Behind the numbers: Indian weddings
March 6, 2006 8:57 PM Subscribe
70 private cars, 50 000 kilos of flowers, 3000 candles, 65 000 yards of fabric. Those are just a few of the figures from the wedding of New York playboy and (wait for it) hotel heir Vikram Chatwal to model Priya Sachdev. Last year, Lakshmi Mittal (the world's third-richest man, according to Forbes) spent over $60 million for his daughter Vanisha's wedding. What kind of wedding does $60 million buy? A song-and-dance by Aishwarya Rai, among other Bollywood luminaries; ceremonies at the Tuileries and Versailles; and top chefs and designers at your beck and call. In 2004, the Sahara Group's Subrata Roy built three mock palaces on the edge of a lake in Uttar Pradesh; his sons' double wedding had 11 000 guests. Mr. Roy's company paid for the weddings of 101 couples (numbers ending in '1' are considered auspicious) who couldn't afford to get married, and also fed 140 000 poor people across the country (all as part of the festivities). All of this sound like idle gossip? The wedding business is huge in India; it's a $10bn business (and growing at 25% annually), and the demand for gold wedding jewelry, according to analysts, "helped lift the metal's price to a 25-year high last month." Appliance retailers offer discounts during weddings season; there are personal loans available for weddings; and there's even an entire mall devoted to weddings. As the Christian Science Monitor notes, the minimum a middle-class Indian family will spend on a wedding is $34 000. (The average American wedding? $26 327.) And who makes up the Indian middle class? "Those making $4,545 to $23,000 a year." More on Indian wedding traditions here.
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