Frugal Foreigner: Indian Birthday and Wedding Celebrations

How much would you spend on a birthday party for your kid? The birthday I’ve seen in have been quite over-the-top.  Some friends of ours invited us to a party with camel rides, an inflatable slide, a magic show, and face painting.

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Quite the party, but it was all only around $200 – you can’t beat that. We’ve seen other birthday parties with bouncy houses, incredible decorations, pony carts, and even 12 dressed-up little girls eating at a very expensive restaurant.  These are all from very well-off people, obviously.  Most working class celebrate quietly at home.  I hope my kids won’t be dismayed by the lack of camels at their future birthday parties.

Frugal ForeignerMoving on to weddings – how much did your wedding cost?  I would venture that my frugal wedding cost less than the saris worn by many Indian brides (and probably many American wedding dresses as well), especially since they wear a different sari for the reception.  We’ve attended both Hindu and Christian wedding ceremonies in India.  Both were marked by gorgeous fancy saris, lavishly decorated cars, rented facilities and a lot of food. It sounds like, as in America, even people with little money spend a lot on weddings.

Our first week in India, my brother’s sister-in-law was married in a Hindu ceremony in Bangalore.  The day before was a mehendi party.  This consisted of the bride-to-be, all her female relatives and friends and two henna tattoo artists – one for the bride and one for everyone else.

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After the wedding itself, a plantain leaf meal was served.  This is a traditional South Indian meal, and was served to approximately 400 guests in shifts.  This was my first time eating with my hands and I wasn’t very good at it.

I’ll just briefly mention dowry here. There are civil and criminal laws prohibiting it, but it is still very much expected in some parts of India.  And many families go into debt to pay it for their daughters.

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So, that’s just a little bit about some of the Indian celebrations we’ve seen.  Again, the slice of the population I’ve observed was definitely on the wealthier side, and at least for the birthday parties, you can get a lot for your money.

If you’re new to my posts, read all about what we’re doing in India here! You can read all previous posts in the series here.


  1. Jenni says

    That camel looks like it’s in pain. I hope not. I have heard heard horror stories about the animal cruelty in India from a friend who lived there.

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