Sunday, June 18, 2017

117. I think everyone should know it!

Don't get me wrong if I say that girls spend more time looking for a bridal lehenga, that they wear just once, than a groom whom they seek for life.

In my wildest of dreams I could not have imagined that a six-meter apparel, which came into existence eons ago in this part of the world, could spin a recession-proof billion dollar industry. From the ordinary to the special, or extra-special, it isn't the traditional outfit anymore that my grandmother and mother would wear before setting out in the public. Laced with exquisite embroidery and inexpensive pearls, this earliest stitched skirt has come of age on the global stage by winning accolades on red carpets across the world. And, it is not done yet. 


A raunchy lehenga dance from a Bollywood movie 
Secured at woman's waist but leaving the lower back and midriff bare may have set off its multiple cinematic renditions, from sublime to the raunchiest, but not without letting all-pervasive lehenga earn its meteoric rise as a secular apparel for festivals and weddings. So much so that its traditional variants - ghagra, chaniya, pavdai or lacha - have long faded into oblivion as an annual lehenga business in excess of US$10 billion leaps center-stage into the ever growing wedding industry. It will be sacrilege to imagine a bride without a lehenga!   

No surprise, it remains one of the most sought after apparel for any wedding. Don't get me wrong if I say that girls spend more time looking for a lehenga, that they wear just once, than a groom whom they seek for life. With as many as 10 million marriages in the making each year in India, the six-meter apparel could not have had a better prospect. Celebrity endorsements have set the market abuzz. As designer studios and neighborhood boutiques surface all over, the ubiquitous lehenga has revolutionized the marriage market like never before.


The two-minute lehenga 
Should one buy such an expensive apparel that is worn just once (as its assemblage weighs heavy) or would it make better sense to take it on hire instead? The sociology of lehenga, if there was one, could have offered some interesting insights. Suffice it to say that the lehenga reflects the social status of the bride's family. If that was not the case, most bride families would have conveniently taken a lehenga on hire for the ceremony. Rarely if ever they do so, knowing well that it is worth a single wear only a'la a two-minute lehenga

For the expanding middle class with a notion of false pride, the price of a lehenga isn't worth any serious attention. After all, marriage is once-in-a-lifetime event for which families like to splurge at least a fourth of their lifetime savings, such that the wedding remains talk of the town. Who would want the story of a hired lehenga doing the rounds instead! Little do they realize that for no good reasons the sociology of lehenga is fueling the economy of lehenga on a scale. I've been cautioned to refrain from raking up an issue lest I earn the ire of the lehenga industry.   

But a friend inspired me to bring the lehenga story up. If hiring a lehenga is against the prestige of the bride's family, he tells me,  then why should the family stop at just the lehenga? Will it not add to their pride if they were to buy the ghodi (mare), the band-baaza (musical band) and the rest of it? Well said, I think everyone should know it! 

Some readers have mentioned that 'false pride' extends beyond 'lehenga' into male wardrobe. None of the 'sherwanis' and 'glitzy suits' bought for the occasion (marriage) ever get worn thereafter.