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The Bride From Kerala Who Refused To Be Gold Plated

Posted: July 8, 2014

This is the story of Elizabeth Chandy, a young woman from Kerala who decided to defy the pressure to wear inordinate amounts of gold on your wedding day.

If you happen to watch any popular Malayalam TV channel, the top two contenders for advertising space are umbrellas and gold – with gold ruling the roost. What initially started as a means of investment has taken some serious escalation in terms of how much gold a bride wears on her special day.

With constant egging on by the gold jewelers who have become conglomerates in their own right, the amount of gold one expects a Malayalee bride to wear has reached ridiculous heights. As a result gold smuggling into Kerala is at an all-time high.

What used to be a gold necklace and a chain with matching jimkis that the bride wore for her wedding day in my grandmother’s time has mushroomed into gold chains up to the bride’s knees and bangles up till her elbows. Jewelers take undue advantage of the malleability of gold to flatten it into sheet-like ugly jewelry in order to cover more surface area on the bride thus giving the illusion of having gold plated the ‘poor’ girl.

Who benefits from the gold craze which leads to shops overflowing even on days when gold prices hit an all-time high? Is it the bride who gets to keep all this jewelry and can use it for buying a house in her name or for the education of her future kids? Or does it go as unadulterated dowry to the proud man who is tugging along the sudden windfall of money he got i.e the bride?

Whoever benefits from the obnoxious craze, it’s definitely not the bride’s family who more often than not end up with bankruptcy in their bid to gold plate their daughter.

Elizabeth with her husband on the day of the wedding

Elizabeth with her husband on the day of the wedding

Does it pump up the image of the bride’s family who can show their mettle in front of relatives and such? Or is it solely for the benefit of the invitees who can ooh and aah at the amount or lack of gold that the bride wore? Whoever benefits from the obnoxious craze, it’s definitely not the bride’s family who more often than not end up with bankruptcy in their bid to gold plate their daughter.

One shining example of a woman who went against the norm is Elizabeth Chandy. She refused to wear and showcase the money her family or she has at her wedding. The focal point of a wedding shouldn’t be the gold the groom managed to extract from the bride anyway.

Getting inspired by coconut shell jewelry that she saw in the Andamans, she decided that coconut shell is the way to go. She found a jeweler in Thrissur, Kerala who made beautiful pieces out of coconut shell. She got further convinced after meeting the jeweler when he spoke of how jewelry made out of coconuts pose no health hazards to the workman unlike the harm gold does. He also spoke of how people in Kerala should look at alternate material for jewelry and how coconut shell was a very versatile material that needed no polish for it to shine.

Elizabeth is not against gold jewelry but against the principle of plying the bride with gold to a point that it becomes obnoxious. Jewelry is meant to add beauty to the person wearing it and not engulf the person whole. The bridal jewelry is not a means to show off one’s wealth and she refused to be party to the trend.

With the support of her now husband Anthony Chandy and family she was a proud and regal bride who is a trend setter in her own right. Her wedding dress was the traditional mundu which she wore in a contemporary style with simple coconut shell jewelry. The girl born on world coconut day transformed into a beautiful bride.

I admire her courage and style since being from Kerala, I know the ire she must have encountered from a society that shames itself for not being able to provide copious amounts of gold to the bride and in some cases to the mother-in-law. If investment is the idea behind giving gold, then gold isn’t the only profitable means of investment. Silver appreciates much more than gold and is considered good investment. There are fixed deposits, life insurance schemes, mutual funds and land among others.

Brides-to-be, please take note – jewelry in the right amount and complimenting your dress looks good. Anything that is over done just looks plain ugly, even gold.

Pics courtesy Elizabeth Chandy

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  1. Bravo woman. I really appreciate this great change. It is not as easy as it seems. I have my own example in a recent incident. I went for a marriage, and I did not want to look grand and bedecked with jewellery in the sweltering weather. I chose a simple but pleasant salwar kameez with a lovely dupatta and wore imitation stone ear rings. Believe me or not, I was the cynosure of all eyes. Though some eyes ridiculed me, some looked at me awe at the courage and some criticised me.
    By the end of the entire function, one woman came and told me, ‘wish I was allowed to wear such easy to carry simple costume’…..but do we need wait for others to ALLOW or should we start doing it irrespective of whatever we may have to face?!

