Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a staunch advocate of “vocal for local”, had some well-meaning advice for his fellow countrymen on how big fat Indian weddings must be held on home soil so that the money doesn’t flow out. Weddings do entail expenditure, sometimes disproportionately to the wealth of middle class families, but it is better to keep them here, or so goes the refrain.
When we speak of destination weddings, it is only India's super rich who may seek exotic venues in foreign locales. In fact, history has it that many foreign kings from the east brought their princes to India in search of brides, and along came their cooks with their recipes that enriched Indian cuisine.
It is only in the most modern era that destination weddings for Indians have become a big business that takes away some of the Rs 5 lakh crore consumption in the Indian wedding season, according to trade bodies. Wedding expenditure contains a fair dose of conspicuous consumption, with a part of the budget spent on feasts as gastronomic proof of generous Indian hospitality. Of course, it would be nice if the local economy were to benefit from the big fat wedding season that is virtually year-round save for a few inauspicious months.
A $3.44 trillion economy can, however, afford a bit of outflow when it comes to the super rich and the thousands of high net worth individuals who have left the country in the last few years for greener pastures abroad and who might wish to hold their family weddings there. But any sort of wish or restriction on holding weddings abroad would not be in consonance with the promotion of India as a tourist destination that also offers a wide variety of locales for destination weddings.
India has progressed away from the old socialist era thinking of not displaying any ostentation that could reach the poor and the less well off. The Indian wedding, from the humblest to the most extravagant, is still a pillar of consumption that drives a healthy part of the services economy and if India can attract NRIs and foreigners to come and hold their lavish weddings here, Brand India can be said to have caught up with the times.