by Diya Barmecha
The Big Fat Indian wedding has gone past a declaration of love, celebration and interconnecting two families but has slowly become a spectacle of who can put on the greatest show. It has moved on from the various rituals that have to be done and changed to how can we make a mundane thing seem extraordinary. Speaking on a personal level, weddings are a time for me to bond with my family over dance, music, food and eventually after days of fun, the reason we attended these series of functions. The fun that people can have knows no limit, as people are celebrating the union of their friends/family. However, what comes with the spectacle of fun, amusement and enjoyment is a long list of wastage and unsustainability.
The Indian weddings started off as only the series of rituals and the wedding at the end. However, as the money started flowing into our country the destinations became more exquisite and the number of people only grew exponentially. In the past, we would have weddings in the same city as we live, now there are weddings in different cities, with hashtags, social media uploads and even fun activities.
However, on the whole, once we look at the things we aren’t supposed to, the Big Fat Indian wedding is really a celebration of all the waste accumulated at the end of it. The decoration we once appreciated, is gone to waste by the end of the celebrations. The flowers used to make the environment fresh are put to waste that very day since the next day, it loses the fresh fragrance it leaves. The food that was organised for the hundreds of the guests attending is wasted because not everybody say if they are coming or not and neither does everyone eat everything. In weddings, with a much needed buffet system there is also a waste system in place. At the end of each meal there is enough food waste to feed at least 200 more people and that is just for a small scale wedding. With up to 2.5 crore weddings yearly, the celebrations and waste is unfathomable. According to an NGO called Feeding India, around 40% of the food in a small-scale celebration is waste and as the guests increase the number can also increase up to 60%/.
It is one thing to enjoy yourself and another to enjoy at the expense of destruction, because that’s what weddings have now become. A celebration of all the food waste, decoration waste and flower waste. There is no limit to the amount of fun one can have during the wedding but there is a limit to the amount of waste one wastes.
With a simple RSVP system, the amount of food wastage can be reduced as the amount of food made will be based on the people who are coming and not those who were invited. One can also do something as simple as asking what the guests would prefer to eat in these few days, maybe vote on the basis of what they might like. For example, if collectively the group doesn’t like pasta then pasta will not be made in the first place and hence won’t be wasted. Much like what happens in most airlines where you can choose what food you would like to eat for a few meals while you are on the aircraft. This is just that on a bigger scale and less strict. With knowing what the collective group wants to eat, the food can be made accordingly as can the estimation of food needed be more accurate.
There is even more wastage in the cutlery and floral sectors. With floral decorations only being one time use and then being dumped into the trash. However, their life does not have to end when their scent and beauty does. Many organizations take old flowers and turn them into colors used in Holi to make rangoli. The cutlery can be made using wood so that it is reused and no water is wasted while washing so much cutlery and it is still easy. It is not about controlling your splurge in weddings because everyone wants to show and flaunt their money and if not that they want the facilities to have the best few days. However, it is controlling and knowing what to do with the waste. I do not want there to be limits on the celebration but I want there to be protocols in place to limit the waste in the first place.