Now, weddings undergo a socially-responsible makeover

Shreya Siddharth smiles when she hears the word ‘ECR ponnu’. “I have never heard that term,” says the recently-married architect.

But it is to East Coast Road that she owes a lot, having spent most of her childhood in its whereabouts. When she was getting married, she had to ensure that the neighbourhood was celebrated as well.

Not only was the chosen venue a star hotel on the road, but the guests to the wedding were sent polite requests to contribute generously to another ECR institution that Shreya is personally involved with: the Crocodile Bank.

A few Indian weddings might be getting even more extravagant by the day, but Chennai’s couples are also opting for a socially-responsible makeover. These days, the causes do not read just ‘charity’. They are getting more specific.

Like Shreya did with the Crocodile Bank, an institution she has personally worked with. “Back then, I was mulling about how to redo the entrance and how to make access to the property more efficient. At that time, I realised the amazing work they had done with respect to crocodiles, and wanted guests for my wedding to appreciate and contribute to that as well,” she says. The Shreya-Siddharth wedding registry had other household items, but the post on the Crocodile Bank alone fetched them more than ₹30,000, which has now been invested into the Bank’s programme for crocodiles.

Like Shreya, 28-year-old Abhijit Sinha, an engineer by education, had his priorities clear with respect to gifting when he got married recently. Guests to his wedding received a wishlist that urged them to contribute to Project Defy. “It was a pretty obvious choice since it was an organisation I started in 2014,” says Abhijit, about the initiative that creates “learning spaces without teachers” and encourages people to design their own education.

Abhijit’s wedding to Answer, a Zimbabwe-based girl who had similar ideals in the social developmental space, had all things multi-cultural: a Hindu and Christian wedding with elements of Africa thrown in. They got a lot of material gifts, but the money that came in for Project Defy came primarily because the guests were convinced of the veracity of the charity. “Most of our friends know that we run this, and were pretty certain that their money would be used for the right cause.”

This has been a trend for a while — singer Chinmayi, for instance, urged all her guests at her wedding five years ago to donate to the 17000 ft Foundation — but it has only grown stronger. More couples are taking the leap towards such socially-responsible gifting ideas, and Chennai is “far ahead of other cities in that context”, feels Kanika Subbiah, founder, “Couples are saying, ‘I don’t want to waste’, and they are saying it louder and louder,” she says, “And guests, in turn, are saying, ‘thanks for making my life easy’.”

Kanika’s website — which aims to bridge the gap between gifts received and gifts desired — has many couples’ registries listed, and ones that are increasingly opting to go with lists that marry actual gifts and charity. “When couples make the effort of explaining the cause and why they are associated with it, rather than just saying ‘charity’ or ‘donation’, guests tend to become more interested in giving,” she says. While most include such specific causes, there has been an instance of a registry that was just about causes — one such for a cancer trust resulted in about ₹4 lakhs. “All this goes a long way in ensuring that the wedding is a waste-free celebration.”

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 4:17:05 AM |

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