A Desi Wedding (Shadi) is perfect display of all the cultural extravaganzas that we love to boast.From excessive flowers and lights hanging from every nook and corner, to unlimited food and sweet for guests. The spending does not stop there! Who can accept that a wedding means no jora (a 3-piece garment) and money in some form.
Now one exciting and scheduled routine is the deliverance of Salami to the Groom on the wedding day, and to the Bride on the Walima (2nd party after the wedding) day. The Salami serves as a perfect opportunity for all the Aunties to conspire and plan. (Any desi lady married with kids usually qualifies for this title of Aunty. Though watching drama -serials with a vengeance strengthens the title )
FYI; The Salami is the amount of gift money, that will be decided based on how much the Inviter means to the Auntie. Not to forget, if Auntie’s own child got married earlier, how much did the Inviter actually give in Salami?
So, its not as simple as gifting any amount that one takes fancy. Rather, diaries are kept, tallied and discussed extensively, of how much has to be paid forward.
On the day of giving Salami, its common to see that a relative close to the Groom serving as watch. Her (I can say even Him in certain Shadi cases), extends her services to grab the money from the hand of the receiver, with the false promise of return.
Now, many scenarios and family types have a range of techniques to keep tabs on this so-highly-important financial exchange. The old method of writing a diary live alongside transaction continues in some weddings. Recent updates were to instruct the photographer/videographer to take close shots of every exchange that happened, with clear view of the gifted. Recent advancement of phone cameras has even made it simpler by taking your personal clicks for diary updates.
Its common to see, based on the financial backgrounds of the wedding guests and inviter, the amount going into hundred of thousands of Rupees. This amount is some times handed to the bride, with the common expectation that she will respect the Mother-in-law, and give the Salami to her. In other cases, the Salami is directly deposited with the Mother-in-law, with not even a glimpse of the money for the new couple.
Many justify this practice, voicing opinions that, since the Grooms family has spent money to bring in the bride, their financial burden will somehow be lessened. The old statement ‘Hum nae liya hai you lapis bhi you karna hai’ (Since we received it, we also have to return it), is a standard justification.
One thing to point out is, that the expenses of the Brides’ family, far exceed that of the Grooms’. Justification of such is, that the spenders own family, will benefit on their sons’ wedding. God-forbid, if the parents only have girls, then this is the perfect opportunity to extort them, and culturally punish for not bearing a prized son.
Returning to the new couple, in case they have been condemned to live in joint-family, the loss of the Salami is felt, but is not a constraint. Yet, if the couple are to live on their own, the loss of the Salami is strong, as it could have made the earlier days of married life transition easier.
I have heard one-too-many stories of brides, who married from rich family, into another well-off family, but on their own, struggled financially.
Logically, I would rather NOT spend all that money on the guests and decor, which would not benefit my child. I was laughed at, when I once suggested, that I would rather calculate the cost of an extravagant wedding, and just give the cash to my child. But oh then… I need to live more in the Desiland to learn the proper desi ways…