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Why no Indian wedding is complete without gold

Published 0926 GMT (1726 HKT) August 20, 2015
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From the elaborate saris, to henna-painted hands, Indian weddings are often a kaleidoscope of color and ornamentation. And among the spectacular bridal jewelery, you can guarantee there will always be gold.
"As "They say: 'No gold, no wedding,'" said Divya Vithika, co-founder of Divya Vithika Wedding Planners, in Bangalore.
Courtesy Divya Vithika Wedding Planners
This wedding tradition is driving the country's huge appetite for gold -- which now accounts for a quarter of global demand. Courtesy Divya Vithika Wedding Planners
India is the second-biggest consumer of gold in the world, buying anywhere between 800 and 1,000 tons of the luminous metal every year, according to the World Gold Council.
"India has a huge impact on the global gold price," said Somasundaram PR, managing director of the World Gold Council in India.
"India's demand is largely in the form of jewellery -- of that, between 50% and 60% is bridal."
Courtesy Divya Vithika Wedding Planners
"No wedding in India is complete without gold," said Vithika Agarwal, also of Divya Vithika Wedding Planners.
"It doesn't matter how rich or poor you are -- you will still own gold according to your status. And because this is a day when you're showing off your prosperity, wealth, and material goods, the amount of gold you're wearing really matters."
Courtesy Divya Vithika Wedding Planners
Many Indian weddings are determined by auspicious dates. But with the number of wedding dates falling this year, the consequences could be felt in markets around the globe.
"During 2015, one estimates that the number of auspicious dates are 20% fewer than last year -- due to various astrological things," said PR.
"These kinds of things do affect prices, because the world expects India to have around 20 million weddings and to buy a minimum of 800 tons of gold. So everything that affects particular trends does have an impact on the gold price -- to that extent, the households that conduct marriages have a huge impact on the global price."
Courtesy Divya Vithika Wedding Planners
It's not uncommon to see between 3,000 and 6,000 guests in celebrations lasting at least three days.
"Indian families save up all their lives for a wedding," said Vithika.
"They start investing in gold from a very young age of their daughters -- it's so that she has enough gold to wear, to take with her, to always have as security."
Courtesy Divya Vithika Wedding Planners
The tradition dates back to property laws which previously favored men.
"Land, buildings, they always went to the son," he said. "So when people had to give something to the daughter, they would always share their wealth in the form of gold.
"Now everyone has equal rights, but the tradition still continues."
Courtesy Divya Vithika Wedding Planners
"There are half a million jewelers in India -- more than the number of bank branches," said PR.
"Indian gold is hand crafted and there is this concept of the 'family jeweler.' Every family goes to a particular jeweler -- generally they don't buy from others."
Roberto Schimdt/Getty images/File