Traditionally in the Mr’s customs people don’t gift anything to the bride and groom during weddings. Close knit elder relatives give a pre-defined amount of money to the bride and groom, that too not at the Kalyana mandapam or at the reception – in one of the pre or post visits to either house. The reason why no gifts are given is this – if you were to gift somebody some article; then the receiving party will take care of noting the article and will have to seek an occasion to compensate you with another article of the approximate price. This is an unwritten rule. So, giving and receiving gifts is considered blasphemy.
Now, on my side of the family the story, though similar, is presented in a different way. If you walk to any wedding without a gift, it is considered very bad. This too, has started to cause a problem.
Amma’s view on this - About 30 years ago, gifts at occasions meant a lot. It was often very useful for the couple starting their married life. Back in those days, the money earned by people often was just sufficient to meet daily needs and there was nearly none to satisfy wants; so gifts given at a wedding covered those wants and were highly regards. A wall clock, a water filter, a frying pan, a cooker, a decorative wall hanging, a sari – were all received with much gusto and were put to right use. Then people started growing rich, had more money – so were able to buy any ‘want’ thing on their own; and gifts received at weddings became too much of redundancy. They just lie around in the attic of most houses, waiting for another wedding / grihapravesam to be disposed off at.
In some cases, I have seen a new trend emerging – the concept of giving money or gift cards. That to larger extent seems to be what most people are appreciative of. Your ‘gift money’ may not be big enough for me to buy something, but it helps me to add something to it and get myself something I like – is the philosophy.
Personally I have never been able to decided for sure - gift or ‘gift money’. I always loved the ‘gift opening activity’ during weddings and would tag along with the group doing this activity in almost every wedding. There is so much pleasure is unwrapping a gift box, all the while trying to guess what would be inside it – and to end the task with a “Oooooh!” or “Ohhhhhh”.
But then when you have a big pile of things that you would rather not add to your personal collection and are at wit’s end not knowing what to do with it – I think ‘gift money’ is a nice option. Having personally experienced this at my wedding, I can safely say that, except in 1 or 2 cases; it was the ‘gift money’ or ‘gift card’ that proved to be a nice “GIFT”.