Why Do So Many Women Want A Big Fat Indian Wedding?

Big fat Indian weddings are supposed to be a touchstone of what a wholesome ceremony looks like. But what kind of difficulty does it breed?

Tanvi Akhauri
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Big fat Indian weddings: most everyone knows of them, many dream of them, some want them, few get them, and only a rare handful loathe them.

None can be blamed for their perspectives, however polar they may be. Because the desi grand-event in question is a phenomenon that evades any easy definitions. It has the potential to both put up a big show and elicit even bigger reactions. (And burn the biggest hole in one's humble pockets.)

But for all that they demand, do big fat Indian weddings give anything back?

Of course, what a silly question, you may think. There is so much these weddings give back. Unlimited plates of gourmet food that will take a week to digest. Millions of photo-ops and dance-offs in designer lehengas to live out your Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani fantasies. For aunties, a live exhibition to judge low-cut blouses and go full Sima Taparia. An instant social status lift for the host family.

Let me rephrase. Are big fat Indian weddings giving anything back of enduring value? Anything that guarantees the happiness and equality of the newlywed couple post shaadi shenanigans? Something beyond obscene bills, which, by the way, will be largely paid off by the girl's family? Any real, memorable moments not tailored for the camera that will see the couple through on their journey of love?

Arguments in favour of extravagant weddings, especially for people whose paychecks can't afford them but an aching obsession compels them to, are sparse and for a large part of Indians, far-flung. Why then do so many women still dream of them?

Time To Relax The Obsession With Big Fat Indian Weddings?


We asked you about it here. The answers were vibrant and pertinent. One user wrote, "I want my own big fat company!! Not a wedding!!" Another user said, "The idea of "bachpan se har ladki ka sapna" has been romanticised by Bollywood. To seek validation. To show off. Honestly it has been made too big a deal of IMHO." A third response read, "I once told my mom that I don't want a big fat wedding I just want few family members without any drama then she said if we don't invite people, they may think that we are lack in money.

All of these hold some semblance of truth. As against financial independence and employment, a woman is conditioned from a young age to prepare to get "settled" and nurture a home her working husband will own one day. Parents of women, prominent stakeholders in their lives, impose the pressure of social acceptability on them. And then, a lot of those women who succumb to it, look at marriage as an inevitability. So then why not go out in a blaze of glory on the wedding day by going over the top with celebrations as compensation? they may be thinking.

Will big bills guarantee a happily-ever-after?

For parents who don't carry the Ambani surname, this pressure can often be double-edged. Where some give in to societal and familial pressures of overspending to preserve reputation, others find themselves buckling under their daughters' unrelenting demands of a Sabyasachi lehenga and palatial D-day arrangements.

Then there is our forever-glitzy, unreally sanitised entertainment world that has, over the years, developed expertise in peddling an illusion of perfect weddings and marriages through film and television. This is perhaps the biggest defaulter, telling women that a wedding without any show shaa is no wedding at all. So as long as impractical aspirations gift-wrapped through shows like Made in Heaven or films like Shaandaar titillate audiences, women will be fooled into overreaching for dreams they didn't have in the first place.

A video went viral, some weeks ago, of a dazzling wedding lit up with a firework show. The claim it carried of every girl wanting a "dream wedding" like that was immediately shut down by women with valid criticism and sharp humour. Besides the sweeping generalisation, the obvious environmental tragedy in the video did not go missed. An opinion on it here.

It's clear - not all women today are down with the idea of big fat Indian weddings. Neither does everyone dreams of a WWE-like fireworks entry nor do girls restrict themselves to traditional wedding ideas when so many low-fuss, eco-friendly alternatives are available. Court marriages, a quiet getaway, a close-knit holiday - the options are plenty, and very possible, as the pandemic with its quirky celebrations has shown.

The labels stacking all women under the same tag of lavish wedding enthusiasts, therefore, needs to go. And to the women who genuinely harbour that enthusiasm, well, what does one say except you know best?

Views expressed are the author's own. 


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