Hyderabad, Feb. 13: For three days starting today, Andhra Pradesh will be in the grip of a wedding boom.
About a lakh weddings, including 10,000 in cyberspace, have been scheduled in this period because there are no "auspicious muhurtams" till October-end this year under the Hindu almanac.
"Such a thing is happening in the year of a Maha Kumbh Mela after almost 250 years," said astrologer Gargeya Srinivas. "These three days are the last best days for tying the knot… particularly, Revathi muhurtam of February 14 is the rarest and the best."
As a result, it's boom time for hotels, marriage halls, caterers, gift shops, flower-sellers and wedding bands and purohits. Star hotels are booked to capacity, gift shops are hiring extra hands, purohits have hiked rates and caterers are working 24x7.
"I have hired 100 extra hands to pack gifts for weddings since last Sunday," said the owner of Mahaveer Collections on RP Road, Secunderabad.
In Hyderabad alone, all 20 five-star hotels and 100-odd two-star hotels have been booked to capacity. About 1,200 marriage halls have been separately booked for the morning and evening.
"The muhurtam of most backward class and Kamma weddings are in the early morning or late at night and those among Brahmins are later in the mornings and around noon," said Daivajna Sharma of a purohit association.
Purohits have hiked their fees from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000 per wedding. Gold, silver, clothes, gifts and consumer items worth about Rs 850 crore have been requisitioned by FMCG distributors in the state.
Around two crore guests will be entertained in this period. A spokesperson for G. Pulla Reddy and Sons of Kurnool said they had orders for nearly 75 tonnes of sweets across their outlets in the state. "The demand has never been this high in 20 years," said a representative in a Kurnool outlet.
As for cyber-weddings, a spokesperson for Vanaja Rao and Associates, a prominent marriage bureau operator, said about 10,000 had been scheduled in Hyderabad, Warangal, Vijayawada, Rajahmundry, Tirupati and other places.
"Except the wedding couple and close family members, the guests will watch the ceremony online or via video-conferencing in the US, UK, Australia and Singapore," said senior manager Srinivasa Avadhani.
To cash in on the wedding rush, the Andhra road transport corporation, South-Central Railway and private chartered air operators are running extra services between all prominent cities and towns. Deccan Aviation has acquired a licence to fly chartered planes to Tirupati, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Hyderabad from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Calcutta.
The wedding mania has not spared MPs and ministers either. "I don't have the time to enjoy the food at any weddin because I have to run to another. If I don't, I will earn the anger of various communities which I cannot risk ahead of local body elections," a senior MP said.