Marriage, Wedding, Vivaham, Shaadi, Byah. All these words bring out emotions from everyone. Yes. Mentioning ‘everyone’ is not a stretch here. The type of emotion may vary. It could unleash joy, sadness, hatred, ambivalence, excitement, anticipation, or confusion. However, one aspect never changes, the degree of emotion. Parents are either incredibly joyous or extremely sad, or both. Exes are not able to contain their hatred. Workaholics are depressingly ambivalent about it. Relatives are super excited at the prospect of great pomp and merry. As for the bride and groom, it is a whirlwind of anticipation and confusion, both extreme but in equal quantities. Why am I ranting about it? Well, I am marrying my college sweetheart this year!
My relationship with weddings has been great. I do enjoy dressing up, but the credit mostly goes to the dancing and food. Indian weddings happen in abundance and always serve great food because no one wants to leave any stone unturned for their special day. Also, it is an understated fact that the fun at weddings is reserved for the guests and not the bride and groom. So why do I love weddings? Well, I have never been the bride before, have I?
Lately, this relationship has metamorphosed. I have realized that out of the innumerable wasteful activities that we humans carry out, weddings are one of the worst. I will begin with the meals first. Indian weddings have at least 3-4 functions with a lot of guests in each. Meals are served buffet style and often with a lavish albeit unnecessary spread. With guests flying from all over the country or the world, the amount of carbon emissions that a wedding contributes to is significantly high. Decorations are renewed for every function and often contain a large volume of non-recyclable, non-reusable, and non-biodegradable materials. Lastly, let us discuss outfits. Every little ritual demands a new one, and reusing a perfect condition older piece seems simply unacceptable to the elders. Many are made with silk, thus holding the bride and groom responsible for the death of thousands of silkworms. Jewelry, a significant component of outfits, has so many ethical issues, especially the gross violation of human rights of miners who mine precious metals and stones. These areas are just a tiny subset of the Gargantua of problems that weddings birth.
Thus, when I decided to marry, I discussed with my fiancé and decided to do away with most of these. I decided to get court married and then have an intimate dinner party with fifty people tops. I chose to go for a simple cotton saree and heirloom jewelry. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous for our world, I believed it would help me achieve this minimalistic dream. Little did my naïve self know the journey that was coming my way.
The critical aspect that I had failed to account for was family expectations. While I had been concocting these simple plans from the day we decided to marry, my parents had been building grander hopes from the day I was born. Being the only child, they had focused almost all their energy on raising me and my wedding, according to them, was a culmination of that long voyage. Thus, when I shared my vision, a vision that I had been hinting at for years, their reaction was naturally concealed shock. It was “concealed” because they didn’t want to hurt me, and it was “shock” because it was an anti-thesis to everything they had imagined. It kickstarted the arduous journey of negotiation.
In the coming weeks, stay tuned to find out how I am navigating through the crests and troughs of my ‘sustainable wedding’ planning!