“My eldest daughter's marriage is settled. The bridegroom is a software engineer,” told my friend. Instead of jubilation, anxiety was writ large on his face.

On hearing the word wedding, what automatically comes to our mind is a majestic mandap set up with floral décor, a well-designed welcome board tastefully decorated, hundreds of women clad in Kanchipuram silks and wearing dazzling diamonds, the bride and the groom at their best attire beautifying the centre. All the guests are entertained with a sumptuous lunch/dinner along with a gift item too.

Behind all this pomp and show are the sweat and blood of the bride's parents. Thirty years ago, marriages were less expensive even with dowry. Nowadays, the bridegroom's parents boast themselves of not demanding a rupee as dowry, but the element is concealed in the guise of extra jewels, furniture, vehicle, etc. With the soaring prices of gold and silver and the rising cost of all food items, expenses for a traditional wedding run to lakhs.

For an ordinary government employee/executive at the retirement age, after purchasing a two-room flat and educating two or three children, it is a huge burden to celebrate the wedding as per the norms. Not to talk of those who have more daughters and aged parents to look after.

A matter of prestige

Marriage celebration has become a matter of prestige. Elite and rich people set standards for the middle class to follow. The bridegroom's parents alone cannot be blamed for this. Many a time, the girls utilise the wedding as the opportunity to extract as much as possible from their parents. Instances are not uncommon where even a well-employed girl invests her entire earnings in a high-end flat and expects her middle class father to conduct the marriage in a manner deserving of her official status. Poor father has to mortgage the house, his only asset, to cope with the huge expenses. The mental agony sometimes leads him to the deathbed.

Unfortunate failure

Is such a gala wedding necessary at all at the cost of one's precious life? When are we going to realise that there are more vital issues than the gorgeous processions, mesmerising mehendi, petalled pathways, expensive interiors and extravagant dinners? Is everyone happy after the so-called enviable event? Even before the greenery of the festoons fades, arguments and counter-arguments over trivial issues creep in, resulting in unfortunate failure within a year.

Introspection

It is high time that young girls and boys gave serious thought to the ethics and values of the great institution of marriage and did some introspection on their social responsibility to maintain everlasting harmony notwithstanding certain struggles and conflicts normally associated with marriage. Marriage is no doubt a memorable event.

The event need not be a pomp and show marked by lavishness.

Even the regular rituals and celebrations in the presence of a limited number of guests will fill the ambience with festivity and make the occasion splendid, vibrant and colourful.

Brides and bridegrooms, insist on a simple wedding without any ostentation, although it is against the wishes of your parents. You are disregarding so many of their instructions. Let this be the most benevolent one.

(The writer's email is: vathsalaj@yahoo.com)

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