Sindhi Weddings are getting more extravagant by the day. There is no chance left to make every function Grand and Lavish. Money flows like water. But is it worth it?
The earliest memories of a Sindhi Marriage function that I have is that the food was served in the afternoon i.e. it was always Lunch and never dinner. It was a very simple affair. The food was served on Patal (dried broad leaves of Sal or Banyan tree and stitched with tiny wooden sticks.)
There were limited items on the menu. The food was served by the family members and guests sat on the floor on a Coir Mat. Somewhat like the Langars are served.
The food was prepared on wood fire by experienced Chefs called Randho in Sindhi. Bhee Patata and chole were the main dishes served along with Bhugal Chawal. Matho or Boondi Raita was a permanent fixture of Sindhi Marriage food. Sweet Dish was either Sweet Boondi or Jalebi. Non veg was never served.
After the Lunch, everyone went home. In the evening, there was the main function of the Wedding or Vedi. Just after the Vedi and wedding rituals ended Reception started. Interestingly, only a single item was served at the reception. It was either Ice Cream or Cold Drinks. I always wonder why both were not served. I also wonder how people managed to have Dinner after returning from the Marriage. All in all, a Sindhi Marriage was a sweet and simple affair.
Another notable thing about the Sindhi Wedding was that there was no 'No Chandla' i.e. it was almost mandatory for the guests to give some gift to the newlywed couple. If not a gift, then an envelope with some money was the norm. This way everyone contributed to the marriage expenses and blessed the couple not only with the blessings but with some financial support. Because of simple functions and gifts from the guests, the marriage was not a big financial burden on either the Bride's or the Groom's Family.
It was almost mandatory for the guests to give some gift to the newlywed couple. If not a gift, then an envelope with some money was the norm.
Over time, things changed, and marriages became more and more expensive and extravagant. Being a competitive lot, Sindhis started organizing ultra-expensive, lavish marriages. The items in the menu increased manyfold and the functions multiplied.
Bachelor Party, Spinster Party, Mehandi Party, Jagrata, DJ Night, and whatnot. All these functions were gradually added to a Sindhi marriage. The guest list for the reception also swelled with some people inviting around a thousand guests for the wedding reception.
Presently, there are more than 50 food items on the menu in a single Function, and there are multiple functions of this kind in a single marriage. In each function, the food cost alone is more than Rs1500-2000 per person. One can only imagine how much Sindhis are spending on these functions.
In each function, the food cost alone is more than Rs1500-2000 per person.
The scale of spending is only rising, inspired by movies and aping each other, many Sindhis are now organizing Destination Weddings at Five Star Hotels. Goa and Jaipur are the favorites for destination weddings. A destination wedding costs a fortune. I have heard that the average cost for a destination wedding is around One Crore Rupees.
Extravagance has become synonymous with a Sindhi Marriage. It has become a norm for Sindhis to spend a fortune on Marriage functions. Everyone is trying to outdo each other in spending more. It's almost like a Competitive event and every Sindhi is trying to get ahead of others in spending more.
Marriage is a meeting of the souls. And, it appears that the Sindhis want this meeting to be Grand and Spectacular. They want everyone to talk about their marriage. Even Sindhi youngsters want their wedding day to be Luxurious and outstanding and want to outdo their friends.
I don't think it would have made any difference but still, giving 'Gifts' or 'Lifafa' has also stopped. So there is only spending and spending when it comes to a Sindhi Marriage. These Gifts were like small financial support to the family. But no one wants this support anymore. Everyone wants only 'Show Off'. Now the words 'Blessings Only' are boldly written on every wedding Invitation Card.
Coming to the Wedding Invitation Cards, the wedding which was a simple Card with lord Ganesha's picture has also become a Big Thing. As mentioned earlier, Sindhis are a competitive lot and they like to show off and outdo others. Everyone is trying to make the Wedding Invitation Card more impressive (And Expensive). A few days ago we received an Invitioan card with an Imported Scotch Bottle inside that must have cost around Rs.5000 per bottle, and there were many other goodies inside.
A few days ago we received an Invitioan card with an Imported Scotch Bottle inside that must have cost around Rs.5000 per bottle, and there were many other goodies inside.
There is no limit to this reckless spending on marriages, people are now appointing wedding planners for marriages. These wedding planners suggest the latest ways of making the marriage even more memorable (and more expensive). The latest trend is the 'Pre Wedding Photoshoot'. In this Photoshoot, the couple are taken to an exotic location, and a Mini Movie or Documentary is made on them. Everyone from the couple's Friends and Family is asked about the couple and they say all the sweet things about the couple and everything is recorded in the form of a Movie. This gives everyone a chance to become a part of the film and be happy (Wedding Planners are the happiest). This Pre-Wedding Photoshoot alone costs around 2 Lac Rupees
All in all, marriage is not the sweet and simple affair it used to be. Sindhis leave no chance to spend on the Marriage. Marriage has become a costly affair. Today, a marriage can break the backbone of a family.
The Pre-Wedding Photoshoot alone costs around 2 Lac Rupees
I am not against a lavish marriage. I am against the social pressure this creates on others to participate in this endless competition where everyone must Show Off. Here, I would like to tell the story of Mahesh. Mahesh is a nice Sindhi young man. He is the sole breadwinner in the family. After working for many years in a garment factory Mahesh started a small garment manufacturing unit 3 years ago. His business was doing okay and he had made some savings. He had also purchased a flat on a home loan.
He recently got married. Looking at the Extravagant Marriages among Sindhis, Mahesh was also under pressure to organize Multiple Lavish Marriage Functions. He surrendered to social pressure to organize a lavish wedding and spent recklessly on organizing multiple marriage functions, he even invited more guests than required just to prove that he was also capable of spending just like others.
He had savings but that was not enough for all these expenses. So, unfortunately, he took loans from the market and spent. Mahesh spent more on marriage than he was capable of. Everyone enjoyed the marriage and went home.
However, Mahesh started feeling the effect of the marriage expenses 2-3 months after the marriage. He now had more responsibilities. He had to run his home and business in addition to the repayment of loans and interest on loans taken for marriage. He somehow managed all this for a few months but then was unable to carry on. He even asked for help from the very people who attended his marriage but no one came forward to help.
Finally, he had to close the business and take a job. He also sold the flat he had bought. He then realized that people are with you in good times but they disappear when you are in trouble. And that he spent huge amounts on marriage just to impress these same people. This is not the case with Mahesh alone, I have seen even rich people delaying payments in the business after marriage in the family.
I am not saying that reckless spending on the marriage was solely responsible for Mahesh's problems but in the current social atmosphere, there is unnecessary pressure on Sindhi people to show off and compete with fellow Sindhis. Sindhis must stop this evil phenomenon of unnecessary spending on Lavish Weddings. After all, a marriage is a meeting of souls and it doesn't have to be so loud and flashy. Above all, there should be no social pressure on people like Mahesh.
Things will change only if wise people from the society take initiative. Recently, I read on Facebook that the Sindhi Panchayat of Ajmer has issued a directive to limit the number of food items in Sindhi Marriages to Six. If they serve more than that the guests will not eat food. This is a great start to curb this menace of overspending.
Sindhis who have more than they need can help others from the community who are poor. They can help by organizing the marriage of Sindhi Daughters from Needy Families. This way, they will get much more satisfaction, blessings, and a name in society.
I hope the Sindhi Community wakes up someday.