    • Attagirl! I wish more follow her footsteps. Gold-huger has reached ridiculous levels in the state. Time to put a stop to this useless practice.

    • @Human, My reply to you and the comment to the post got mixed up. Vagaries of the net. To you I wanted to say I hear some of what you experience. I attend weddings in a simple enough salwar-kameez with no extra jewelry .The last time I did that, two of my friends kept repeating that they wished they could follow the example as the humidity was killing them in their elaborate get-ups. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your views. Small changes made by a few, to begin with, will make big ones in due course, right?!

  2. True…. Decking up is pretty but after a point it becomes impractical, ridiculous even. If you google Kerala gold mines or Kerala brides you will see my point. I used to think that they are just a few cases but the bridal photo wall at the beauty parlor that dressed me up for my wedding gave me a jolt!

  3. Great News!! We studied changes are necessity in nature and surroundings. We are witnessed on this several time from reel life to real life and from particular person to particular gadgets. Sometimes in our self we find many changes because things causing problems in our development. But I didn’t get what happen when some conservative thoughts and stereotype demeanor things causing problems in our society development or in particular upliftment. Good girl many congratulation for your marriage and focusing & trying to finish those “useless preconceived ideas”. And good work womensweb.in keep lighting on the things which are lighting the society.

  4. A woman as gorgeous as Elizabeth needs no jewelery 🙂
    That said, not just Kerala, but other South Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra too have a ridiculous trend of gold plating 🙁
    After much persuasion, I agreed to wear one gold set at my wedding. After that, the neighbours asked my mom that since they gave so little gold to me, did they(my parents) gift their new son-in-law a plot/apartment or a car?! 🙄
    The answer, by the way, is none of the above. I’m proud to say that my in-laws are against dowry and refused to accept anything.
    My parents in turn, didn’t give anything 🙂
    And we all live happily ever after 🙂

  5. mallufor truth -

    no pun intended ! Girl , you ypur gold anyway, right, eventhough you didn’t deck it up? You might think i do not deserve an answer, but a real truthful answer will clear up a lot of negativity. You do realize the impact and importance of this great public gesture of your experience.

  6. So, what will the million rupee gold industry do?? Will all those people lose job ??

    • No they won’t. Gold is not only for the bride, her family..aunts..grannies..friends..babies..men wear some form of gold or the other. That a bride has to be the savior of an industry is ridiculous. She wants to look pretty on her wedding day not like a mummy encased in gold. I think the industry will do just fine.

  7. KUDOS – Ur a Brave girl

  8. You are really lucky to have found a family that respects your decision. Often that’s not the case, most of the time the women who try something similar are taunted day and night by in-laws and relatives.

  9. That’s true Liz. The idea is that if there are more examples, then it will be easier for future brides. Thanks for commenting.

    • mallufor truth -

      I do applaud you not conforming with the tradition. But any family these days will go along with this style of marriage as long as the brides family assures the bridegroom’s family with the inherited share. Keep in mind, the daughters have equal rights to the parent’s property. So relinquishing the gold on wedding day is just a matter of style. deny this if you dare!!!

    • mallufor truth -

      So you do agree with the fact that this not against securing gold/ dowry , but relieving the social pressure of bejewelling the bride on wedding day. You got your gold anyway right? Deny it if you dare!!!
      The real revolution will be when the daughters get the equal share without pressure as they are entitled and the in-laws will not have to and be able to put pressure on the bride or the brides family to cough up the exorbitant dowry. Marriage should be between the souls and the families will be the support structure which forms the foundation of the family , which is marriage is meant for. Anyone disagrees?

    • True change is when individuals male or female don’t care about what their parents have earned or inherited and work towards making their own assets. I never got married to prove anything to anyone. I visualized my wedding but my friends, family and talented professionals made it happen. Freedom of choice without burdening anyone. Given a chance to get married again I would probably just drop by at the registrars office on my way to work and get it registered as one of my friends did.

