Sikh leaders are taking the initiative to curb extravagance at weddings. On Sunday, representatives of 17 gurudwaras met at Khar to discuss ways to do this and put an end to the game of one-upmanship associated with grand weddings among Sikh families.
"The meeting was to ensure that people spend less on marriages. These days marriage expenses run into lakhs. We feel the money wasted on fancy weddings should be utilised to better educate and socially uplift the community," said Pritam Singh, treasurer, Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Khar, where the meting was held.
Sikh weddings have, over the years, grown in grandiosity with members of the community growing richer. The catering rates per plate in some of these marriages are as high as Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000.
"The trend is to have Mexican, Italian, Thai and Chinese dishes with a large number of sweets added in. However, there isn't a matching capacity to eat, the result often being a lot of food being wasted. But this splurging, instead of triggering consternation, make many others in the community feel inferior and envious. We are now thinking in terms of introducing a code of conduct where not more than one dal, two/three vegetables, raitas, etc are served," said Kanwal Nain Singh, chairperson of the trust looking after Gurudwara Kalgidhar Sabha in Dahisar.
Decorations too eat into the purse, say Gurudwara representatives. "There was a time when people conducted marriages spending just a few thousand rupees," said Avtar Singh Sachdev, president, Khar Gurudwara, who took the initiative in organising the meeting.
"These days, even at gatherings post death (of a person), a number of dishes are served. It's unnecessary, tea and light snacks should do."
In the meeting it was decided to approach more Gurudwaras in the city on the issue. They are expected to make announcements at Sunday gatherings and Kirtans to help spread the word among the community.
"In Sikhism, one has to spend 10% of one's budget for social upliftment. Garib ka mu guru ki golakh (mouth of the poor is coffer of the Guru); that's what Sikkism teaches," said Manmohan Singh, secretary, Sri Guru Singh Sabha, central body of all Sikhs. He added: It's in fact aadesh or order of the SGPC that 5% of the budget should go towards social betterment."