What makes the Indian bride beautiful?

By Sreekumar Raghavan
The legendary investment guru Jim Rogers once said that India has the most beautiful women in the world and worst netas (leaders). The nation also produced one Miss World and one Miss Universe. It is wedding season now and indeed the jewelleries are crowded everywhere despite the yellow metal attaining new record levels recently. In wedding ceremonies, apart from the bride and groom what is most eagerly watched is the jewels that the bride wears.


Indeed there is a strong perception that Indian brides will look beatiful only if she is bedecked in Gold ornaments.The jewellery ads reinforce this belief further. One Joyalukkas ad runs like this: ‘Girl, what makes you beautiful: Alukkas….’. An ad from Bhima Jewellery, one of the oldest jewelleries in Kerala says gold is a must for a girl. In fact a content analysis of jewellery ads show that they can only focus on one or two attributes– purity and design of the brand and second that it enhances the beauty of the Indian woman.

The latest ad film of Joyalukkas features renowned Bollywood singer Shreya Ghoshal who loves pure music and pure gold.

Dowry system has been banned in the country but bridegrooms parents insist that gold be given as gift to the bride and hence the rising demand for jewellery despite rising prices. Although there is public outcry against gifting gold jewellery to brides at the time of wedding, not many are willing to break the convention. Indian households have the highest collection of gold in the world estimated at 18,000 tonnes by the World Gold Council.

There are economic and historic reasons behind the amazing growth in holdings in Indian households. Indian banking system continues to be out of reach in many rural and sub-urban areas in the country with the results farmers and workers would invest their savings in Gold or Silver ornaments. This enable them to preserve the value of wealth created and enable them to avail loans when ever required. Renowned economist, Jagadish Bhagawati has pointed out in one of his text books that high quantity of gold holdings in Indian households signify under-development of the economy. Money that could have been profitably invested for nation development is being spent on something as useless as gold or silver jewellery, he pointed out.

Gold is seen as a symbol of wealth and there are auspicious days to buy on some days such as Akshaya Tritiya in India when jewelers expect huge sales volumes.

As gold prices climb new heights, the average Indian parents, especially in states like Kerala are really worried and concerned about how to buy gold for the wedding season as the sudden spurt has taken many unawares.

Perhaps it may not be easy to do away with a tradition or convention easily. An upcoming actress from Kerala, Reema Kallingal has perhaps raised the voice of the younger generation with a modern outlook when she said in a recent interview that she can’t understand the concern about rising gold prices. She finds no reason in this frenzy for gold ornaments although there is no harm in seeing the yellow metal as an investment option. “A woman’s personality is to be displayed through her inner beauty, thoughts and deeds,” according to Reema Kallingal. Perhaps, as gold skyrockets to all time highs, it the right time to do away with ‘dowry’ system and display brides as ‘priced commodities’ wearing costly ornaments. Any takers for this view?

(The author is Managing Editor of Commodity Online and may be contacted at sk@commodityonline.com)
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