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To Brad and Angelina: Regarding Rumors of Your Indian Wedding

December 29, 2010
In Bombay during their last visit

Dear Angelina and Brad,

The papers recently have been putting out little tidbits about your plans of having a wedding in India.   Now your personal life is really none of our business, and that’s not why we are writing.

What we at The 50 Million Missing Campaign are really concerned about is celebrities (foreign and Indian) promoting the “big, fat Indian wedding” by having one of their own in India. Let us explain why…

Celebrity couples like Elizabeth Hurley and Arun Nayar, and of late – Katy Perry and Russel Brand, seem to have set off a trend for glamorous weddings in exotic locales in India. If you have the money you can actually rent a magnificent, old palace or even a good chunk of a wildlife safari park for a few days for your wedding party. With an army of staff waiting on you hand-and-foot, eagerly fulfilling your every little wish, you can see why an Indian wedding is such a charm. You and your guests can actually fantasize what it’s like being an Indian prince and princess for a few days! And then all the spectacular trimmings that come with it – the silks, satins, jewelries, decked camels and elephants, troupes of entertainers – it is truly the Disney fantasy land for adults!!!

The problem is that big, extravagant Indian weddings like these have a downside to them that is extremely detrimental to Indian society.

Weddings like this act like fuel for the culture of greed and criminal extortion (in the form of dowry) that have become an inseparable part of weddings across all strata of Indian society. These glamorous weddings – reinforce the ethos of shameless consumerism that underlies the demands for dowry, and condone the immoral grabbing of wealth from the bride and her family in India.

But the darkest price that is paid is through the lives of thousands of young women who become victims of violence and murder induced by dowry greed. The thing about greed is – there is no stopping it. Please read about our “War on Dowry” movement.

This is why we think it is so important to delink WEALTH and WEDDINGS. It is what our campaign is aiming for!

The fact is “the big fat Indian wedding” is part and parcel of the big fat dowry, the monstrous greed, and the monstrous violence that is inflicted on married women for dowry.  And so it is very important that we do not condone this trend of people wanting the big, extravagant Indian wedding.

Celebrity couples who organize lavish wedding extravaganzas in India – are doing just the opposite. They are condoning and reinforcing the ethos that connects wealth and weddings in India. Think of how the international and Indian media camped around the Katy-Russel wedding venues for days, and reported on every little exorbitant, exotic detail. Think of how much good they could have done with that kind of exposure, if they had only thought a little more about the culture where they set up their dream-wedding island? Or perhaps, to be fair – maybe they didn’t even realize the negative long-term impact of what they were doing?

So Brad and Angelina — we have a dual purpose here.

1)To raise your awareness about Indian weddings and their implications.

2) To suggest a few worthwhile ideas for your wedding (if indeed you plan to have it in India), because given the kind of media exposure that celebrities have we think you can actually help us out here in the social change we are aiming for with regards to dowry!

India is proud of its wedding traditions. Indians like to believe that weddings are about family, spirituality, and communal good will. These are the values that very important to emphasize, and we have a few suggestions for how you can do it.  It is all very well to go to shelters and preach against dowry and violence, but what really makes an impact is how you conduct your own wedding.  So here goes:

1) If you have the money to spend to lease a venue — avoid 5-star hotels and wildlife parks! How about a village or a tribal community? Why not funnel your money into a place where it will directly help the people and community?

2) Avoid the silk and satin costumes from exclusive boutiques. Why not get the simplest, hand-spun cotton (not from a fancy 5-star shop) but purchased directly from the women who weave these cloths? Get one of the small tailors from the local market to stitch your clothes for you? If you want the real feel of the culture – why not go to the real people? And people who your purchases will actually help?

3) Don’t buy gold and jewelry from overpriced jewelers in exclusives shopping arcades. Get the colorful beads and handmade stuff from the little shops in the local market. Better still – get one of those flower vendors you see running around the market (not the expensive flower boutiques) to make garlands and bracelets for you. They will be delighted, and they need the money!

