Covid-19 has decisively shrunk the big fat Indian shaadi. Many couples have postponed their weddings, or limited the event to a few loved ones. Even celebrity events are now muted affairs. ‘Bhallaladeva’ Rana Daggubati and Miheeka Bajaj recently had a rather simple ‘roka’ without crowds. It is refreshing to see a couple affirm their commitment to each other simply. Could it make weddings somehow sweeter and purer?
Our wedding industrial complex has grown in recent decades. What used to be a homemade production has been handed over to different professional departments – the decor, the food, the primping, the pictures and videos. The event has bloated, in its attempt to become the ‘one perfect day’. Maybe it became more fun for the guests and more expensive for the hosts. It also acquired a vaguely inauthentic feel – there are sangeets and lehengas in south Indian weddings, there are bridal showers and bachelor parties. And without being a killjoy, it’s worth wondering how much extra happiness these spectacular shows brought to the bride and groom, and whether the blowout shaadi was the best way for their parents to express love.
Many of those who wanted to reform Indian society also expressed it through stripped down weddings, cutting out the rituals. But now, minimalism has been forced upon couples and families in this pandemic and lockdown. How the shaadi rears back after Covid is over will have much to say about the social and economic change that this crisis has wrought.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.