Vegan paneer masala, pet guests, entry in a Batmobile: Indian weddings with a twist
It’s grand and colourful, loud and elaborate, joyous and chaotic and overflowing with people, music, food and jewellery. It’s the big fat Indian wedding.
Of late, the Indian wedding has taken a turn for the interesting, as young couples give traditional celebrations a bunk and add new twists to their big day. While those who can afford it push the ‘bigger is better’ idea further, but the last few years have also seen the emergence of weddings that acknowledge the interests and causes of the young couple.
The vegan wedding
One trend that seems to be catching up fast in India, for instance, is the vegan wedding. Food, one of the most integral parts of festivities across the country, gets a lot of attention, as young couples seek out vegan wedding spreads without cutting back on taste or quality. While the milk in halwas, ice-creams, and cakes is replaced with soy milk, the paneer masala takes a vegan turn with almond or coconut milk and tofu.
And these vegan couples aren’t satisfied with just tweaking the buffet. Some also make sure that the clothes they wear or gift others on their wedding day, their shoes and even make-up do not contain animal products like leather or products that have been tested on animals.
Preethi Shankaran, a Chennai-based story-teller who had a vegan wedding, told The Times of India, "A happy occasion like a wedding shouldn't be a sad one for animals." Instead of using ghee to perform rituals at her wedding, a special oil made from the madhuca longifolia plant obtained from Cuddalore was used.
The animal friendly wedding
Not only was the wedding between Shasvathi and Karthik a vegan one, it was also animal-friendly. The couple, who love their four pet dogs, extended the invitation to their guests’ animal companions too. Their guests were also asked to avoid wearing materials obtained from animals like silk, leather or pearls.
The venue for the Tamil wedding was decorated with fabric instead of flowers, plastic use was minimal and edible cutlery had been brought in for the occasion.
Needless to say, the bride wore cruelty-free makeup and organic mehendi.
The environment friendly, minimal waste wedding
The wedding of Soumya Reddy, an animal rights activist and daughter of Karnataka transport minister R Ramalinga Reddy, last year was a green affair.
Every aspect of the D-Day was meticulously planned – flowers made of recycled paper were used for decoration, no bouquet was gifted to the couple, saplings were given as return gifts and steel and melamine cutlery was used instead of plastic ones. The guest list included a whopping 18,000 people.
According to a report by The Times of India, more than 150 solid waste management workers from Hasiru Dal (green brigade) were present at the venue to make sure all of the waste was properly segregated for recycling and disposal.
"Soumya wanted to make it as eco-friendly as possible. The food waste will go to a private biomethansation plant on Magadi Road. Dry waste will be taken to other collection centres. Our aim was to ensure there is no flower waste at all," Marwan Abubarker, co-founder of Hasiru Dal, had told TOI.
Soumya later told The Hindu, “Waste is a big crisis in our country and we really need to take responsibility for the waste we generate. We’ve seen the extravagance and waste at traditional weddings where you blow up so much money for one day. I’ve always lived my life the way I’ve wanted. We knew we’re not getting married for someone else, but, for ourselves. I wanted a wedding that would have a lighter impact on the planet."
The heavy-metal wedding
Do heavy metal songs at a Tam-Brahm wedding sound like an odd-combination? Well, this is exactly what Akshaya and Sriram, who met in Detroit and bonded over a mutual love for heavy metal music, did at their wedding.
The Dulhan Brass Band was helmed by the bride and groom and debuted to a flabbergasted audience. Draped in a traditional blue silk saree, gold jewellery and jasmine flowers in place, Akshaya was no coy bride, belting out heavy metal songs. And Sriram played the drums in a veshti.
“I have to say, the astonished faces of Tam Brahm sexagenarians and septuagenarians when we played progressive metal in traditional wedding attire was the best part of the wedding,” Akshaya told The News Minute, adding, “We wanted to keep the attire traditional. Tradition is hipster!”
The "turning heads" wedding
While grooms riding on horses at the baraat may have been a widely popular tradition in India for years, the current generation are adding a twist to make their entry grander.
Like this Indian groom in the UK who arrived not in a regular car, but a Batmobile, with none other than Batman behind the wheels.
With grand entrances on helicopters, chariots (which can cost up to Rs 1 lakh for that one entry for the day), customised bikes or vintage cars, or lotus or seashell shaped stages that unfurl to reveal the couple inside, and even illusionists making the couple disappear and reappear, couples want to make sure their big day is talked about long after it is over, as this report in The Times of India illustrates.