Gold Rush

“How much was given?” one of them asked.

“About 40 tolas of gold”, answered another.

“That’s it? Such a shame that they agreed for so less. They should have at least demanded 10 tolas more. Stupid people!!”, said another one as uproarious laughter and giggles followed.

If you are wondering whether this is a discussion between commercial dealers of gold or an auction sale of precious metals and ornaments, that’s an obvious misconception. It is in fact an excerpt of some random conversation going on between the guests at some random Indian wedding. However unbelievable that sounds, read on to find out the truth!

Most of you may know that Indians absolutely adore the yellow metal. It is most often an important part of their everyday life. It holds special significance in various religious ceremonies, the varied festivals of India, and in occasions like marriage etc. Gold is often treated as a symbol of prosperity and affluence. It invariably is a part of the grand old Indian tradition that has been handed down over to us by our ancestors. The current scenario, though, is quite different. Apart from having cultural value, gold has now become a status symbol in the society.

India imports 35 billion dollars worth of gold annually being only second in the world to do so after China. Most of the global demand for gold in the world is due to India. And who uses all this gold? Statistics give a clear answer: the Indian state of Kerala. It is quite interesting to note that people here are so crazy about the yellow metal that they prefer being in debt rather than not owning gold! Other states in India also invest in gold both due to cultural factors and for investment purposes as time and again it has been proved that gold is an excellent investment decision and its value will almost never depreciate sharply.

But, what is worrying is that gold is increasingly used as a factor to gauge a particular family or community’s social standing and status. This has increased the hunger and desire for all people to own gold. People of Kerala have become totally obsessed with it. Also known as “God’s own Country” due to its picturesque landscapes and scintillating backwaters. It is time for Kerala to assume a new epithet, “Gold’s own Country”!

And this is most evident in today’s (funny) marriages. Brides on their wedding day are literally gagged by the weight of their own jewelry. It may not be surprising if there is a protest by soon-to-be brides against this form of cruelty.

Given below are some statistical conclusions:

  1. The weight and price of the ornaments worn by the bride on the day of her marriage is directly proportional to the status and pride of the bride’s father and his family.
  2. The amount of gifts given by the bride’s family to that of the bridegroom’s family is the mathematical expression of the love that the bride is entitled to at her husband’s home.
  3. The respect and love given to the bride at her marital home is increased by 250% if additional gifts such as bed, fridge, air conditioner, washing machine etc. are given to the groom’s family before, during or after the wedding.

 

Sadly it has become usual for fathers of daughters to worry, not about finding a suitable man who will love, respect and take care of their daughters, but instead about stocking up on enough gold for her wedding day just so that the guests won’t ridicule them.

But, the icing on the cake has to be the attitude and behavior of the bridegroom and his family. More than the bride, they are interested in the length and weight of the gold necklaces and whether her bangles extend up to her elbow. Such grooms can very well marry a gold shop instead. The society makes it feel like an auction wherein the groom and the bride’s families “agree” on some particular amount of gold for the wedding to be solemnized. The several ways of meeting such demands are as follows:

  1. Mortgaging ancestral property and houses;
  2. Mortgaging or selling off the gold the bride’s mother wore on her wedding;
  3. Loan from bank;
  4. Beg, borrow, steal;

In Kerala, gold shops are as numerous as tea shops and sell as easily as pancakes. They keep on buying gold and have the false feeling of securing more prestige in the society. Although the purchase and use of gold is embedded in the culture as nothing more than a symbol of prosperity, the practice of it is logical only to the extent that it does not affect people’s life and well-being in general. At least, equating possession of gold to status in the society should be immediately done away with as it is out rightly ridiculous and laughable. I hope the next wedding in Kerala doesn’t end up in the bride fainting in the middle of the wedding due to fatigue and exhaustion from heavy weighing “ornament” lifting.

Have mercy on the bride please!   

 

– Confused Earthling

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