Indian weddings are renowned for their grandeur and cultural significance, deeply rooted in traditions that have been passed down through generations. However, as society evolves and modernises, so does the institution of marriage and the roles played by families in Indian weddings. In recent years, a discernible shift has taken place, redefining the dynamics and responsibilities of families during this momentous celebration.
The International Day of Families, observed on May 15 each year, serves as a meaningful occasion to not only acknowledge the importance of families but also to examine their role in shaping cultural practices, such as weddings, within specific contexts. In Indian society, where weddings hold immense significance and where the wedding market is a $50 bn+ industry, it is crucial to explore the evolving dynamics of families within this realm. Let's take a deeper look to understand the changing dynamics and emerging trends:
Embracing Individual Choices:
Traditionally, Indian weddings were initiated, decided and planned by parents and elders, with limited inputs from the couple. However, in contemporary Indian society, there is a growing emphasis on individual choices and preferences. Couples are increasingly empowered to make decisions not only regarding choosing their partners but also around their wedding ceremonies, guest lists, their choice of wedding venues and vendors as well as every possible detail around their special day. Families are happily adapting to this paradigm shift by embracing the desires and aspirations of the couple, encouraging personal autonomy while providing guidance and support as we see an increasing focus on prioritising the couple's happiness in the celebration.
Gone are the days when wedding planning was solely the responsibility of the bride's family. Today, families on both sides actively participate in the planning process, creating a collaborative and inclusive environment. Parents and siblings of the bride and groom discuss ideas, share responsibilities, and work together to organise a memorable event. There is also an increasing trend of many events being shared between the families. This collective involvement fosters stronger bonds between families and promotes a sense of unity, as they collectively embark on the journey of celebrating love and commitment.
Changing financial realities have prompted a re-evaluation of spending areas:
Indian weddings have long been known for their lavishness, with elaborate ceremonies, opulent decorations, and extravagant feasts. However, changing financial realities have prompted a re-evaluation of spending areas. So while on one side many families have been opting for intimate and budget-conscious celebrations we also do continue seeing higher-budget weddings the common thread in all is prioritising personal experiences. This shift has resulted in a more balanced and inclusive approach, where families come together to contribute their resources, equally distributing the financial burden, easing it for both sides, and ensuring a memorable wedding without compromising on quality. We have also observed that couples financing their own weddings is becoming quite common in India, especially amongst millennials. Our data survey revealed that almost 40 per cent of them have contributed in one way or the other in the new normal.
Owing to the cultural shifts, families are becoming more open to the ideas and preferences of all. This is also leading to a shift in societal norms and traditions. These days families are redefining customs as per the preferences and convenience of their loved ones. For instance, our September 2021 data survey reported a 76 per cent surge in the demand for non-saaya wedding dates. Even though this surge was primarily driven by the pandemic and cancellations, it has stayed snd it depicts the change in the mindset of the new generation. This shift is also evident in multiple other customs such as the division of gifting between groom and bride's family, acceptance of a woman priest, and letting go of traditions like Kanyadaan and Bidaai.
Blending Traditions with Modernity:
While families adapt to changing dynamics, they also strive to preserve their cultural heritage. The changing role of families in Indian wedding culture involves finding a delicate balance between honouring traditions and embracing modernity. Families are re-imagining rituals, incorporating new elements, and experimenting with innovative ideas while staying rooted in the essence of their cultural practices. This harmonious blend of tradition and modernity reflects the evolving Indian society, where families celebrate their customs while embracing the winds of change.
The changing role of families in Indian wedding culture reflects the larger shifts happening in society. With a focus on individual choices, collaborative planning, financial prudence, gender equality, and cultural evolution, families are redefining the way weddings are organised and celebrated. These changes not only foster stronger bonds between families but also empower individuals to embrace their uniqueness. As Indian weddings continue to evolve, the changing roles of families serve as a testament to the adaptability, inclusiveness, and resilience of Indian society while continuously reminding us of the fact that no celebration is complete till you have your family to celebrate it with.