The Indian wedding for Dummies - 3. Some figures
The "Indian wedding" (I should say the Hindu wedding to be exact) has made the subject of numerous books, movies, visits to India. In short it’s an institution. I will try here to understand something to it!
Once we understand the importance of marriage, not as the union of two people who are in love but as the alliance of two families who share an interest (socially, economically), we understand that people don’t go half-way for this very social event.
In India, more than 15 million marriages take place every year, or 300,000 on each auspicious day (in addition to individual horoscopes, Hindu can marry only on certain dates, less than 50 in the year, which creates some logistic problems, especially to rent wedding halls; for those who live above a slum (as yours truly) and are interested to know when planning a night out to avoid becoming crazy at the sounds of the drums, see this website).
People (mostly the bride's family) spend between 20 and 100% of their savings on a wedding, which costs in cities between 40,000 and 120,000 euros (source)
On the podium of the most expensive weddings in the world, the silver medal goes to Subrata Roy with a small 132 million dollars in 2004 in Lucknow (source); for the story, at the time of writing, Roy is in jail because his company, Sahara, owes $500 million to investors, and his bail is set at half this amount... That guy has missed the chance to save some money and be low profile!
Between 100 and 10,000 people (on average one thousand) come to the wedding, but in general they don’t attend all the ceremonies.
I have even seen posters inviting the entire neighborhood to join: this illustrates the importance of social appearances, the more guests you have the richer! (This is how Roy fed more than 100,000 beggars on the wedding day of his sons!) Remember that this is THE event of a lifetime! And it is an event of great social importance.
Due to the desired lavishness and the number of ceremonies, Hindu weddings are spread over several days, between 3 and 7 in general. Hence the exorbitant cost and incredible logistics for the preparation: on each occasion they need different clothes, a buffet (in general everything is paid for the guests, including the hotel, and they even receive gifts) etc.