A Toast To Saina Nehwal’s Not-Big Not-Fat Indian Wedding

by Medha Chakrabartty

Saina Nehwal, I hear you.
You’ve found your person. It the sacrosanct endgame, but you haven’t put a premium on the Big Fat Indian Wedding.
There is the other side of the 'wedding' coin, a sequestered one, a private one, and a quieter one – away from the most naturally orchestrated Comedy of Manners – the Great Indian Party.

Nehwal and Kashyap.

As for me, I am convinced. I will only be able to fully appreciate my own wedding posthumously.

There is simply no other way around this. The stage fright, while I am alive, won’t let even the tiniest specks of fuzzy feelings rise to the top. 

Can you blame me? Indian weddings have always been raspy gram panchayats of sorts. Only, with a larger number of people and – given recent celeb weddings – bejeweled stages, pop-culture icons, starry guest lists, and regal outfits. (If Beyonce can come perform at the Ambani’s, the Flat Earth Society can be instilled with renewed hope.)

Beyonce at the Ambani’s.

Back to the 'larger number of people' bit:

Aah yes, this boy, you said? Go ahead. But don’t mess up, we’ll ALL keep watching.

Ai, that yellow lehenga? You can spot it from the next neighbourhood!

Did you meet so-an-so from such-and-such-place that you’ve never cared about? Well, son, now you’re supposed to start giving a damn.

It is a torrid orchestra.

But I get it – the “Cinderella dream” has always been quite a big deal for the wedding industry, but I would rather have a fairy godmother bring me privacy on a silver platter than shagun ki performance anxiety, pakodas, and the entire globe's popular sentiments.

Think, for a second, of the year that has gone by. Big, fat weddings were everywhere, triggering sentimentalist mothers and teetering lovers. And for those of us who’re unfortunately on the wrong side of our 20s, we’ve had innumerable Mrs Bennetts with confetti in one hand and matrimonial choices in the other, tracking us down even in our vanilla dreams.

Anyway, coming back, here’s a heartfelt shout-out to you, Sania and Parupalli.  I am inclined to believe that ’marriage’ is not a constant state of grandeur, as much as our ‘weddings’ would like us to believe. So it is quite a breath of fresh air to hear of a wedding that stays true to the basics - a court marriage, friends, and family.

But one’s got to love Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, and Isha Ambani (and their better halves, of course) for pulling through all of this while constantly looking like sun-kissed soldiers treading down the sets of Before Sunrise.

How do these guys do it?  I’d look like Suppandi with a long list of instructions on my wedding day if I had a stage set for me, Beyonce flying down to perform, and Hillary Clinton traipsing around in a kurta and a (questionable) hat.

These days, when I close my eyes, I’m haunted by the ivory-gown clad spirit of desi grandiose. If she had her way, she would be dressing me up in a banarasi tee with puffed-up sleeves every single day till I am well past my prime.

I will probably take some twenty years more to equip myself with the emotional bandwidth to let go of my devil-may-care sentiments and embrace the hum-saath-saath-hain extravagance that democratizes the union of two people to an extent where guests fly down from distant countries to come take part in the mutual nod to my commitments.

You know how they say that it is bad luck for the groom to catch a glimpse of the bride right before the wedding? Nah-uh. How can that be an omen and NOT five-hundred people – some performing, some observing, some surveying – testifying to your personal commitments?

Beats me.

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