Indian Marriage Economics

On a much deserved break from analyzing numbers and economies , the family and I headed out to a neighbour’s wedding. This is November , and peak time in the Indian Marriage season. However I could not help but noticing the folowing things while at the wedding-

  1. People in Indian weddings mostly wear clothes of all colors , unlike the West where Black is worn by the Groom and his men , while the Bride wears white. Here almost all ladies are festooned in rainbow colored silks and flash golden (real and fake) jewellry. This has a noticeable effect on Gold prices ( almost all imported in India) and clothes ( almost totally made in India and exported too)
  2. Thanks to municipal regulations – weddings in the capital ,Delhi have to me only in community halls and licensed wedding halls. Weddings in farmhouses are banned. This has led to huge shortage of wedding spaces in the capital area, leading to almost all open air weddings being conducted in the sub urbs. The shortage of wedding places is due to lack of planning by urban planners from the pre liberalized India, whoi could not figure out the annual growth rate of population in Delhi  would also lead to an annual growth rate of weddings in Delhi.
  3. There are 365 days in an year but Indian weddings can only be made in certain auspicious days as per the collective Hindu priestdom , which though much impoverished today , earns principally during the wedding times . This also leads to shortage of space in Wedding season and hence an artificial price hike in the booking of marriage spaces. During lean season ( apparently Planet Shani or Saturn has something to do with it in Hindu astrology), the wedding spaces and caterers do lookout for Muslim ,Sikh and Christian weddings ( together 15 % of India’s population- numbers for Delhi not updated). No link has been found in either Hindu priests or the wedding planners but some cartelization seems a possibilty as they gain from the artifical shortage of days on which you can get married. Co relation however is not causation.
  4. If you disbelive this – my own wedding got postponed by 2 months while I waited for the planets to get back on track.
  5. The various vendors and sub contractors in an Indian wedding are
    1. Horse Minder and Horse ( Hindu Grooms come riding on a Horse. Very romantic but quite painful I assure you for the groom. The pain seems delibrate as India has the lowest rate of divorces and re marriages.
    2. Caterer of Food ( Seperate Charges for Vegetarian and Non Vegetarian with Non Vegetarian food quite expensive.)Food is generally charged per plate with a minimum committment. Charges can range on a median of 400 Rs per plate. Thats 8 dollars a plate ( Rupee got depreciated again)
    3. Tent Chap – One who puts up the big tent
    4. Flower People – Literally Flower people
    5. Wedding Space rent
    6. Clothes ( Specialized Saree sellers loved by women and universally hated by the men who have to pay for the sarees and cant make out the difference between dark blue and ..mauve.
    7. Jewellers- India remians the largest importer of Gold. It has the highest per capita gold consumption. Part of the culture. Funnily it makes sense to keep money in Gold and hand it down from generation to generation.
    8. Music Dj – who plays the Indian Bollywood songs and in Northern Urban India a lot of Punjabi music
    9. Photographers and Video graphers
    10. Very few professional wedding planners for most middle class weddings. This is thanks to the Indian penchant for saving money and also because of economic reason ( see below)
  6. Enormous money is pumped in Indian weddings compared to the Indian per capita income ( 800 USD PER YEAR ). It makes the weddings more memorable. Adds to the pain so people stay married and avoid divorces.

Thats all for this week. The Dow has crashed again, the rupee has crossed 50 per dollar, Oil has fallen below 50 USD, and US congress is now re thinking on the auto bailout.Gold prices internationally remain confused and Indian inflation fell to 8.9 %. Indian bankers continue to ask for a rate cut while the central bankers continue to smile like the Buddha.

Recessions come and go but as long as people get married again and again life continues.

Happy Thanksgiving !!

Author: Ajay Ohri

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