Arun Sunder Hotchandani and Milan Hotchandani, souvenir corner-shop owners from Belize, recently married their transgender daughter, Simran Hotchandani (now Simran Hotchandani Sanon) to Deven Sanon, son of Indian immigrants to the US and Canada of equally humble means, in a wedding ceremony in Tenerife.
So how do you go from selling sunglasses and sunscreen to low-budget tourists in a poor South American country ridden with crime, like Belize, to marrying your daughter on an albeit poor but – for what it’s worth – ‘European’ island?
The following is the checklist for the new-age boujee on a budget Sindhi wedding (a cautionary note to the easily impressed who are already impressed: nothing is as it appears):
- Don’t invest in your Sindhi daughter’s education beyond one marriageable degree for show as required by modern times; instead, put all your money towards gifts for her in-laws, deck her in implicit dowry of labels and jewels to impress her in-laws, and throw whatever you can expense at her wedding to legally transfer her monetary burden from father to husband (trust that it’s a small price to pay in the long run for the future of your Sindhi daughter who has boujee taste, even though she works in, well, marketing)
- Join a religious organization with a cult following like Radha Soami or Art of Living and really get into the thick of the Sindhi community concentrated in clusters across the globe (the thicker the better to milk discounts from the network of Sindhi vendors available for your daughter’s boujee on a budget Sindhi wedding)
- Butter up and keep in the good books of your more wealthy and more successful relatives in your inevitably large Sindhi family (real good with 100% real desi ghee)
- Hire a wedding planner who will guarantee mega discounts in exchange for tagging vendors – trousseau, catering, photographers, venues, etc – on social media for the most sponsored, commercial, and ultimately sellable wedding of the year (if you can name a price, you can tag it on social media for a discount)
- Throw a bit of everything into the wedding whether it all makes sense together or not, nobody cares about elegance of taste and tact of strategy as long as the focus remains on the bulk discount for randomness (there is no limit to making it all up)
Check off each to-do on the checklist is exactly what Arun Sunder Hotchandani and Milan Hotchandani did to marry off their transgender daughter, Simran Hotchandani Sanon to Deven Sanon at Ritz-Carlton Abama in Tenerife, a Canary Island in Spain.
It is widely known that the Canary Islands in Spain – a comparatively affordable European holiday destination considering Spain’s national debt and the island’s high rate of poverty – is home to a significant and sizeable Sindhi population.
Although the Ritz-Carlton Abama is not renowned as the most expensive nor sophisticated venue for Indian Ritz weddings across the world, it still has Ritz in its name and that still means everything when you’re full-blown Sindhi. It’s, always, all in the label.
So much so that when you inquire about an Indian wedding at the Ritz-Carlton Abama in Tenerife, the hotel’s wedding management team are at the ready with their Hindu/ Jain menus as template responses – that’s how accustomed the Ritz-Carlton Abama has become to putting on the ritz (on a budget) for Sindhi weddings in the Canary Islands.
It also helps that with a large Radha Soami Sindhi community resident in the Canary Islands – a religious community that Arun Sunder Hotchandani, Milan Hotchandani, and Simran Hotchandani Sanon are very much actively part of – local wedding vendors all come cheap, if not completely free, as ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’ help each other out for every kid’s wedding within the Radha Soami Sindhi community.
The bride needs trousseau for multiple wedding events?
Lucky for Simran Hotchandani Sanon, although a Sindhi relative may not have landed much of the singing career she was originally aiming at through social media, she sure did manage to monetize her husband’s personality for her full-time career as a social media influenza. Following the checklist above, buttering up this relative, keeping in this relative’s good books, and inviting this relative guarantees this relative the content she needs for her full-time career on the gram, but it also guarantees Simran Hotchandani Sanon major discounts and collaborations for her trousseau from Kynah, Pernia’s Pop Up Shop, and other Indian designers in exchange for the social media tags from this relative. Win-win.
If you’re Sindhi and you know it, flash a designer label even if you can’t afford it.
The bride needs jewelry for her wedding?
The vast majority of Sindhis, like magpies, love their shine. Whether they have the money to glitter or not, whether the jewelry is of sophisticated taste or not, whether the jewelry makes sense with the outfit or not, diamonds and colored gemstones are the bride’s demand.
And why not when, again, lucky for Simran Hotchandani Sanon, more extended family relatives and connections within the Radha Soami Sindhi community in Hong Kong are able to provide a few tanzanites and diamonds for discounts on already cheap Asian prices, in exchange for brand promotion through tagging on social media.
