TODAY -

Marriage Glitz : Burgeoning Glamour In The Nuptial Ceremonies

Seram Neken *

Jatra puba (marriage procession)
Jatra puba (marriage procession)
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It was as if the Goddess Durga arrives in the wrong season. A new trend of greeting the bride with crackers, bombs and rockets has started in Manipuri weddings nowadays. Apart from spraying notes on the Sankirtan performers, the marriage parties have started spewing unlimited cash on the grooms and brides during the marriage ceremony. Unbudgeted marriages of the wealthy and powerful have begun to hit the middle class in Manipur society.

To a number of important figures, marriage ceremonies have become the platform to demonstrate their wealth and power among friends and relatives. Heavy expenses in weddings of their sons, daughters or other wards have become a symbol of their prestige and position in the society. For those who can afford, marriage functions turn out to be a big extravaganza. Although the so called poverty-stricken families are not affected by the trend, the middle class families suffer a lot in trying to imitate the fashion.

A number of nuptial ceremonies of high-profile politicians and bureaucrats, extraordinarily wealthy contractors and suppliers, in the recent past, have been arranged in a manner as glamorous as the important state functions. Costs involved in decorations, catering, conveyance and all other arrangements of their weddings are too big to be assessed in public. The amount of dowry (gifts presented to the bride) in cash and kind have shot up to unexpected levels. Recent marriage functions hosted by high profile persons such as Ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats have been proof of the burgeoning glamour.

Right from the engagement day, the boy's family has to open the treasury in the form of "Mangol Kaba" in which delicious fruits and edibles are brought to the girl's family. To mark the consensual nod, the boy's family has to arrange another offering for the so called "Waroipot". On the eve of the actual wedding, "Heijingpot" or "Heijing Kharai Lannaba" has also become an expensive ceremony on the part of the groom's party.

Among the wealthy families, there have been instances of gifting costly jewelries like necklaces costing in terms of lakhs of rupees to the bride on "Heijingpot" day. In return, the bride's parents also present precious gold chains to the grooms while coming for the "Bor Baton Touba" (formal invitation of the groom).

In case of elopement, the boy's side has to equip the girl with costly attires from head to toe during the "Nupi Thinba" on the next day of elopement. The process becomes the same in "Hejingpot", "Luhongba" and "Mangani Chakouba". To an average family, the cost of a Heijingpot function ranges from fifty thousand to one lakh, while the so called high profiles spend even to the tune of five to ten lakhs of rupees.

Ahead of the wedding day, there is the tradition of sharing a sum of money to the bride's family for purchase of traditional attires for the to-be-married woman. Rupees thirty to fifty thousand has become the average sum for an average family, while the wealthier spends for it to the tune of lakhs. "Kujaba Yaba", a tradition of tying knots has also been unnecessarily expanded to cover gifting between parents and near relatives of the bride and the groom, thereby making an expensive episode with increasing glamour attached to it.

Other episodes such as "Aaunpot Thinba", "Pham Konba" and "Phiruk Nungshang Kaiba" have also involved expenses, the quantum of which is increasing day by day. "Mangani Chakouba", the Manipuri tradition of feasting hosted by the bride's family on the fifth day of wedding has also turned out to be a wasteful function nowadays. Delicious menus are arranged, huge people are invited, and lots of eatables are wasted, only in the name of prestige. Often, the groom's side shares huge amount to the bride's family for this occasion.

As regards dowry, the cash and kind have gone extra-high nowadays, particularly in the high profile families. Things unheard of in the past have surfaced today. All kinds of electronic gadgets right from wide screen televisions to four wheeler vehicles, from the land plots to extraordinary jewelries - ten lakhs, twenty lakhs and thirty lakhs have become the order in average middle class families.

As for instance, the mere accessories of a bed demand hefty sums tuning even to one lakh. To "Esei Sakpa/Sakpi" (sankirtan performers), "Arangpham" (professional arrangers), "Poloi Setpi"( Make-up) etc., an assignment at marriage in VIP families has served as a reaping day.

Over and above all these, the bridal families as well as the groom's have resorted to glamorizing the wedding ceremonies with blasting crackers, rockets and bombs. Cash notes have begun to rain on the on-the-stage bride and groom, manifesting the show-off competitions between the two parties. Decorations at the venue of weddings are really glittering, the expenses of which are counted in lakhs. The style and glitter of "Mandop Khanba" have followed imitations of alien traditions.

Ballons, garlanding, carpeting, ceilings, sitting arrangements etc. have been elaborate enough to retain the VIPness of the families. Traffic management on marriage days have become a herculean job, as important persons with personal escorts attend the marriages in queue. It is really dramatic and glitz to witness wedding ceremonies in VIP families.

However, assuming marriage as the status symbol is a matter of loading heavy fiscal burdens on the head of parents particularly of the middle class. In the near future, unnecessary flexing of muscles on nuptial ceremonies will invite the social evils of dowry and class hegemony in Manipur society. It is high time we make the tradition simple and meaningful as much as possible.


* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao as part of 'The Voiceless Speaks' column
This article was posted on April 02, 2014.


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