Demonetisation and industrial woes

Not so happily ever after

Weddings bring families together in celebration, with months of planning and joyful anticipation. And the cooler months see many families looking forward to these special occasions. They are also a source of earnings for a variety of professions, from the humblest labourer to the in-demand wedding planner putting together theme weddings for the rich and famous.

The government’s demonetisation decision has caused much heartburn. The Thursday announcement by Economic Affairs Secretary Shantikanta Das that withdrawals up to Rs 2.5 lakh cash would be permitted for a wedding, by either family of the bride or the groom, did not provide much actual relief. (See box for the laest RBI guidelines.)

Pune resident Saroj Lalwani told The Hindu that not only has her nephew Yatish’s upcoming wedding plans been thrown into disarray, it had affected her sister’s (his mother’s) health: the lady was traumatised. Ms. Lalwani says the family had collected cash for all the payments, but all those notes were now valueless. When she went to the bank to withdraw some funds, she could only get Rs. 4,000. The family has cancelled hotel bookings and orders of sweets and gifts.

For those with wedding dates approaching in the near future, panic is setting in. “I am getting married on of December 5,” says Vipul Sahu from Kandivali, “and I am facing a tough time going to banks for withdrawing the money. I am the lone person in my family taking care of everything.” Instead of being able to work in the arrangements for his guests and other wedding preparations, he is spending time in queues, The EA secretary’s announcement has provided little respite. Mr. Sahu says he heard that if one were to show a wedding invitation at one’s bank, a larger withdrawal would be permitted, but, he says, “bank managers are saying that they are waiting for RBI directives. Nothing is moving since demonetisation.”

For families, weddings are considered once-in-a-lifetime events, so distraught parents have no clue what to do. For them, there are the options — troublesome as they may be — of postponing the wedding to a less uncertain time, or scaling down or otherwise altering their plans. But for the ecosystem that depends on the wedding season for a spike in their earnings, there is no option to switch to.

The Hindu spoke to service providers around the city to find out how they were coping.

Wedding planner Raj Shah, owner of Exotic Wedding in Mumbai Central, said, “People have called off weddings, which has rendered us jobless. People want to cut down on celebrations due to the cash crunch, and business is down 80 per cent.” He said he had seen parents weeping as they cancelled planned celebrations.

“We used to accept payment in either cheque or cash, but we are now only accepting cheques,” says Suret Shetty, owner of Tulip Lawns in Malad, which is hired out for wedding receptions. He says that’s the only way they can keep paying the people who they work with regularly. “We regularly get a lot of enquiries, but now that has gone dry.”

“The whole market is affected,” says Shreyas Kitta, owner of the Anupam Decorators, Kandivali. “Business is down 80 per cent. Money coming in has stopped. We have outsourced labourers, we are paying them daily wages.” He says that while there are no new customers coming in, at least no one has cancelled any orders so far.

Arshid Bhimji, a wedding photographer who runs True Shades Photography in Andheri (West), is relieved that clients haven’t cancelled their orders when he insists on cheque payments, even though some of them tried to insist. “Some are paying us in instalments,” he says. He has a team of five, and is hard-pressed to find ways to pay their travel expenses.

Ashok Bhambri who runs Ashok Band, which provides the marching bands which accompany baraats,and operates out of Sion Koliwada has seen business almost halve, and he’s worried. “Some customers are yet to pay us,” he says, “and they are asking for 10 to 15 days more to settle their bills. We cannot pay our people who are outsourced. They are going hungry.”

“Our industry has been hit hard,” says Trupti Shah who runs Shaadi Sangeet in Mumbai Central, which specialises in organising the pre-wedding sangeet events. “People are giving priority to the wedding; sangeet is secondary.” She says her business is down by 80 per cent with many cancellations, especially when she insists in cheque payments. She is worried about not getting paid at all, since payments are usually made after the event.

“My business has dropped 40 per cent,” says Aniket Gupta of Basu Tailors, which operates out of Ghatkopar and Sion. “People are paying us, but by cheque. And when we go to the bank to fetch change, they are only providing us with Rs. 2,000 notes instead of the 20, 50, 100 notes we need.” He says he has now signed up for Paytm, and hopes that

will help.

Ruchi Jalan, who runs Baghban Florist in Lower Parel, says that the first few days after the announcement, were very tense for her, as business slowed. “But now everything is fine. We get paid by bank transfer, cheques and credit cards, so it’s okay.”

“Our business has declined 40 per cent,” says Annie Chen, owner of the Chen Salon at Marine Lines. “There are now lots of wedding-related appointments being cancelled. The government is not realistic. Rs. 2.5 lakh cannot cover wedding

expenses.”

The writer is an intern at The Hindu

Service                                                      Low end (₹)       High end (₹)

Priest’s fee                                                       5,000                     1,00,000

Brass band                                                        5,000                         20,000

DJ                                                                       10,000               5,00,00,000

Bride & groom’s clothes                       1,00,000                   50,00,000

Hairdresser                                                      1,500                         25,000 

Decorations                                                   50,000               2,00,00,000

Car Hire                                                           50,000                     5,00,000

Hotel/Resort venue                                   50,000               1,00,00,000

Catering                                                          25,000                   10,00,000

Gifts to guests                                              50,000               1,00,00,000

Photographers                                             10,000                     5,00,000

Videographers                                             50,000                     5,00,000

Sourced from various wedding planning web sites and conversations with service providers. All costs indicative; there will be huge variations depending on the number of guests.


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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 7:50:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/Not-so-happily-ever-after/article16674685.ece

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