TWO WEDDINGS: THEN AND NOW
For the past three weeks the media bombarded the ordinary mortals with news of the going on between two film artists from the Mumbai film industry, with details of their plans to get married.
In one case it was Deepika Padukone and her partner Ranveer Singh telling us through third parties on how they will go through the rituals, what is being prepared as place for their marriage ceremony, what will Padukone wear etc. The first disappointment for her fans, was the news that this power couple will get married in some woe begone lake side resort in Italy.
The second couple to announce their wedding was Priyanka Chopra and her boy friend Nicole Jonas. Most of us in India above the age of thirty, had not heard of this person and we were not the only persons. The better part of the artist’s population in Mumbai had also not heard of this young man aged 25 years. There seems to be no Khandaan background to Nicole Jonas. If this did not worry the Chopras, it would worry us less, least of course was the 36 years old Indian maid getting married to a 25 years old ex-student.
In the case of Ranveer-Padukone wedding, the first rituals were performed according to Sindhi- Gurudwara traditions followed by Hindu-Karnataki traditions in Bangalore.
In the case of Chopra- Jonas affair, the first wedding rituals were Indian traditionals in Jodhpur, followed by a Christian wedding . Priyanka Chopra abandoned her Hindu-Sikh faith for this wedding ceremony. Mercifully this did not involve a change in her name. She only became Mrs Jonas, a Roman Catholic.
The happiest people involved in these events have been the PROs of the four artists in their own realm, the tailors who stitched the dresses for the four person in marriage, the event managers specially the wedding experts, and the flower decorators. Finally after about three months, those in the Income Tax department will be left smiling. They will send out notices to the two power couples to declare the complete account of expenses of their wedding ceremonies with documents. Then the blame game will also begin as the couple will plead they never ordered many of the things which showed up in the numerous pictures taken of the ceremonies. To us the whole thing will look like a big weekend release of a film and then the Monday flop shows.
Away from the world of film artists with big bags of money, is also a third wedding of splurge. This is the Piramal-Ambani kids who got married, some say in style. The news take away from the Ambani affair was along expected lines with more than 100 Merc cars at call for the guests, Udaipur airport opening a separate customs counter, Vistara airline diverting its planes off route to themselves for ferrying the guests including Hillary Clinton, and rooms and hotels block booked for a week. All this will show up in the annual Balance Sheet of the many hospitality businesses in the area.
Something was different in the star weddings.
The stars disallowed the press to cover their affairs. The wedding pictures were offered to news agencies for a price per picture. This was specially in the case of Priyanka Chopra. This arrangement did not pay off. They made no big money out of the affair. Bollywood has a long tradition of being fed with pictures and handouts from the stars themselves, or they are ignored. The Chopra-Jonas wedding was treated with some amount of disdain. Perhaps that is a curtain down for Chopra in India. She has two options for her future. Stay married and create a couple of American citizens and retire, or get a divorce and come back to play character roles. Four decades ago Rajshree did the first suggested line. She married a New York American, Greg Chapman, and literally disappeared into thin air. The lone exception is Madhuri Dixit who married an Indian American, had her babies and returned to India for some work.
But here we are talking of ‘star’ weddings.
The contrast to the latest splash also exists. Consider the matter of Amitabh Bachchan getting married.
He , one morning phoned his friends, named in a short list, to come over and see him getting married to his sweetheart, Jaya Bhaduri of Bhopal fame. Some of Bachchan’s friends were still in stupor of last night’s binge held in town, but they made a beeline to the Bachchan pad to bless the couple. The VIP was the priest. A small lunch followed. No fairy lights at the pad and no gana-bajana. The couple flew to Delhi for receiving the blessing of Indira Gandhi and the senior Bachchans. Now that is what we call a Hindu wedding.
What we wish to suggest is why do we need to splash a wedding with so much display of filthy cash and extravagance. I remember the Laxmi Mittal-Bhatia children’s wedding held in Paris a decade ago which allegedly ended in a possible divorce. Bombay Stars were shipped out to France to give performances before the guests.
The two extravaganzas which we are currently mentioning also missed on a Hindu tradition of donating some of their joyous wealth to the poor or offer financial help to the poor young who can ill afford getting married because of shortage in meeting the minimum expenses.
Getting married in India can be most convenient for Hindus. The community recognizes many forms of ceremonies. The least expensive is the Gandharva vivah where the couple exchanges garlands and vows to stick together; Raja Dushyant and Shakuntala did it to bring a son on whom this nation of ours is named; India, and Hindustan are words which the foreigners gave to this land. Ours is pure local ‘Bharat’ which we do not use, but the Pakistanis honour us thus.
Getting married before a fire havan and in the presence of the parents is considered most appropriate, but the US Govt does not recognize this form of Hindu marriage. So the court registered marriage is the way out. Despite all the big splash in San Fransisco, Jodhpur and Udaipur of what we read, finally it will be the dusty court where all will go and sign, that they are married . In this case, their marriage will not be to cherish each other as long as they live, but as long as it is convenient!!