    • You are a strong young lady to take that step, dear bride Elizabeth. You are your groom make a lovely, handsome couple. God Bless. Happy Married Life!

    • Atleast this is a start, we need to applaud Liz for what she did.

    • And writers and the media making her out to be revolutionary doesn’t help the cause. Think about what you are glamorizing – choice of wedding wear is not a significant enough to be highlighted as a ground breaking social issue. A person standing up to rebels not allowing girls to get an education – that’s a hero

  10. we as a society want to always ridicule others who follow something, it has started from wearing gold jewelry to religion to everything… just that you have an opinion that doesn’t mean everyone should follow it… some might really enjoy wearing jewelry.. some might not. I am all up for wearing something comfortable… but dont just ridicule everyone or dont call her trend setter, there are definitely others ways of showing off, pretty sure her saree costs 2lakhs. Leave your superiorty complex for a minute accept people for what they are..

  11. That is a good point Kasi. The idea is not to ridicule people who wear jewelry or deck up for their marriage. This stand is against the gold plating that girls in Kerala undergo, encouraging gold smuggling, hoarding, dowry and other problems. Lower income families take huge loans which puts them in debt or they lose their house repaying it. This societal pressure to give copious amounts of gold mostly demanded as dowry needs to be broken. Please google Kerala gold mines or a related term to see a few images of this gold craze.

  12. Respect! And I must say She makes a lovely bride. She is so beautiful needs no gold.

    Human and Shail – I know! I wonder why people put themselves through the torture of decking up in hot weather.

    Loved reading this post 🙂

  13. I was thinking i was the only one with these kind of view. Good to know there are other people who agree.

  14. Her husband was my colleague and good friend.. today they are parents to two beautiful kids… loved seeing this post here 🙂

  15. Bravo!! this message shud reach the bottom line People who r struggling to match up with the forced requirement of heavy gold ..for which they end up in loosing everything after the so called gold plated marriages.

  16. Elizabeth, cause you have a heart of gold you dont need the ornaments. You look beautiful in your traditional dress and we hope a lot of girls will be as daring as you are to go against the norm. Its only the current generation that can change the practices that are passed on fr generation to generation without actually seeing the necessity. Bravo girl you are a trendsetter

  17. An inspiration to the younger generation and set a good example to the society at large to reduce the burden of millions of families with daughters have no means to meet the demand of dowry. Let the boy and girl know each other for a period of time to decide to get married without any pressure and the marriage as a divine relationship should be registered in the presence of very close family members.

  18. There is an old Malayalam song which goes like this. Why does the sunset need sindoor? Why does the moon need cat’s eye, does the jungle stream needs anklet and so why does my beloved need jewelry?
    Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Gold plating may not enhance it

  19. Genius. Takes mettle 2 beat the metal. You go girl…..and others, grow up.

  20. Future looks good

  21. I wanted to do something similar – just a simple necklace and earrings. But I had to give in to the family and relatives’ pressure and wear multiple necklaces (though I managed to convince them to not deck myself with the plated look). Kudos to this girl. I know from personal experience that it must not have been easy.

    And the last time I attended a close relative’s wedding in minimalist attire, I was questioned a lot about my well-being. Looks like people mis-took it for money troubles 🙂

  22. Congrats for the Couple… May the ALMIGHTY bless them in Good health and happiness always.

  23. When the Parents wealth is shared to daughter it’s dowry ..When the Parents wealth is shared to their son, it’s hereditary property..

  24. Parent’s wealth – whatever is left, is shared equally to all the children at the end of their life time, it should not be used for negotiating your daughter’s marriage.

  25. I remember the Tirupati Ladoo King’s daughter.. there was not a single part of her body not adorned with gold and it looked so ugly. Hope more girls follow in your footsteps.

  26. Pingback: FASHION : Top 5 Alternatives To Gold For The Bride Of Today | Forever Magnifico

  27. Wow…..this is great! This should be shown in the tv serials and movies that women are humans and not show pieces!

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