//The economical, big fat Indian shaadi

The economical, big fat Indian shaadi

3 Dec, 2006 TIMES NEWS NETWORK

NRIs are heading back home to organise big-ticket weddings, and at one-fifth of the cost abroad.

NRIs are returning to India. No, it has got nothing to do with reverse brain drain. In fact, it is all about the big fat Indian weddings. When it comes to tying the knot in true Indian style, no place offers as good a deal as India.

So whether it is for a Goan beach do or a Rajasthani-themed wedding, NRIs are splurging big bucks for Indian exotica.

As Sydney-based Ketan Mitra puts it, "I organised the wedding of my daughter in Kerala, even though all of us are living in Australia. We wanted a traditional Indian wedding with a big guest list and the bill was coming to be phenomenal in Australia. By organising it here, not only did we save on money but also managed to give everything an exotic flavour."

Economics, of course, plays a big role here. While in India the cost hovers around Rs 5,000 per person for a modest wedding, in the US the same will cost almost double at $200. As Amrita Makhija, based in New York, says, "Sit-down marriages in the US turn out to be really expensive. A big affair there will cost almost five times more than India."

NRIs are also going for destination weddings with Rajasthan forts, and Goa and Kerala beaches being their favourite. "Marriage at a palace in Rajasthan would set a client back by Rs 20,000-25,000 per person. Goa, on the other hand, comes a little cheaper at Rs 10,000-20,000 per person. But imagine having the same wedding in some fairytale castle in Scotland – the cost per person can go up to Rs 1,00,000-1,75,000. The difference is there for all to see," says wedding planner Jairaj Gupta.

In Rajasthan, themes like Rajwada or a Punjabi village are much in demand. In Goa, a Spanish or a Goan carnival theme are preferred for weddings. Most of the second-generation NRIs are actually choosing them over other destinations like Italy or South of France because of their sheer exotica value.

As Sheetal Khetarpal, who is now settled in New Jersey, says, "You can have a true Indian wedding only in India. The quality of clothes, food etc is any day better. It is as cosmopolitan as any part of the world and at the same time, there is a sense of nostalgia involved."

And last but not the least, the twist in the tale lies in legality of it all. Getting married in India is especially advantageous for men. Pinky Anand, a senior advocate in the Supreme Court, explains, "The division of material assets in the event of a divorce is of paramount importance abroad. In India, we have no such laws. This may be a reason why many NRIs would be preferring to marry on Indian shores as the men stand to gain."