Sun, Jul 15, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Indian Sikhs call for more modest, simpler weddings

MORAL RESPONSIBILITY Economic growth is driving a surge in wildly elaborate weddings which leaders of the Sikh religion say are wasteful and exploitative

AP , NEW DELHI

Endless buffets, rivers of alcohol and extravagant decorations have become staples at upper-class Indian weddings -- but Sikh leaders are considering creating guidelines to tone down the glittering events, a newspaper reported yesterday.

A group of Sikh leaders called for a July 28 meeting of representatives from New Delhi's more than 400 Sikh gurdwaras, or temples, to discuss ways to rein in over-the-top weddings, the Times of India reported.

"The committee feels that ostentatious weddings are leading to increasing competition among families to outdo each other," Paramjit Singh Sarna, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, said in the report.

"A lot of money is being wasted," he said.

India's economic growth has surged in recent years, with the GDP growing by more than 8 percent annually in the past four years.

The boom has created a new class of incredibly wealthy Indians who can afford palatial homes, imported luxury cars and wildly elaborate weddings, often at five-star hotels.

The religion of Sikhism was founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak, who broke from Hinduism, which continues to be India's dominant religion.

He preached the equality of races and genders, and the rejection of image-worship and the caste system.

Sikhs make up less than 2 percent of India's nearly 1.1 billion people.

The Sikh leaders said the deluxe wedding trend puts an unfair burden on brides' families, who traditionally pay for the parties.

"Our fight is against this exploitation by those who pose demands on the girl's family to organize elaborate weddings," the newspaper quoted the group's general secretary, Balbir Singh, as saying. "The ceremony should be simple."

Sarna said it was more a matter of values than taste.

"The idea is to create moral responsibility within the community," he said.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara s Committee could not immediately be reached for comment on the report yesterday.

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