Why should there be a surcharge for having a Hindu wedding?

(RNS) — In June my spouse and I will be able to make our contribution to the USA’ $51 billion marriage ceremony business. Sure, weddings are about family and friends, however they’re additionally about the price. Weddings are dear. Mine, which goes to price greater than my automobile, is in line with the nationwide reasonable of greater than $22,000.

In my circle of relatives, the expectancies a few correct marriage ceremony are excessive. Indian weddings are lavish, colourful spectacles and feature handiest develop into extra so over the years. Even within the U.S., the place Indian weddings are frequently muted compared to the ones carried out in India, the party comes to a number of occasions; many visitors; a flower-bedecked marriage ceremony platform or mandapa; an concerned, long rite; and numerous meals.

Did I point out the meals? The largest driving force of our prices is the collection of visitors we want to feed, which determines the price of catering and alcohol.

Here’s the place the marriage megamarket operates in opposition to a spiritual and ethnic minority like me. My most commonly vegetarian South Indian circle of relatives expects a reception dinner with Indian, vegetarian delicacies. My spouse and I’ve checked out over a dozen marriage ceremony venues, and maximum had an inventory of most popular caterers — some puts banned any caterer no longer on their checklist outright, whilst others simply charged an extra price for the use of a caterer no longer on the most well liked checklist.


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This custom is extra not unusual than it’s possible you’ll suppose, and no longer just for caterers. Marriage ceremony venues make offers with florists, celebration condominium businesses, marriage ceremony planners, photographers, DJs and different distributors to supply {couples} an all-in-one marriage ceremony revel in. For many {couples}, this makes best sense. In the end, marriage ceremony making plans is like having a 2nd task; who wouldn’t need to save time by way of narrowing your choices for those services and products?

However what in case you don’t have compatibility into the one-size-fits-all marriage ceremony package deal? Regardless of the rising collection of South Asians within the U.S. and the relative price of an Indian marriage ceremony, out of doors of huge city spaces with sizable South Asian populations, the choices for catering an Indian marriage ceremony stay slender.

That is the problem we confronted in Colorado, the place the South Asian inhabitants is estimated at about 30,000. A number of marriage ceremony venues in our house indexed a unmarried high-end catering outfit that would supply north and south Indian foods as a most popular caterer. Even though well-reviewed and well-versed in Indian delicacies, the caterer was once additionally by way of a long way the most costly one on many lists.

If we selected to cater our marriage ceremony with brisket, after all, shall we steer clear of the issue. However the loss of selection quantities to a pricey additional top class for falling out of doors of the native cultural norms. 

A conventional curd rice dish. Photograph by way of Sumeet B/Unsplash/Ingenious Commons

Is that this “Hinduphobia”? No. It’s an instance of ways markets form ethnic and cultural practices or trivialize them as unique tours for the rich. Since Indian or Hindu weddings are a distinct segment product within the marriage ceremony business, venues and caterers have little incentive to believe the have an effect on in their insurance policies on such weddings. 

Whilst it’s true that companies can’t believe each and every conceivable buyer, the marriage business is within the industry of marketing reports: Weddings are cultural occasions. One-stop-shop weddings that heart Christian conventions with “American” menus would possibly maximize earnings for his or her distributors, however in addition they make a observation about what sort of weddings are essential and which want to pony up for get admission to. It’s simply the price of being “different.”

One technique to my drawback can be for venues to supply flexibility and affordability to these for whom the one-stop-shop marriage ceremony in reality represents much less comfort and extra cultural exclusion.

However the marriage ceremony business isn’t the one instance of the way in which markets flatten ethnic and cultural range and capitalize on specialty. Beauty and hair care corporations, lots of that have been traditionally detached to nonwhite pores and skin tones or “ethnic” hair, now frequently fee extra for those “specialised” merchandise. Clothes corporations that supply “unique” ethnic and Indigenous types to rich white shoppers and jewellery corporations that advertise their logo handiest via a heteronormative view of affection additionally search to monetize distinction.

In each and every case, the marketplace determines how a lot more the privilege of get admission to will price or if it’s even to be had. The base line: Cultural distinction prices extra. 

Weddings are supposed to be distinctive, once-in-a-lifetime reports through which households come in combination to rejoice a pair’s new starting, their lifestyles in combination. However having an Indian marriage ceremony signifies that specialty might come at an extra price.


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Additionally, this type of observe additional isolates the ones with area of interest cultural backgrounds and successfully sends the message that positive communities should pay additional for “equivalent” get admission to. Why will have to there be a surcharge for having a Hindu marriage ceremony?

This column is produced by way of Faith Information Provider with reinforce from the Guru Krupa Basis.

(Dheepa Sundaram is an assistant professor of non secular research on the College of Denver who writes about virtual tradition, yoga, nationalism and faith. The perspectives expressed on this statement don’t essentially mirror the ones of Faith Information Provider.)