PUNE, India -- When Indian entrepreneur Suniel Mutha had his wedding, he tied the knot in his wife's hometown of Chennai, then known as Madras. The nuptials lasted three days and included more than 900 guests.
He and his wife wanted something different for their children. So when it came time for them to marry, the Muthas jumped on the latest trend sweeping India's bridal business: destination weddings. Son Sidaarrth, now 26, was married in a dazzling display in Macau last year; daughter Shweta, 27, was wed in a big bash in Bangkok in July. Each wedding stretched over five days, included hundreds of guests and had all the trappings of a traditional Indian wedding -- down to the team of 60 chefs and kitchen assistants flown in to prepare thousands of special meals, and a horse for the groom to sit astride for his grand entrance. The tab for the Macau wedding alone totaled $4 million to $5 million.
India has long been famous for its lavish weddings. For many, a wedding is a status symbol, and families often save for decades to host a big fat one. And while the global economic slowdown may have pinched incomes and reined in conspicuous consumption elsewhere, Indian weddings appear recession-proof, as wealthy families strive to host an unforgettable event. Now, the Indian wedding has hit the road as families try to outdo each other in far-flung locales like Dubai, Thailand, Macau and even France.
"If there was a large enough rocket and spaceship, you can be sure that the first big wedding in space will be an Indian one," says psychoanalyst and author Sudhir Kakar, who lives in Goa. "It is not keeping up with the Joneses but keeping ahead of them—'Eat your heart out, Joneses, you pretenders!'" more.......