Looking like a princess for the day is big business in India, primarily because of the vast amounts of jewellery bought by party-goers.
Indeed, commodity analysts have blamed spikes in the price of gold during September on preparations for the six-month marriage season, which starts in October.
In 2009, India accounted for a quarter of all gold used in jewellery products and it is the world's biggest jewellery market, ahead of China, the US or the Middle East.
Gold has also been a standard medium of exchange for Indian people over the centuries and almost the only means of saving in rural areas, which still account for 70% of the population.
Indian bullion trader Metier Capital Management says gold has huge religious significance in the subcontinent, which also contributes to demand.
In Hindu mythology, gold is the essence from which the universe was created, and Manu, the ancient lawgiver, decreed that golden ornaments should be worn for specific ceremonies and occasions. As a result throughout Indian society it has become a symbol of purity, prosperity and good fortune.
The Hindu calendar even includes auspicious days on which to buy gold during these festivals, and other periods that counsel against it.
Custom demands that gold be bought for special occasions such as weddings, births and birthdays, as well as for religious festivals, particularly for Diwali, which is celebrated by Jains and Sikhs as well as Hindus.
This six-day "festival of light" normally falls in the fourth quarter of the year, and core parts of the celebrations are honouring wealth and prosperity, and performing acts of generosity by giving away wealth – mainly in the form of gold.
But the biggest demand for gold comes from the deeply ingrained custom of giving gold at weddings. Soon after children are born, families start saving either for the stridhan, the gifts given to the bride which become her exclusive property, to act as insurance against hard times, or the dowry that is given to the family of the groom.
It is estimated that gold and jewellery make up to 50% of total Indian marriage expenses.
India's influence over the gold bullion market is well established, according to Natalie Dempster, the head of investment research at the World Gold Council. She said jewellery accounts for nearly 70% of all demand for gold and that India buys 25% of global jewellery output.
"Indian demand is certain to increase as household incomes go up and people will buy more gold as wealth spreads more evenly around the country," said Dempster.
(SOURCE: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ )
(photo :Indian bride wearing traditional gold jewellery on her hands. Photograph: Raminder Pal Singh/EPA)