Greedy Grooms’ Parents Society) kicked off the 3-day-long Global Indian Bridegroom Fair at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. This event, the first of its kind, has grabbed global attention. According to Indian Wedding Market experts, it is already a huge hit, with parents from every nook and corner of India taking part in the event, along with their daughters, of course—the prospective brides.
Every prospective bridegroom up for sale must wear a cardboard tag, which states his name and NNGP (Non-Negotiable Groom Price), along with his vital stats: Profile, Company, Earnings per annum, Contact Number and other salient features. There are separate stalls for various communities viz. NRI, Kayasth, Aggarwal, Yadav, Marathi. Each stall is further divided into shops on the basis of professions. The shops featuring IT engineers are a bit overcrowded, but the event has been managed extremely well.
For the convenience of ‘buyers’, digital displays in each stall mention the “starting price” and the number of the available grooms. Continuous announcements are made to lure visitors to the respective shops. One such popular announcement says: “Handsome, 27 year old, Non-Kingfisher—yes, ladies and gentlemen—Non-Kingfisher Pilot! Available just for 30 lac at Shop No. 12.” The NRI stall, the most lavish of all, is proving to be the biggest crowd-puller.
The ‘buyer’ parents have termed this an excitingly revolutionary move. Mr. Lachar Malhotra, the quite aged father of Tinky, a B. Com. (Hons.) graduate from Hindu College, said, “It’s a move towards transparency. As it is, things work only this way. Matrimonial ads reveal nothing important. Everywhere it’s mentioned that an educated, well-groomed, beautiful—not to mention fair—girl is needed for so-and-so well-settled boy. But then when I contact them, all they seem to care about is the ‘offer’.”
He continued, “When I ask them about their ‘expectations’, they generally say it depends on me: whatever I can and wish to provide. And when I say that I can spend only 20 lac, (without having a clue about how would I raise the money), they react as if I have insulted them in the worst possible manner. Here, at least, we can make an informed decision which falls under our ‘budget’.”
On the whole, the event ran quite smoothly for the better part of the day. Things became a bit melodramatic when a “spoiled” girl named Pooja came to the announcement stage and snatched the mic from Darbari Lal Ji who was luring visitors for his IITian son.
Fuming with anger, she started shouting in frustration, “What kind of spineless people are you? Yes, I am talking to all of you. Obedient sons wearing price tags, grinning parents behind their IIM graduate products and window-shopping visitors. What’s wrong with you? What good is a manager if he cannot manage his own marriage? What good a lawyer are you, if you cannot argue for what’s clearly righteous to everybody?”
And now she was nearing a crescendo: “And you, the proud and helpless parents, you think you lose your honour if your child marries someone from another caste, but this filthy human market is honourable to you. Why is this barbaric relic still in practice? Why? We are as educated, as competent as boys. In spite of that, why are our parents forced to squander all their life savings so that they can shove us down some ‘well-off’ guy’s throat?”
After that, Pooja’s voice started cracking and she fainted. The mic was taken over by Dhanbhukkad Chand Ji—Chairperson of AIGPS—and he asked people to calm down. He quickly signalled his aides to take the girl and her parents outside the Expo complex. He also blamed the education system for turning the youth “indecent and irreverent”. Post this drama, some grooms left the stalls, throwing their “price tags” away, but things were soon back to normal.
And that was the end to a very productive day. Indeed, this initiative was applauded by many; it is a much-needed innovation for the Indian Wedding Industry.
Author’s Note: It has become a logical step that if you cannot legalize something, you commercialize it—as happens with the practice of dowry in this story. Preventive laws turn defunct. And evil gets redefined as “necessary evil”. Nonetheless, a shameless society is better than a hypocritical one. Because the only thing that is more immoral than one’s immorality is one’s pretence of morality.
This article is by Ravi Singla, and has been edited by Priyanka Mehta. Both Ravi and Priyanka are interning with NTMN in our 2012 Internship-cum-Training Program.