After all, every Sindhi girl who works in marketing (read as, every Sindhi girl works in marketing) knows that all that branding now is, is a tagged photo on the gram. Natural or lab-grown or deceptive cubic zirconia – nobody’s gonna know, how will they know…as long as it’s tagged and posted.
The groom reaps the benefit of being the groom of a Sindhi bride. Whether he is Sindhi or not, like Deven Sanon, it’s an even better deal when everything is two for the discounted price of one.
The bride wants the wedding to look like her taste is a touch above that of a conservative Sindhi family from Belize?
Easy when taste is subjective to the opinions of the target audience. In this case, the majority of whom are new money Sindhis.
So the solution is to do it all.
Lucky for Simran Hotchandani Sanon, between her taste and her choice of wedding planner – whose main businesses simultaneously consist of both event-planning and cannabis – a mix of anything and everything clearly goes…
…and so it went…
The Hotchandanis had American college fraternity-style beer pong and American county fair face-painting at the welcome party…
They had scantily-clad, Brazilian carnival dancers join their otherwise rustic Indian guests dressed in traditional Indian garb at the sangeet…
They had a Thomas the Tank Engine toy train – on a rocky Spanish isle with little infrastructure, let alone civilization – to bring in the groom and groomsmen for the baraat…
They had a (perhaps) Burnett-inspired secret garden with the added Sindhi shine of fairy lights…and firecrackers…on a rocky ledge of – rendered irrelevant by the decor – beach for the wedding afterparty…
They had multiple photocopies made of the same painting by Van Gogh (now turning in his grave) on tired laminate as decor for the reception…
Whether any of it made sense or if, in even just a snapshot, it made sense to have shots called ‘babymaking potions’ (an arguably crass touch for a wedding conventionally intended to be a more classy affair) right before her parents engaged in ‘paon dhulai’ (an arguably regressive custom of the bride’s family washing the feet of the groom) or not…
Who are we to judge when we are not the ones paying for the circus?
It made sense to Simran Hotchandani Sanon for the wedding of her dreams as, ultimately, the daughter of souvenir corner-shop owners from Belize.
She wanted a bit of everything at the cost of anything, and she got just that in her mixed-bag wedding.
Is it a reunion of frat-rejects? Is it the local town county fair? Is it a street party in Awlins for Mardi Gras? Is it a jungle? Is it a knock-off art museum exhibit?
What are we at and what are we celebrating again?
Nobody really knows as long as it’s an open bar. When the majority of attending guests and hosts aren’t worldly enough to know any better, delulu is the solulu to throw anything against the wall and call it a wedding.
Wise budgeting decision indeed to focus on the discount value in having mismatched vendors offering mismatched products. Any Sindhi business trader knows that products that make sense together as a running theme, cost a lot more to deliver.
Therefore, the more random the composition of a wedding, the greater the discounts from wedding vendors, and the cheaper the wedding.
The Sindhi Factor
Most Sindhis across the world are some sort of business traders. The majority are not well-educated and therefore, not in white-collar corporate jobs; instead, the majority are bare-bones educated and settle for some sort of business trade.
Most Sindhis, if they do get a degree, always get a degree in business studies; and while the majority of prodigal Sindhi sons do the same business as their Sindhi pappa for more generations to come, the majority of prodigal Sindhi daughters do marketing before quickly getting married and quickly having babies.
Post-partition, Indian Sindhis across the globe are, as a majority, new money. Whatever they did have was left behind in Pakistan during the partition. Therefore, the pinch remains and it is still felt by displaced Sindhis across the globe.
Sindhis aspire to gain social status from the show of their new money, and the Hotchandanis are no different.
A transgender Sindhi girl who comes from a big, conservative Sindhi family resident in a poor country like Belize, Simran Hotchandani Sanon has only ever dreamt of her wedding growing up.
Not academic achievements, not a career, but only a wedding.
Simran Hotchandani Sanon is unique not only in that she’s one of a few transgender Sindhi women to be married in the same Sindhi fashion as her cisgender contemporaries, but she also married at the tender age of 26, when most modern women are still in graduate school and are yet to save for the wedding of their dreams that they self-respectfully intend to pay for themselves.
Though in a commercial Indian wedding era, it is, thankfully, now much easier to make Simran Hotchandani Sanon’s sole dream of a Sindhi boujee wedding come true at any age and on any budget.
As long as they stick to the checklist of a dream-catcher, like the Hotchandanis from Belize, any full-blown Sindhi from any walk of life can have a boujee on a budget Sindhi wedding.