The great Indian wedding tamasha

Published: Dec 24, 2011, 10:25 IST | Rohan Joshi |

As a 28-year-old half-Gujarati (left half) man, I usually spend this part of the year miserable for reasons not involving the stock market.

As a 28-year-old half-Gujarati (left half) man, I usually spend this part of the year miserable for reasons not involving the stock market. This is wedding season, or as us unmarried Gujarati men call it "Oh sh*t". This is because we have to go to the weddings of other Gujarati people, who don't quite understand why a 28-year-old man is unmarried. You could have an as-financially-lucrative-as-Google humour website filled with photos of the horror-struck faces of Gujarati aunties when you tell them that you're not just unmarried, but voluntarily unmarried.

Exhibitionists: Indian weddings are seldom about the bride or groom
or anything they want. It's where the couple's family get to settle social
scores and show-off how well connected they are

Sure weddings are joyous occasions, and I feel nothing but happiness for the people whose big day it is (generator-van owners), and their families. But I've seldom been to an Indian wedding where anyone looks happy at all. Parents look like they're worried about upsetting "important" guests, unimportant guests look like they're throwing airs in the hope that someone will call them important, and after touching the feet of every single person in a six kilometre radius, the bride and groom look like they want to spend their honeymoon at the chiropractor's.

The problem with most weddings I'm dragged to during this season is this: my presence there, like most of the other  4,300 guests, is irrelevant and unnecessary. I met the groom once, when I was six, and I'm pretty certain he was the fat fool that pulled the head off my He-Man figure. And yet, here I am, waiting in line so I can get a picture with him, when all I really want to do is set his wife on fire in revenge. If that sounds extreme to you, then you have clearly never owned a He-Man figure.

The point, and the problem, is this; the Indian wedding is seldom about the bride or groom or anything they want. No, the wedding is where the family gets to settle social scores and show off how well-connected and wealthy it is by inviting every single person they have ever interacted with. Indian weddings are the only ones I've ever been to where the parents have to stand on either side of the couple, and explain to them who the people coming up to meet them are. "This is Raju Uncle, he used to be our neighbour."

"This is Meeta aunty, she was in school with your mother." "This is Raju, I think he's supposed to be at the other reception that's happening in the next field, but I don't have the heart to tell him that. Raju beta, khaake zaroor jaana."

Speaking of which, for a country that harps on about food security, the spread at Indian weddings would make the average American cringe. I once went to a wedding that had separate South Indian, Italian, Marwadi, Chinese, chaat, and (I quote) Maxicen counters. It was quite the cultural education for me, because I never knew the Maxicens had a fondness for ghee. Or "paneer chimichangas."

Weddings are also an important networking opportunity for the Matrimonial Mommy Mafia, the group of bored mothers that knows every eligible single person in town. They scope these weddings like snipers in diamond-sets, and when they find you, they ask if you're married. Pro-tip; always say yes.

If you say no, you are suggesting that you are single, and by extension, incomplete. They will go looking for your mother, and then ask her why you're not married. I usually avoid this situation by telling them what I do for a living. When they realise I'm not a "bijnessman", they stare at me like I have a tumour on my forehead and then slowly back away. Works every time.

So all I'm saying is, can we please stop with the ten-thousand-invitee weddings? If for nothing, just for the traffic and noise-pollution levels. I don't want to send evil vibes your way from the road for 45 minutes, because that's how long I'm stuck outside the venue. 

But enough of my cribbing. This is a joyous time. I wish everyone getting married this season the very best for the rest of their lives. Except the jerk that broke my He-Man toy.

Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo

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