We have one going on in our family. My dear cousin Malay is getting married. The trouble is almost everyone realizes that there are things about the wedding that are antediluvian but nobody feels like changing anything.
Take the gifts given by the two sides to each other. There are gifts not only for the bride and the groom but also a lot of 'important' people on either side. The gifts are not so much out of love as they are about 'looking good'. The most ridiculous part about gift giving is that the gifts are all displayed for everyone to see and then - hold your breath - the list is announced in front of the elders of the society! How pathetic is that? Why make a public spectacle of this?
Another thing that is evident in most traditional marriages is the absolute supremacy of the 'boy's side'. India is a hopelessly male-dominated society. Marriages make for one of the most vulgar displays of this domination. The 'girl's side' is supposed to behave in a completely servile fashion. Every wish of anyone in the 'boy's side' is supposed to be their command! Though, in some families, the extent of servitude is decreasing, the mindsets are still the same.
One of the most disgusting aspects of weddings is the tendency to show-off. 'X spent this much on a wedding, so I must spend at least twice that much!" or "Y brought the baraatis by a chartered flight. I must do so too!" This kind of competitive celebration is really sad and totally unnecessary.
Relationships have become so commercial. I often wonder how a husband and wife can live happily together and with true love for each other after the shameless and utterly disgusting negotiations that go on in the name of 'dowry'. And it is shocking that in this day and age, so many educated people still practise this horrendous tradition. It had all become so institutionalized that the woman, who has been through so much at the time of her 'dowry' negotiation would not hesitate to do the same to another woman when she has a son and it is time for him to get married!
Thankfully, in our community, the practise of 'dowry' has been entirely done away with. But it is really high time the other antiquated traditions are also abolished.