The Bihar Post

Distraught Bihar villagers scramble to cancel weddings as COVID-19 cases surge

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PATNA—A number of families in Bihar have either cancelled the booking of wedding and banquet halls or postponed weddings due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation in the state.

The main reason for the cancellation is that the state government has restricted the number of total wedding guests to 50 following a spurt in coronavirus cases.

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Sheetal Kumari’s parents had booked a grand wedding resort in Patna for her marriage scheduled to be solemnised on January 19. The family even distributed wedding cards among relatives, friends and office colleagues but has now cancelled the wedding in view of fresh curbs imposed by the state government to check the spread of the surging COVID-19.

“I wanted a grand wedding which is currently prohibited under the COVID-19 restrictions. The fresh wedding date will be decided later,” said the 26-year-old girl, a resident of Ashiana Colony in Patna. Sheetal is disappointed over the cancellation of her wedding at the eleventh hour.

Her family is not alone.

Brajesh Mishra, a resident of Patna’s Kankabagh locality, considered Asia’s largest colony, is even more confused. Mishra, whose daughter’s wedding was scheduled to be solemnised on January 19 had distributed the invitation cards of his daughter before December 14. Now with the government restricting the number of guests for the wedding, he is not sure whom to include as guests to attend the wedding.

Unlike them, Anand Mishra whose daughter is getting married on January 20, has simply stopped sending invitations. “Selecting only 50 guests was a difficult task. So we decided to get my daughter married first in the presence of family members at home,” said Mishra. He added that he would throw a grand party to his friends and relatives when the situation gets normal.

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Deepak Kumar’s observation is different. “I had booked a marriage hall for Rs200,000 to accommodate a large number of guests for the wedding of my daughter but now I can’t invite more than 50. Spending this much amount for a mere 50 guests can’t be a good idea. So I have cancelled the booking and decided to hold a simple wedding at home,” Deepak said.

The new restrictions have come as a severe blow to the wedding/banquet hall owners, hoteliers, caterers and decorators as a result of cancellations, budget cuts or postponements. According to sources, some 4,000 bookings were made in various marriage gardens, wedding resorts and community halls in January, but most have been cancelled.

“Several people called up today to seek a refund for booking saying new dates would be decided later. We are yet to recover from the economic distress due to the lockdown and the fresh development is further worrying for us,” said Nolage Kumar, state secretary of All India Tent Decorators Welfare Association.

Manager of a prominent marriage lawn Sanjeev Suman said they had received 11 cancellations so far due to people opting for smaller wedding events. “Every time the government declares fresh restrictions, we are forced to bear the brunt,” Suman said, adding the banquet business had been in terrible shape for the past 18 months.

The new restriction has also come as a severe setback to music bands, shehnai players and chariot owners as they too have been banned. According to reports, such people would earn around Rs50,000 to Rs60,000 from every wedding.

Health authorities said the third wave in the state was spreading faster than the second one.

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