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The Rediff Special/Onkar Singh
April 22, 2004
Laxmi Gardens on the New Delhi-Haryana border hums with activity. Relatives and friends of Virender Sehwag, India's explosive opening batsman, have started pouring in for his wedding scheduled for 6 pm on April 22.
Thursday evening, Sehwag will leave his Najafgarh home to the accompaniment of drums and dhols for Law Minister Arun Jaitley's 9 Ashoka Road home, venue of his wedding to Arti Ahlawat.
But he won't be the only one to tie the knot on April 22. When Veeru, as he is fondly known, starts a fresh innings, his marriage will be among the 17,000 being solemnized across the national capital.
According to astrologer Ajay Bhambi, April 22 could be called "the mother of all weddings dates."
"The day is unique in the sense that it falls under Akshay Tritiya. Akshay in layman's language means unending. The Simhast Kumbh [currently underway in Ujjain] makes this occasion all the more auspicious. On this particular day you need not wait for a pandit to tell you what the Shubh Mahurat is. Marriages solemnised during this period are expected to be long-lasting. Those who have not got married because of not finding a Shubh Mahurat can tie the knot on Akshay Tritiya," Bhambi told rediff.com
Malini Kumar, who owns a banquet hall in South Delhi, told rediff.com that there was an unprecedented rush to book wedding halls and hotels for April 22. "I know many people had to go back disappointed but what can we do? We have limited space and only one wedding can take place in one banquet hall," she says.
P Moitra, a bride-to-be, says her parents had tremendous difficulty in booking a wedding hall for her marriage. "Though the wedding is taking place on April 22, we had booked the hall in November itself, otherwise we would have to wait for another date. If I were getting married a week later the hall would have cost us half the price. Our panditji is also booked heavily. He told us he would be rushing to four different places on that night," says Moitra.
Sehwag's prospective father-in-law, a senior advocate, would have also been forced to look for an alternative venue had Jaitley had not offered his Ashoka Road home for the wedding.
Inderjit Singh, caterer and tent supplier, admits he has far too many orders on his hands than he can meet. "But a day like this comes once a year. Even if I have to employ more people I will ensure that arrangements for the dozen-odd weddings go off perfectly," he says.
I P S Bawa, vice-president of the Delhi State Artists Welfare association and an event manager, told rediff.com there was big demand for DJs and live shows for April 22. "We have about 2,000 DJs in Delhi and 1,500 live show performers. All of them have been booked. The DJs charge between Rs 15,000 and Rs 1 lakh depending on the demand, while those doing live shows charge anything between Rs 15,000 and Rs 50,000 per show," he says.
Pandit Dinanath has reason to be happy because he is is in great demand on such a day, and priests can charge a premium. "Aise din baarbaar nahin aya karte hain (such days do not come often)," he says, his face lit up by a big smile, before doing the disappearing act.
Such demand also means many service providers can quote their price, which is normally not the case. Bands and others are said to be charging much more than their normal fare for Thursday. "Looking at the rush I have decided to postpone my daughter's wedding to another date. A week later my expenses would come down by Rs 50,000, money that I can use for other purposes," says Mohan Singh Rawat. He is clearly in a minority though.
With 17,000 baraats expected to go out, traffic in many parts of the capital could be affected, but Ravi Pawar, public relations officer of the Delhi police, is confident the extra deployment being planned will ensure that is not the case.
"There are some restrictions placed on wedding parties in certain areas. For instance, marriage parties heading for farmhouses are not allowed to dance on roads and block the traffic. If you feel the DJ is playing music loudly, any citizen can phone 100 and lodge a complaint. Our attempt would be to see that the day passes off without a hitch in any part of Delhi," Pawar told rediff.com