Why just Korean or Indian? Be it Peruvian or European, many young couples today are quite overt about their preferences for a wedding gift. Most express that cash would be best, though some (via their wedding invites) lead us to wedding registries at their preferred department stores. Some unabashedly have lists of luxury goods that a guest can select from as their gift for the forthcoming wedding. Yet some others state on their invites, “No boxed gifts please“! (Thus, taking away the opportunity for you to recycle your own wedding gifts).
The traditional custom of stuffing envelopes with cash and waiting in queues at the reception to hand them over to the ‘cashier’ is considered pretty normal at Indian weddings as well, just as it is at Korean weddings. While those in positions of power may view this as an avenue of bribery, this custom does indeed assist those not-so-affluent families and couples who need some preliminary assistance to begin a new life.
Centuries ago, the Indian concept of dowry also commenced with noble intentions. However, when any of these customs are taken too far by a few, the boon morphs into a bane that perpetuates in society. The excesses… the pomp, show, and vulgar lavish display of one’s wealth (or of “borrowed wealth” to save face) are unnecessary and undesirable.
Customs and traditions are so intricately woven into the fabric of different societies that it is hard to comment, one way or another, whether it is good or evil… it is just customary… as long as none of the customs are carried too far. Otherwise, why do people have baby showers, or bridal showers, or birthday parties, or anniversary celebrations or return favors… the list can be endless… it is all in the name of custom or tradition… it adds some spice to life. If it causes discomfort, stop participating (or perpetuating).
After reading about Kim Jong-chang’s daughter’s wedding, I just got carried away.