BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Marriage is the coming together of two bodies and two souls, an intensely spiritual experience, or, at least, that’s how it is supposed to be. Through the years, however, weddings have become saturated with commercialism, eroding the spiritual significance of the institution.
It isn’t that weddings were not celebrated in the past. But they were of a subtle tone, exuding sophistication that is born of humility. Today, weddings are swathed in bling and a crass loudness, feeding a booming wedding planning industry that mostly cares little for the loss of finesse, as long as customers are willing to splurge without a second thought.
“Celebrations in the past depended on the standard of living. Before, there were weddings where a buffet was served or food was served pre-plated. At that time, weddings were designed based on family tastes,” recollects Juliet Andrade, who in her 80s has attended weddings through generations.
“The buffet normally consisted of Goan and Portuguese dishes, but the taste varied depending on the cooks selected. It is not the same now, because today cooks are not in a position to prepare all these dishes. Instead, certain cooks specialise in certain dishes, and therefore, it is difficult to get one cook, like Pascoal in the old days, who was capable of preparing a buffet of class,” reminisces Juliet.
“Today, food is ordered from different places and laid out on the buffet table. This is because the flavour of the past has not been passed down through generations. Yet, a change in food cannot be quantified because taste is personal,” admits Juliet.
“In olden times, people came to stitch a wedding suit. It was a simple black suit for a wedding then. But now people want different styles and use different colours. They are more conscious of their material and want the most expensive in comparison to grooms of the past,” avers Andrew Rodrigues of Wellfit Tailors, established in 1963 and the oldest in the capital city.
“Stitching for weddings then was different to what it is now because there is more glamour to weddings now. Back then, it was a spiritual celebration,” recollects Andrew, as he cuts through cloth for a wedding suit.
The basic elements of weddings remain the same. It is how those elements have been embellished and glamourised that make the difference. This is evident even in the music being played at weddings these days.
Andrew Rodrigues, Wellfit Tailors
“There were two types of weddings in the old days – the posh ones and the village ones. At that time, parents of the bride or groom used to come in suits to book us bands,” says Kevin Mendes, whose musical skill graced weddings for over 44 years.
“We used to play cha-cha, ballroom, tango and bossa nova for the elite weddings and play songs by Santana and other genres in shamianas or village halls,” remembers Kevin.
“Today, youngsters dictate what has to be played in the first set, so we don’t get a chance to play much. Then we play the second set, and the third set consists of music that sees all of them dance together. It is different now and sad,” laments Kevin.
“Noise restrictions have made matters worse,” he adds.
Memories of weddings captured through film or videos have seen an improvement in quality in leaps and bounds because of technology. Simultaneously, the pricing has also increased with good videographers charging up to 1.5 lakh rupees for a wedding.
“Initially, we used to do videos of three hours and develop around seven coloured rolls for each wedding. Now, most clients are opting for cinematic videos of ten minutes as time is of the essence,” says Oscar Chagas Silva, proprietor of Oscar Vision, one of the oldest in the industry.
“We give the client over four thousand pictures to choose from for their album and most clients want cinematic videos of ten or sometimes even shorter durations. The client base is moving along with technology,” confirms Oscar.
“Today there are marriage formation courses that couples must attend before their marriage is celebrated, unlike before, when there were none. There were few divorces then, and there are many now. That is because of an erosion of family values,” said a priest on the condition of anonymity.
“Family or marriage values cannot be instilled through courses, but by parents, and it looks like most parents are failing,” admitted the priest.
“Years ago, the entire ward would begin preparing for a wedding 15 days in advance, with members of the family reuniting, and where everyone knew everything about the couple to be married and their families,” says Kenkre, as his mind races to moments of weddings of yesteryear.
“In our times, the first night of the wedding was the most memorable night. Things have changed so much now, and I think the cause of that change has been our attention on money instead of values,” bemoans Kenkre.
As one sifts through memories of wedding albums, the script is clear – weddings today have become an ostentatious celebration of a feeble intention that requires no steadfast conviction.