The cook who used to work at my house till fairly recently was in the habit of borrowing substantial sums of money every now and then for various reasons, and finally ended up racking up a debt of Rs. 41,000.

My mother asked her what exactly she needed so much money for, despite her healthy salary, and this was her response:

“We come from a big family, and frequently have ceremonies like mundan, marriage, and puberty rituals for which we need to buy new clothes and gold. If we are conducting the ceremony, it has to be done in a lavish manner, otherwise people in our village will gossip about us. Even if we are simply attending, we need to look grand with new jewellery- we will be mocked as “poor” for wearing the same old things again.”

This necessity to please society was taken to such an extent that our cook even sold the bicycle her son had got from his school as a prize for coming in the top 5 in his class 10 board exams, and bought a pair of diamond earrings to attend a wedding in her hometown, which she promised to pawn and buy another cycle as soon as she returned.

Lawyer’s Opinion On Useless Rituals

Saroj Jha, a Brahman hailing from Bihar and one of the founding partners of SRGR Law Offices, Delhi also had something to say on the same in a recent Facebook status:

“People from my region especially Brahmans are very proud of our culture, tradition and rituals. But I believe that all these rituals are useless, meaningless and good for nothing. The poor people who would slog day in and out in some cities such as Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, etc. and whatever money they could save they would spend it on mundane, janao, post marriages, post marriage rituals, all feasts after someone dies…For rich people spending money is fine, but for poor people I believe instead of spending money and precious time on all the age old rituals is futile, rather money earned or saved should be spent on a child’s education, health, higher studies, clothing etc. I cannot change it alone, but educated youth from our region should think about it and spread awareness on the importance of health and education.”

Mr. Jha brings up a very valid point. The Indian economy is not at its best right now, and the value of money today is far less than it used to be even twenty years ago.

Earlier, a lot could be done with Rs 100 but now, one can barely buy a meal from a subsidised eatery for the same.

Read More: Marriage At Eighteen, Alcohol At Umpteen? A Study Of India’s Sickeningly Archaic Alcohol Laws

Education, Healthcare: The True Priorities

Rather than keep emphasising rituals that ultimately do nothing for a person’s well being, it is important for the educated youth of these areas and communities to set an example and spread awareness by prioritising what exactly money should be spent on, especially when it is hard to come by.

Education and healthcare need to be given priority, as well as clothing, food, and shelter. Rs 1 lakh spent on a marriage could be used to pay a year’s school fees, as well as provide for a uniform, books, and other such necessities.

A ritual or ceremony is just one day in your life- rather than squander huge amounts of money on pomp and show, it is better to spend a little on these occasions, and use the rest of the money saved for the more important, everyday concerns of life.

A Rs. 500 Wedding

Andhra Pradesh recently saw two IAS officers- Dr. Saloni Sidana and Mr. Ashish Vashishta, marry in a very simple, basic ceremony, spending Rs. 500 on their marriage ceremony in total. She returned to duty 48 hours later, and distributing sweets to her colleagues in her office as a sign of happiness.

Even though Dr. Sidana and Mr. Vashishta are not financially weak, they set an excellent example by prioritising their budgeting. A marriage, like any other ceremony, is just one occasion in a persons’ life, and it doesn’t make sense to squander your entire life’s savings on just one event.

Instead, we must get out of this mentality of pleasing our relatives and neighbours with a show of riches, and live life for ourselves, using our resources to improve the quality of our own lives.

After all, the various distant relatives and neighbours who attend a ceremony are not going to pay for your education or healthcare.

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: Hindustan Times, Financial ExpressIndian Express

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