News Source: business-standard.com
Will Omicron deal another blow to India's wedding industry?
News Source/Courtesy: business-standard.com

But when it became evident that Covid-19 was here to stay, Zoom weddings and intimate ceremonies -- with just family members and close friends -- became the trend. This obviously was not good news for the vibrant marriage industry in India.

It suffered huge losses. And there was no word on lakhs of workers employed in the unorganised sector in small cities and towns. More than a year later, and after bracing two coronavirus waves, the sector was finally finding its feet.

Big fat Indian weddings were back towards the end of last year with families splurging the money saved up during the pandemic.

Our Instagram feeds were filled with pictures of friends either getting married or attending a marriage. The wedding business was returning to normalcy. Such was the rush that venues were booked months ahead and hotels were charging a premium for some auspicious dates.

But it all seems to have come to a standstill again, with the onset of Omicron. States including Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have limited the number of guests that can attend a wedding.

Rajasthan, a popular destination for extravagant marriages, has capped the number of wedding guests at 100.

The government in Delhi, one of India’s biggest wedding markets, has curtailed the number of guests at a wedding to a mere 20. It also went one step further and ordered weddings to be held only in a court or at home, dealing a huge blow to hotels and banquet halls.

Another round of restrictions is forcing people to postpone weddings. Some are going ahead with a pruned list of guests.

But even the close relatives add up to 100 or more. As Delhi capped the number of attendees to just 20, people are in a dilemma whom to invite and whom not to.

And the wedding industry is again in a quandary. When India’s first lockdown was announced nearly two years ago, couples across the country postponed their wedding plans in the hope that the pandemic would soon go away.

We spoke with Ashish Boobna, Director of FNP Weddings and Events, which plans events across India, to understand how the new restrictions have impacted their business.

An estimated 10 million weddings take place in India every year and the Indian wedding market is estimated to be worth $80 billion per year. And it is growing rapidly.

Murugavel Janakiraman, the founder and CEO of Matrimony.com, told Business Standard in a recent interview that he expects the wedding industry to touch $500 billion in ten years.

The marriage sector has a multiplier effect on the economy. In addition to event management firms and hotels, weddings involve the services of more than two dozen sectors like catering, flowers, jewellery, clothing, photography, decorations, transport and entertainment to name a few.

A large number of temporary jobs are also created during the wedding seasons, which is going to be affected now. Business worth roughly Rs 4 lakh crore was expected to be generated in the upcoming wedding season that begins from the third week of January and lasts up to March.

The Confederation of All India Traders has said the wedding trade is now likely to be reduced to just Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

In the first phase of the wedding season in November and December last year, traders registered seasonal turnover of about Rs 3 lakh crore, according to CAIT. Jewellery sales may also cool down if there is a decline in the number of weddings. Gold demand was robu st last year as pent-up demand emerged for weddings that were delayed when the pandemic first hit.

Delhi’s wedding industry is hoping for the government to revisit its decision before the wedding season resumes again from the third week of January.

But the government is also in a bind as the new Covid-19 variant is spreading very fast.

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News Source: business-standard.com

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