Marriage managers calling
Hire to fire worries
BJ Mirror Correspondent
Hey God! How and where from should I find a groom for my daughter? An anguished man tells his worried wife. Suddenly a voice pops up; akashvani (voice from sky) tells the couple: “Why don’t you try www. community matrimony.com? And, Ad Jingles appear on the TV set. It promises to reel out details of eligible bachelors and spinsters of the required caste.
Yes, marriages-made-easy groups are there to take heat off your head. No wrinkles on foreheads; no sleepless nights. Thanks to professionalization and commercialisation of all hues of the social life, a new crop of ‘event management’ personnel is there at your beck and call. Marriage or birthday party or any social event, the ‘managers’ will do anything and everything, of course, for a fee. Computer and internet have made the task easier.
To begin at the beginning, they will give you a long list of boys and girls to choose from to suit your needs. Not only that! From shamiana to sehanai; flower vendors to itarwala; menu to eateries; cooks to dish-washers; everything is on your finger-tips. Bigger towns have wider groups to pick from, depending on your need and purse.
Jamshedpur, Patna, Ranchi, Bokaro, Dhanbad and the like have wider choice of event managers. In fact, event management has emerged as a most lucrative and fast growing industry. It provides round the year business. Meet the Press or trade conferences are also in their domain.
Large crops of marriage bureau have been flourishing in the state capital towns of Patna and Ranchi. They not only provide lists of groom-brides-to be but also hold negotiations on your behalf. Some of them also go beyond that. If the boys’ parents are hard nut to crack on dowry demands, a few of them reportedly go to extent of ‘kidnapping’ and help solemnise wedding. Some districts of north Bihar have earned notoriety for ‘marriage at gun points’. The situation has reached such a pass marriageable boys of particular castes go in hiding during the marriage seasons to escape the eagle eyes of marriage managers.
High tech. marriages, however, are exclusive domains of the cash-rich parents. Majority of middle and lower middle class parents have to depend on traditional search engines. Relatives, friends and well-wishers extend help in identifying grooms and clinching the deal. The poor and hand-to-mouth parents have no options but to look to gods and goddesses. This cuts down expenses and time. Patandevi, Arya Samaj temples, Birla mandir, Panchshiva mandir on the Serpentine road, Mahavir mandir near the Railway station and other temples are the most sought-after sights for solemnising marriages.
The Vaikatpur Shiva temple in the east of Patna witnesses largest gathering. During the auspicious wedding days, the sprawling temple turns into mini villager fairs. Certain Hindu and Muslim organisations and philanthropists organise group or mass marriages. They even present gifts to newly-wed couples.
The event managers, however, carry away the largest cake. The quantum of money involved in the wed business has lured Patna-ites to create community halls and hire them out for marriages. Name any muhalla and community halls will be found. Many of them have gone on internet. Click the site and marriage halls will be on your finger-tips. Rough estimates say that over 3,000 private marriages halls dot the state capital of Bihar alone. Such facilities are fast coming up in other big and small towns. Starred-un-starred hotels also open their doors for marriages and earn astronomical amounts of money.
There is paucity of subh lagnas (auspicious dates) in the next year. As per the Varanasi Panchang (calendar), the auspicious dates (total 35 days) for solemnising marriages are given below.
December, 2011: 1, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 16;
January: 15 (Sunday), 16 (Monday), 19 (Thursday), 27 (Friday) and 28 (Saturday).
February: 8 (Wednesday), 11 (Saturday), 12 (Sunday), 17 (Friday), 24 (Friday) and 25 (Saturday).
March: 10 (Saturday) and 11 (Sunday).
April: 14 (Saturday), 18 (Wednesday), 25 (Wednesday) and 26 (Thursday).
June: 14 (Thursday), 24 (Sunday), 27 (Wednesday), 28 (Thursday) and 29 (Friday).
November: 24 (Saturday), 28 (Wednesday), 29 (Thursday) and 30 (Friday).
December: 6 (Thursday), 7 (Friday) and 8 (Saturday).
Private residential houses are also offered to needy and eager clients. Ever escalating wedding costs force not-so-rich parents to create marriage venues on roads itself. For over 24 hours, normal life ebbs out of these roads. Baraatis and baraatis alone, in their colourful attires, fill the vacuum. The rents of private community halls have more than doubled in the last five years or so. If a hall was available for Rs. 9,000 to 12,000 in 2006, this year parents have to fork out Rs. 22,000 to 35,000 for 12 hours. The cost last year ranged between Rs. 15,000 to 20,000, depending on location of marriage halls and rush of harried parents. In addition to the hiring charges, parents had to spend Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 36,000 on decorations and chairs for guests at these halls in 2006. Now the cost has soared to Rs. 62,000 to 80,000 in the current marriage season. Rent of private houses has gone up by over 30 per cent. Posh hotels are exclusive preserve of rich bureaucrats, contractors, political leaders, bahubalis and few other people of the ilk.
The gold prices tend to cross Rs. 30,000 barrier for ten grams any moment. Cloth prices have gone up 30 to 40 per cent. Stitching charges have also risen. As a silver lining to this grim scenario a new tribe of merchants have appeared on the ferment. They hire out sherwani and lehanga for the grooms and brides. After the ceremonies are they take back the clothing and charge only rent.
In mini India
Culturally a mini-India of rich people, the steel city of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, is fast to outsmart even metropolitan cities of the country inevent management. To enjoy a wedding in the family, just call up the Band-Baja-Baraat experts. Wedding planners, though the concept is largely confined to the elite, help parents of brides and grooms-to-be to hand over the worries and enjoy the D-Day. A few Jamshedpur-based event management firms have brought this hugely successful metro concept to the industrial township. They have created their own sites on internet to help the prospective customers. Just click and enjoy the event. They arrange everything related to the M-word. The planners offer a single-window service for nuptial arrangements, comprising designing and distributing cards, receiving and seeing off guests, shamiana design and menu planning.
From arranging priests of all religions, to designing wedding cards, putting up guests, booking reception space, decorating the dream venue and even dressing up the bride and groom to look like a million bucks, the companies promise everything for a dream wedding.
A event manager said: “We did not have a very good outing in 2009 (the seed day) but things picked up in 2010 and 2011”. They have different packages ready for middle income groups as well as the well-heeled. “From Rs 50,000 to Rs 50 lakh, you have a string of options. You leave all worries to us and spend quality time with your relatives and children. That’s what we offer”, said another event manager, now locked in a cut-throat competition with others in the trade.
But when it comes to the purchase of jewellery and other expensive articles, the firms give its clients the option of buying directly from outlets. A Steel City based general physician, who took help of the wedding planner firm to solemnise his own marriage in Orissa, was full of praise for their service. “I had to fulfil my Orissa-based grandparents’ wishes to host a reception there. I had little idea about that place. But the wedding planners successfully organised everything without a glitch”, he smiled. And the emerging slogan is: Marriages are made in heavens and the event managers solemnise them on earth for you. No tear-shedding; giggles and giggles all the way!