A detailed note of weddings in Post-Covid world: From virtual wedding to the fears of the bride on ‘Jaimala’ stage
Coronavirus lockdown impacted many things. One of the people who were most disappointed with the lockdown of coronavirus were the couples who had planned to get married this year. The big-fat, extravagant, glamourous weddings are an integral part of the Indian culture but coronavirus lockdown put a halt on it.
While many families opted for a simple wedding with a limited number of guests as per government advisory, some postponed their weddings. An Indian wedding is comprised of an auspicious date as directed by Pundits, wedding venue, accommodation for wedding guests, rented cars, humongous shopping of clothes and jewelry. It is not that easy for families to plan a normal Indian wedding on short notice of time. A lot of planning and strategy is required to organize an Indian wedding, especially in rural areas.
If it is not a big fat wedding, it is not an Indian wedding. The extravagance of the event is so intricately weaved that people are ready to wait but not compromise.
There are basically two festive seasons in a year as per the Hindu calendar, when most of the wedding takes place. These are May-June and November-December. While May-June went futile due to the huge surge of coronavirus cases, the window of November-December became the priority of couples.
Virtual weddings became a thing
Coronavirus lockdown also gave birth to a new thing called – virtual wedding. In a virtual wedding, guests join the wedding via video conferencing. People who decided not to postpone their wedding went ahead with limited guests. While some took the sacred seven rounds of the fire at their home, some did it at a venue with very limited people. However, people joined them via online video conferencing on both occasions.
Gurgaon-based Avinash Singh Bagri and Kirti Agrawal, both 31, had their ‘Roka’ or pre-engagement ceremony in January 2019 and the wedding was planned for April 2020. While they were looking forward to a big-fat wedding, coronavirus lockdown put an end to their hope. Desperate time calls for desperate measures, so they both decided to have a virtual wedding on April 14 in presence of close friends and parents via video conferencing.
There was neither time, nor the shops were open. So, Avinash wore his engagement kurta pajama, Kirti managed a wedding lehenga from a friend of Avinash.
Coronavirus impacted the wedding business
Wedding organizers faced a huge loss during the wedding. Although we don’t have a number, it is believed that more than 80 percent of the weddings were postponed. Hotels that were booked in advance also felt the jolt as the couples canceled the booking or postponed it.
Awadh Kumar Chaurasia, owner of Krishna Hotel Party Zone, Banquet Hall said, “Yes, we faced a huge loss in the early months of lockdown as most of the wedding functions were either canceled or postponed to November. Those 6 months were difficult for us. People who had given us advance for the booking asked for the money back. Due to the commercial line, I had to keep paying electric bills. I also kept paying the hotel staff.”
When asked about how things have changed in October, November, and the first week of December, he said “Booking of the banquet hall and hotel rooms are coming back, even the number of weddings has increased in November in comparison to last year. But earning three months are not enough to balance the loss we faced in 6 months of lockdown. The price has remained similar despite all the loss because we don’t want our customer to go away at this important time.”
Wedding in the time of coronavirus
We have observed that a lot of weddings have been taking place in the last few months especially in late November and early December. People are receiving invites almost every day. On 30th November and 1st December, Pankaj Kumar residing in a rural area of Bihar attended more than 8 wedding ceremonies. He said, “There were so many invites on 30th November and 1st December, I had to go to 8 places. At someplace, it was a wedding ceremony, while somewhere it was an engagement or Tilak (pre-wedding celebration when the family of the bride visits the groom’s home to give wedding gifts and perform cultural rituals). I couldn’t afford to miss any of the invites, so I went everywhere but ate at only one place.”
We talked to a bride whose wedding took place in November to know how was her experience. Soni said, “it’s not that I have married before that I could tell a difference on being a bride in the pre-COVID and post-COVID world, but I could tell you that my wedding was different. Many rituals that required physical touches like Chumaun (married women of the family give blessing to the bride by using the leaf of mango and touching the bride on her both knees and head with the mango leaf) were uncomfortable as I could have got the infection. I also couldn’t say no to rituals due to culture and beliefs.” “During the Jaimala I had to take out my mask because the cameraperson and other relatives asked me. Many people were coming to take photos with me and my husband on the stage without a mask. I was frightened but couldn’t do much again because of the respect I am supposed to keep for elders.”
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There were more than 500 guests at the wedding ceremony of Soni Singh and Abhishek Singh, despite the gathering limit of 200 people. Almost 95 percent of attendees were not wearing masks. People who were wearing masks were made fun of. People at the wedding believed that because the government has removed the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, there was no coronavirus anymore. Nobody followed social distancing and proper hand-washing measures at the wedding. On the whole, the wedding ceremony was an invitation to the infection to spread. Fortunately, the Bihar government had imposed a state-wide lockdown in August, which supposedly took away the wave of the infection.
If you remember a Paliganj Wedding in Patna, Bihar emerged as the super spreader of the coronavirus, where around 100 people were found coronavirus positive. The groom had died, but he was not tested as he was cremated by the family before the authorities could test him. You should be worried about functions like these which can be dangerous as many people are still taking the virus lightly.
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