were considered an embarrassment in a country where a huge section of the population was struggling for a meal a day. Weddings these days are marked by excessive expenditure and the new wedding industry has emerged complete with wedding planners who create the perfect "mise-en-scene", organize designer wardrobes, arrange for choreographed dancers and manage the wedding like a high-profile media event.

Planning a wedding and planners who make this possible are part of the booming wedding industry. It is not merely about decorating the mandap anymore, it is whether you prefer a palace wedding to a beach wedding or would you rather head to the mountains to exchange the sacred vows. If you prefer a beach wedding, then would you want a fun wedding in Goa or a romantic one in Kovalam?

Once you have decided on the destination, the bride has to choose the look that she will go for before she starts shopping for her trousseau. The big decision is whether she should go for the complete Bollywood-ishtyle bridal deck-up like Katrina in "Singh is King" or the minimalist look that Kajol sported in "My Name is Khan".

Homestays are passé; the big fat Indian weddings don't really live up to their expectations unless the stay is arranged at a resort somewhere or better still, at a heritage hotel. It has to be a weekend getaway planned to precision which has to have something for everyone from our traditional joint family who have cared enough to make it to the D-day. Some of the must-haves are a swimming pool for the teenagers, a secret room for the youngsters to drink and smoke and have a bachelor's party of sorts, and enough recreation for the elders to ensure they don't kick up a ruckus during the wedding.

Once the basics have been taken care of, the post-production is essential too — coordinating with the great Indian wedding photographers (and their brilliant 'photoshopping' skills) and also helping the to-be 'just-married' couple with their honeymoon plans. Choreographing the not-so-graceful cousins to dance to Bollywood numbers is also a task in itself.

With all that goes into planning these picture-perfect weddings and making it a day to remember for years to come, the least one can hope is that they last long enough to be worth their while. We need to sometimes remind ourselves that all the extravagance only makes sense when it marks the beginning of a beautiful journey together.

Has the wedding event become more important than the institution of marriage? Share your views with us. You can also connect with me on Twitter.