4) For your wedding presents, ask your friends to donate to charities or foundations of your choice. Ask them to hand you the checks and that you will send it in to the organization telling them that that is your wedding present.

5) Organize at least one part of your wedding at an orphanage or any other charitable home or shelter of your choice.

6) If you want any kind of religious or spiritual ceremony at your wedding – Hindu, Christian or Muslim, or indeed something eclectic and you wish for a priest or spiritual leader to preside, may we please – as a campaign fighting femicide in India — suggest that you request that it be a woman!

© The 50 Million Missing Campaign. All Rights Reserved. Please see our copyright notice.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2010 11:42 am

    Good points. These celebs buy into the notion of the land of Bollywood-esque exotica as depicted by the western media. This is the real deal – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJjdbfVii-Q

    Unfortunately, there is only this trailer on YouTube. Saw most of it on TV the other night.

    Review here: http://www.screendaily.com/reviews/latest-reviews/pink-saris/5018188.article

  2. Vandana Sabharwal permalink
    December 29, 2010 2:47 pm

    Angelina and Brad, There is one major Indian belief that goes with significant landmarks (birth, marriage, birthdays, anniversaries, death) in an Indians life. And that is to donate to the poor. In turn you get “dua” which is deeper than blessings. Now-a-days there’s a shift in perspective, especially in those educated. And that is the whole point of the above article. The perspective is to support the local, round the corner entrepreneur who can make things prettier with their hard work, enthusiasm, and love! (Not with expensive glitzy accessories like designers use- who by the way “research” ideas across the world from indigenous people themselves!). This way, local people have a dignified means of livelihood and do not have to be poor/ begging. Thanks for your appreciation of Indian culture and the India’s people. Congratulations and best wishes on your wedding! Sincerely, Vandana

  3. Anita permalink
    December 30, 2010 2:08 am

    Brangelina have nothing to do with dowry which is already a problem in India. This article is too far fetched. Abolishing dowry is one thing but if a couple are choosing to have a destination wedding in India, I really don’t see what the writer of this article’s problem is. There are bigger issues pertaining to the inequality of women in India than worrying about a celebrity couple’s wedding.

  4. December 30, 2010 1:41 pm

    In order to be effective, the focus of this article must be narrowed. Valid as they may be, forget the things about not having silks and satins and star hotels.
    Instead, draw Brangelina’s attention to the Femicide and Dowry issue. Chances are they know little about it.

    They may at least take the time to get some information, and make some statement about the issues – they may even get involved to the best of their ability (probably donating money).

    My point is just: don’t dilute the focus. Focus on “Brad and Angelina, it’s great you chose India for your wedding. But do you know the ugly truth behind so many Indian weddings? dowry, bride-burning, and eventual infanticide…? Take time out of your holiday to investigate the reality so many Indian brides live in.”

    • December 31, 2010 10:33 am

      @sirensongs — the point of the article is celebrity couples can make a point about dowry by how they conduct their own weddings in India. It is the big fat Indian wedding that goes along with the monstrous dowry, the monstrous greed, and the monstrous violence. Make your point very simply but refusing to have the big fat wedding, refusing gifts, and instead of self-indulgently spending on yourself, use your wedding funds to do something constructive and socially useful as part of the celebrations.

  5. emery permalink
    January 3, 2012 10:21 pm

    this was interesting but I think most people in India don’t pay attention to American entertainment. in fact all the Indians Ive met so far hate it. what I’m far more concerned about are the actions of political and military leaders in India. for example i would like to know how many members of parliament have daughters vs. how many have only sons. of coarse its not just parliament that needs to be investigated in this area. many other officials in the government such as judges, mayors, governors, police chiefs, generals, heads of government ministries and other officials should be investigated. this could explain why the government has done almost nothing about the female genocide.

  6. August 23, 2014 8:07 am

    This is a well described post. Thanks to you.

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