For thousands of years in India, gold has formed a fundamental part of marital unions.
The bride’s family ensures that their daughter is adorned in thousands of dollars’ worth of gold jewels, serving as her financial security after she joins her husband.
The more gold a woman can bring into a marriage, the greater her financial control in her married life will be. It symbolises power to her husband, and that she has her own independent assets.
In fact, young Indian women begin receiving gifts of gold from as early as their childhood years, preparing them for their future wedding day.
As a result, the demand for gold in the country is one of the largest in the world, with India now the number two consumer of gold jewellery on the planet behind China, Reuters reports, accounting for 32 per cent of the global gold market.
Because of this, the price of gold rises in the leadup to the Indian wedding season, which runs from September through to January.
But with the increasing restriction of imports, a gold shortage is looming over the country, propelling Indian men to request larger quantities of gold than ever before.
The state of Kerala alone uses up to 400 grams of gold per wedding, translating to 80 tonnes per year.
“The tendency among our parents (has become) to sell residential property to buy gold for marriages and go for rented houses,” K.C. Rosakutty, chairperson of the Kerala Women’s Commission told Reuters.
“This is creating a lot of trouble for families.”
In response to this, the women’s commission of India’s Kerala state is hoping to cap the amount of gold given at weddings to 80 grams (roughly 224,800 rupees or US$3,600) in hopes of reducing the financial burden on families and easing India’s trade deficit.
But experts are skeptical of the commission’s plans taking flight.
“Gold is more of a culturally deep-rooted thing, and this would find resistance among women themselves,” said Rammohan Kamath, secretary of the Calicut Bullion Dealers Association in Kerala.
“This will all remain on paper. Even for political parties, the gold jewellery business is a big money spinner for elections.”
India’s gold imports have dropped by more than 50 percent in recent months from their previous average levels of about 60 tonnes per month.
If the proposal were to be accepted, it could see an end to the county’s deep-seeded fascination with gold and change this historical wedding tradition for good.