12 April, 2021

The Wedding Jammer

Hit by demonetisation, the Indian wedding ­industry finds itself ­clueless

Waiting Room
A wedding band enterprise in Kolkata sees little business
Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee
The Wedding Jammer

November 8, late evening, Darjeeling. Wedding preparations are in full swing in the Agar­wal household. Hunched around the bed, all four family members are busy stuffing money in envelopes—to be given to the extended family and in-laws in the soon-to-begin functions. Just then, a flurry of news alerts on their phones inform them that five hundred and thousand rupee notes are junk from now on. The festivities abruptly cease. They are in a huddle again, this time to figure out what to do with all that cash. The next day, the groom, Ritesh Agarwal, his thoughts of a honeymoon in Bali rudely interrupted, is queuing up at his local bank branch.

Best-laid marriage plans have gone ­kaput, parents of brides and grooms are in a tizzy and the just-begun great Indian wedding season all over the country is on the rocks. “Less than a month away from the wedding, when all the payments have to be made, we are in a fix,” says bride-­­to-be Dhwani Sheth, a psychologist in Kolkata. She says the Rs 2.5 lakh withdrawal scheme for people who can prove there is...

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