The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Community pledge to curtail pomp

Extravagance is out and austerity is in. The corporate cost-cutting mantra has started seeping into the city’s Marwari community. The International Marwari Federation and the Posta Bazar Merchants’ Association have jointly adopted a resolution on Saturday to phase out “unproductive and wasteful” expenses incurred during various social functions.

The associations appealed to community members — numbering around 30 lakh in the city — to “stop splurging on the ring ceremony, distribution of sweets and dry fruits during tilak, sagai and at birthday parties”. They have put a ban on dowry and musical programmes, besides setting the limit on food items served at social gatherings at 21. Neither can the groom’s family demand any amount as milni with the organisations urging on reviving the custom of paying “just four paper notes”.

“We request everyone to follow the measures. This will not only make things easier for parents marrying off their daughters, but will also release resources for productive investment,” said S.N. Bajaj, president of International Marwari Federation and Trinamul MLA. Shyamsundar Agarwal of Posta Bazar Merchants’ Association announced that all its members would abide by the resolution.

Noted Hindi novelist and industrialist Prabha Khaitan welcomed the move and urged the young generation to come forward to remove the “social vice”. “Our community has always been known for its wealth. But with the recession in the industry, we must stop showing off.”

Khaitan, whose novels are based on the changing face of the community, said the trend, which can be traced to the late 70s, became the norm in the 90s. “Everyone started competing and finally crossing limits,” she added.

According to Sundeep Bhutoria, president of the federation’s youth wing, this practice had played havoc in the industry. “Extravagance in a marriage has become the yardstick of financial strength. People borrow money from the market in a bid to show off and thereby rise in esteem in the eyes of private financiers. This must stop to stem payment defaults in future transactions,” he said.

The move will not be restricted to the city alone. Sajjan Saraf, president of the federation’s India chapter, announced that regional units in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan have decided to support the move.

But not everyone is convinced. “I doubt whether people will let go of a good marriage offer in order to comply with the appeal,” said Nawal Joshi of Gangaur.

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