Over the years, your support has made Women’s Web the leading resource for women in India. Now, it is our turn to ask, how can we make this even more useful for you? Please take our short 5 minute questionnaire – your feedback is important to us!
The Ambani wedding in December 2018 was an exercise in a vulgar display of wealth, and an opportunity that Mukesh and Nita Ambani lost to set a better example to Indians who look up to the rich and influential.
2018 saw India Inc.’s most expensive wedding.
With festivities spread over four months and three locations, the marriage of Isha Ambani, daughter of Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries, with Anand Piramal, scion of the Piramal Enterprises, has been estimated to have clocked an expenditure close to a whopping $100 million (Rs. 7,08,05,00,000/-).
The wedding invitation card alone was worth Rs. 3,00,000/- each, the most expensive invitation card in the history of Indian weddings. To set things in context, this amount is close what an average household of the Indian middle class earns, in an entire year.
The extravagance began with the couple’s engagement attended by more than 600 guests at the luxury Villa D’Este Hotel on Italy’s Lake Como, peppered with Singer John Legend’s private performance. This was followed by elaborate pre-wedding ceremonies at the luxurious Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel in the Indian city of Udaipur. 200 chartered flights to fly in over 2000 guests from the Udaipur airport, a fleet of luxury cars to ferry them within the city, and American pop sensation Beyonce’s private concert are a few highlights. 12th December saw the marriage at Ambani’s 27-storey Mumbai residence, Antilia, the second-most expensive private property after London’s Buckingham Palace.
Now that the elaborate fanfare is over, I’d like to paint an alternate scenario.
What if Ambani, being an influencer, the only Indian businessman on Forbes’ 2017 list of the world’s most powerful people, the man whose actions are seen and heard, and even emulated by millions in this country – made the ‘conscious choice’ to conduct the wedding with one simple and graceful ceremony? A wedding that displays austerity and purpose, actively discouraging garish opulence. A wedding that exercises restraint as opposed to the conservative ritual-heavy pomp and show exhibiting a grotesque spending spree.
Image source: Youtube
One can only imagine the transformational impact of such a choice in a country like India where marriage as an institution is treated as crucial to existence as inhaling oxygen. Parents live under inexplicable burden of incurring expenditure on their daughter’s wedding, way beyond their means. Families, cutting across socio-economic strata, are victims of the mindset that a big fat wedding is key to social acceptance. Sons are habituated to the practice of a range of deplorable social evils rooted in ostentatious ceremonies including the illegal demand for dowry (an amount of property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage), and bride-burning on non-fulfilment of such demand.
Let’s take the case of an average construction worker, slogging hard all his life, making a measly sum, up to $3 per day. On the threshold of debt and poverty, he saves bit by bit to collect enough booty for his daughter’s wedding. If he had seen an austere arrangement instead of the biggest and the fattest glimpses of the Ambani wedding, he’d have the courage to get up and shut all those taking mouths to say – “Look what Mukesh ‘bhai’ (brother) did. Look at what the richest man of India did. If such a ‘badaa aadmi’ (big man) can perform a simple wedding for his daughter, then why should I, an ‘aam aadmi’ (common man), spend foolishly on that one day? I’d rather give that money to my daughter to secure her future post marriage.”
And with that, Ambani could’ve truly become a ‘badaa aadmi’ (big man). Not by net worth, but by respect. A respect that is earned, not demanded. He could’ve set a personal example of progressive thinking and sensibility for millions of this country. He could’ve become the hero of forward-looking couples who, despite having a high spending capacity, are going against the grain, convincing their families to focus on the dignity of marriage instead of creating an irrational spectacle. He could’ve become a symbol of a new culture – choosing substance over extravagance. And a lot more.
What a colossal loss of opportunity.
I appreciate that the how and why of a daughter’s wedding is the family’s personal decision. However, when the father of the bride is a public figure and in a position to influence minds, he owes a degree of responsibility, sensitivity, and foresightedness to the common man.
Because while a public figure such as Ambani is not responsible for giving birth to such regressive mindsets, he is certainly responsible for reinforcing and propagating them.
India deserved better.
Anusha Singh, a disappointed daughter.
Image source: YouTube
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views. Individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times. If you have a complementary or differing point of view, sign up and start sharing your views too!
I am a corporate communications consultant, columnist, and former lawyer. I help organisations speak to their stakeholders effectively. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
He said that he needed sometime to himself. I waited for him as any other woman would have done, and I gave him his space, I didn't want to be the clingy one.
Trigger Warning: This deals with mental trauma and depression, and may be triggering for survivors.
I am someone who believes in honesty and trust, I trust people easily and I think most of the times this habit of mine turns into bane.
This is a story of how a matrimonial website service turned into a nightmare for me, already traumatized by the two relationships I’ve had. It’s a story for every woman who lives her life on the principles of honesty and trust.
And when she enters the bedroom, she sees her husband's towel lying on the bed, his underwear thrown about in their bathroom. She rolls her eyes, sighs and picks it up to put in the laundry bag.
Vasudha, age 28 – is an excellent dancer, writer, podcaster and a mandala artist. She is talented young woman, a go getter and wouldn’t bat an eyelid if she had to try anything new. She would go head on with it. Everyone knew Vasudha as this cheerful and pretty young lady.
Except when marriage changed everything she knew. Since she was always outdoors, whether for office or for travelling for her dance shows, Vasudha didn’t know how to cook well.
Going by her in-laws definition of cooking – she had to know how to cook any dishes they mentioned. Till then Vasudha didn’t know that learning to cook was similar to getting an educational qualification. As soon as she entered the household after her engagement, nobody was interested what she excelled at, everybody wanted to know – what dishes she knew how to cook.