Dance in a virtual sangeet: How the big, fat Indian wedding got a digital makeover


Ulageswari R is a dreamer. She has at all times wished to have a lavish wedding, one with 1000’s of family and friends participating in elaborate ceremonies.

She was engaged to Sivavallinathan A in February, and so they had been to be married on June 10. They had even booked Chennai’s standard multi-purpose corridor, Kalaignar Arangam, as their wedding mandapam.

But then, the pandemic and ensuing lockdown arrived. Ulageswari and household needed to re-think their choices. They determined to retain the wedding date, however modified the venue to their residence on Chennai’s East Coast Road. A buddy was roped in to assist with decorations in their parking space.

When they tied the knot, there have been 30 in attendance, in individual. But a number of lots of joined in nearly, by means of a particular app and web site that that they had created with the assist of Chennai-based Wedding Wishlist.

“I have no regrets, and it was a beautiful four-hour ceremony during which we did not rush through rituals. Nor did I have to keep smiling at random people throughout,” remembers Ulageswari, an ENT surgeon whose low-key on-line wedding additionally reduce her expenditure to one-fifth of her unique finances.

Hers is the first of ‘virtual weddings’ in her household.

Elsewhere, throughout Chennai and different elements of India, it’s a phenomenon quick catching up.

Kanika Subbiah, Founder of Wedding Wishlist, vouches for that. Her firm had zero requests for weddings in March and April, months throughout which everybody was uncertain about the manner going ahead. Things picked up in May. “Couples started realising they could not wait indefinitely to get married; the answer lay in hosting celebrations that were safe and waste-free,” says Kanika, whose firm helped in placing collectively 14 virtual weddings in June and about 20 in July.

For this month, they’ve a lineup of just about one virtual wedding a day.

Caught in the internet

Families planning these weddings are more and more leveraging expertise. But that comes with its personal challenges: {couples} started to overlook the social interactions with friends, one in every of the finest elements of any Indian wedding.

“Live stream solely permits passive viewing, however with virtual weddings, we attempt to ship the complete wedding expertise on-line. The couple’s web site turns into the virtual hub, the on-line model of ‘shaadi ka ghar’,” she provides. In addition to watching a reside webcast, friends can even attend on-line events, share images with different invitees and partake in pre-wedding capabilities like bachelor events and bridal showers.

All this may appear simple for folks clued in to expertise, however not for these, for whom the phrase ‘online’ continues to be a bit overseas. That is the place the position of a usher, priced at ₹4,999 per wedding, comes into play.

Right click on

  • With weddings logging on, matchmaking too is quick catching up. Earlier in January, matrimony portal Jeevansathi.com rolled out a video calling function. With the ongoing pandemic, this selection grew to become much more related. The greatest problem for {couples} was that they may not meet up in individual, and therefore the have to go for such options. “During the COVID-19 period, there has been a whopping 200% increase in the number of connected calls. The average call duration has increased to 3X compared to the pre-COVID-19 period,” states Rohan Mathur, Business Head, including, “Our Milan Samaroh events (virtual meet-and-greets) have facilitated a large number of virtual meetups in this period to help accelerate the search process.”
  • Things should not very totally different at Matrimony.com both. Over eight lakh members have proven curiosity in the ‘video call’ function by upgrading to the newest model of the app, states its founder and CEO Murugavel Janakiraman. “A few lakh users have already used the video call to connect to their matches and take the conversation forward. The feature provides privacy controls to individuals, and allows matches to connect via video call without exchanging phone numbers.”
  • Under their MatrimonyBazaar, the firm has additionally launched ‘home weddings’ that assist organise weddings at clients’ houses with beneath 50 friends. More than 800 enquiries have been obtained and a few weddings have been performed beneath this section. “The big, fat Indian wedding will take some time to come back,” provides Janakiraman. Till then, wedding bells will proceed to ring at house and thru cellphones.

Tanvi Saraf of Wedding Wishlist has already performed that position for six weddings now. She was the equal of a one who welcomes friends at the reception, in a pre-COVID wedding. “I give guests a sense of the flow of events, so that they know what to expect. Even as there is a live stream happening, we create separate virtual rooms for different sections of the guests, so that nobody is lost. When you have 200 guests on a Zoom call, most of whom you don’t know, it becomes a little uncomfortable to talk to all,” says Tanvi.

Her job additionally entails internet hosting friends in separate virtual rooms, with folks they’ll converse with. “I also help elders who might not be too tech-savvy but are very interested in watching the proceedings.”

Music on the home

One of the first issues that Tarini Arun Kumar and Raashid Navlahi, primarily based out of Bangalore, thought of when placing collectively their wedding was the music it could function.

“We’re both big fans of Bollywood music. We imagined all our friends abroad and family coming in, and having a big party,” remembers Tarini, who works in the spirits trade.

Festivities at the wedding

That was to not be resulting from the lockdown. But the virtual sangeet they put forth a week earlier than their wedding in June, greater than compensated for it. “I thought it would be just a virtual get-together, but I was surprised to see that some friends had roped in DJ Jasmeet from Bangalore for it. He suddenly popped on the screen, had a fun DJ-like background and played for a solid hour.”

The music, which included standard Bollywood numbers like ‘Chogada’ and remixes of ‘Channa Mereya’, not solely got the couple dancing but in addition their 40-plus buddies from throughout the globe who had joined them nearly. “It was as if we were all together. It was crazy,” she exclaims.

Chennai-based ‘Kalyanamalai’ TV Mohan describes these altering occasions in the wedding trade as “revolutionary”. Known for his Tamil matrimonial ‘Kalyanamalai’ on Sun TV — a present that introduces potential brides and grooms accompanied by their mother and father — Mohan says, “Connections between family members and the creation of new families are necessary to help us stay in touch with the human in us. Virtual weddings, which are on the rise now, are helping families experience this in ways we didn’t even think was possible a few years, or even months, ago.”

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