When it comes to the Indian ‘culture’, weddings are a big deal - both financially and emotionally. As cliche as it sounds, Indian weddings are not just about the bride and the groom. Entire families tend to get involved in the process, planning begins months in advance, and more often than not, it’s a grand affair.
But for most Indians right now, the wedding that earlier gave them a sense of purpose and assurance has now transformed into an unexpected impediment. With the entire country in lockdown, following the coronavirus outbreak, Indian couples have had to take a step back. Their joyful summer weddings are now looking a lot more wintery and frigid, with little sight of what really awaits them.
An Unexpected Delay
Just before the first lockdown was declared, 27-year-old Srishti Saxena from Pune was all set to get married to her fiance Rajeev. The venue had been finalised, vendors had been paid, the wedding date was out but alas, things didn’t go as planned. “We realised we had to postpone the wedding as soon as the lockdown happened. Obviously, I was very sad. I had been looking forward to this day for the past 5-6 years,” Srishti tells The Quint.
While rescheduling wedding plans did not pose much of a challenge for Srishti, Mumbai-based Megha Jaiswal had a very different experience. When the lockdown was put into effect, Megha realised the precariousness of the situation. “We called up people we had made bookings with, asking them to cancel, but they refused. So we had no choice but to reschedule,” she says.
Unprecedented Times Call for Unprecedented Solutions
However, not all couples surrendered to the situation at hand. For Mumbai’s Preet and Delhi’s Neet, matrimony trumped everything else. With no clarity on when the pandemic would subside, the couple decided to go for a virtual wedding instead! In the presence of all their family members on a Zoom call, Preet and Neet “accepted each other as life partners.” This was followed by a round of virtual congratulatory speeches and some dancing. “There’s never been a ceremony conducted in this manner before so we actually had no guidelines to follow,” Neet admits.
Is a Virtual Wedding Enough?
Customs and traditions have always been at the heart of a typical big fat Indian wedding. Desi weddings have always been a sentimental affair and no one’s denying that. Even Preet and Neet, who enthusiastically opted for a virtual celebration to keep their lives on track, are looking forward to a real-life Gurudwara wedding post lockdown.
Srishti, on the other hand, is completely against the idea. She’d rather wait for another 6 months than do it the virtual way.
“A big no to virtual wedding because I am a single child and me and my parents have big dreams regarding how my wedding is supposed to be.”Srishti Saxena
Uncertainty Looms Large Over Desi Couples
Even as 3 May draws closer, these couples are still unsure about when they’ll finally be able to go forward with their elaborate wedding plans. Most of them have a tentative date in mind but aren’t sure of how things will pan out in the near future. Like the rest of the country and the world, they too find themselves engulfed in unpredictability.
However, even if India were to start lifting the lockdown in the near future, these couples still have other factors to consider. For Indore-based Sakshi Bansal, it’s imperative that her sister-in-law, who currently lives in Singapore, be a part of her wedding celebration. Srishti’s wedding guest list too includes relatives travelling from abroad. Both Sakshi and Srishti have decided to tie the knot only after India’s skies are, once again, open for international travel.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that India’s billion-dollar wedding industry is experiencing a shocking slump. While some can afford to bear the financial setbacks, others feel helpless as their savings, which they could have utilised for other purposes, are currently trapped. There’s fear, there’s confusion, there’s uncertainty... but there’s a little bit of hope too.