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Pomp and show-off

Big fat Punjabi weddings are now de rigeur in the wedding season – even if the family is not Punjabi. The ostentation quotient is high and the pressures are backbreaking

What’s a Punjabi wedding if it’s not filled with grandiosity, some pomp, and a whole lot of ostentation? Well, that’s the general notion and truth be told, it’s true in most cases.

In our case, it’s the upcoming wedding of my elder brother. More than a wedding, it feels like a festival, where everything needs to be over-the-top. My brother is excited more than any person I know.

Born in a Punjabi family, he has already seen how grand it can get. Relatives, on the other hand, put more ideas in your head. “Why don’t you do a destination wedding?” a relative once asked my mother. Overwhelmed with the idea, my mother, for a few seconds was in a state of shock.

The pressure these weddings exert on individuals is enormous — from choosing the attire the groom would wear for the big day to picking the right venue.

Everything has to be seen through a purple coloured lens. Personally, I’ve known families who have spent more than Rs 5 crore on a wedding. Maybe they can afford it, but they also succumb to pressure from the society and relatives.

Where they could compromise, they don’t. Where they could save, they don’t. All because it pumps up their image and keeps it intact for the few days that ‘society’ is obsessed with the wedding in their family.

A friend of a friend who recently got married spent almost Rs 15 lakh on a lehenga. As illogical as it sounds, it makes perfect sense to those who spend that kind of cash. In such cases, all questions about a person’s career and personal wealth are sidetracked by the urge to prove that the family can shower wealth on the young couple.

My brother has been planning his own wedding for years: the venue, Sangeet ceremony, food, a pre-wedding cocktail party, a pool party and what-not. All things which I don’t relate to at all. Not because of my sexual orientation but my disinterest in splurging on things which will last only for a day.

Memories, they say, are important. But what if these memories are fostered at the cost of whatever little family wealth there is?

The scale of marriage preparations in our family has proved to be a measure of the current level of ostentatiousness in society. The way money is spent on the return gifts — to people who are on the receiving end, it’s a great deal. But for the giver, it’s a pressure.

Over the years, even non-Punjabis have started believing that this is how a wedding has to be conducted. While I keep myself included in all the decision-making processes, my interventions add little to the planning. Because I downright shout down any over-the-top ideas. Even the brainstorming sessions exhausted me.

While I would have preferred a low-key wedding, my brother wants to live up to the world’s expectations of a Punjabi wedding. The Sangeet ceremonies are designed in such ways loads of money has to be shelled out. The choreography, the music and added pomp reflects that everyone is just trying to prove a point. That this is it! You dance or you’re not cool.

Another new thing in the market is the pre-wedding video shoot. While photoshoots seem okay to me, the video seems a waste of money, which could have been used to buy a something of lasting value. It feels like a total waste of energy, time and money.

But the pressure to have the best wedding possible, is like a Super Bowl Halftime performance, you prepare for it for months. The wedding’s grandiosity may last for a few more days, but, what after that? The artists may build careers on their performance, the tentwallahs become the richest businessmen in town, the choreographers get work outside Mumbai. But we are left with depleted bank balances.

While I’m all excited for my brother’s wedding, the pomp and show-off makes me want to run to some jungle – except that there, I might find it’s the venue of another big fat destination wedding.