MP aims to trim budgets for Indian weddings

NEW DELHI • Extravagant Indian weddings in palaces featuring elephants, foreign dance troupes and seven-course meals could become a thing of the past if one politician fed up with the excess gets her way.

Rankled by the obscene sums splashed out on festivities, Ms Ranjeet Ranjan of the opposition Congress Party has proposed a Bill that would cap the entertainment budget and redirect extras to India's poor.

Life savings are poured into weddings in India, with price tags of up to US$75,000 (S$106,000) not uncommon for affluent urban families hosting thousands of guests for celebrations lasting days.

The new proposal might force some families to rethink the fireworks and chandeliers, with a requirement that weddings exceeding 500,000 rupees (S$10,600) contribute 10 per cent of the overall cost to poorer Indians for their own nuptials.

Ms Ranjan - who made headlines last year for riding a Harley Davidson to Parliament - said she was troubled by the pressure on her parents to spend big, having grown up with six sisters.

Opulent weddings in India are raising ire as families go bankrupt impressing others.
Opulent weddings in India are raising ire as families go bankrupt impressing others. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"I have seen people spend two million rupees just on dinner for wedding guests. People boast that we will serve 15 types of sweets brought from four states," she told Agence France-Presse yesterday.

"These days, marriages are more about showing off your wealth. Why should poor families be put under pressure to spend so much?"

Her private member's Bill has been listed for discussion when Parliament convenes on March 9, but such proposals must clear many hurdles to become law.

Opulent weddings attract intrigue and disgust in India, where poor families can bankrupt themselves trying to meet the expectations of relatives and friends.

A mining tycoon lavished US$75 million on his daughter's wedding in November even as India was reeling from a painful cash shortage caused by a ban on high-value banknotes.

The ostentatious affair, covered closely in the press, provoked outrage as banks ran out of cash and Indians struggled to pay for their basic needs.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2017, with the headline 'MP aims to trim budgets for Indian weddings'. Print Edition | Subscribe