Jaipur: Thousands of weddings are planned across the country today, considered one of the most auspicious days to get married this year, but the cash crunch after the Centre's demonitisation move is playing spoiler.
With the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes pulled out of circulation abruptly this week and replacement notes being rationed, homes where weddings are being held are faced with sudden cancellations.
Flower sellers, wedding bands, horses for grooms on rent and buses to ferry guests are all paid in cash and many of these merchants are refusing to accept cheques, which are considered too cumbersome and could bounce.
In Rajasthan's capital Jaipur, over 900 wedding ceremonies are planned this month, among them that of Anant Gupta, whose parents, both doctors, are in a tizzy.
"Its a special occasion when your son gets married and now we suddenly have to be careful how we spend the money that we have. Its embarrassing not being able to pay people," said Anant's father Dr Alok Gupta.
Till the beginning of this week, 28-year-old Kuldeep Mehra had everything ticked on his checklist for his wedding, also in Jaipur today. Now Mr Mehra, a driver by profession, doesn't know where to begin. He has to queue up at a bank to exchange notes, for the little that he will get, and is not sure if he will be back home in time for the wedding.
Wedding guests are already trooping in and a worried Kuldeep Mehra said, "We withdrew 4 to 5 lakh rupees from the bank for my wedding as we had to give advance to everybody. Merchants are not accepting the other half in cheque. The cash limit for withdrawals is Rs 10,000 and there are long queues."
His sister Asha said she has had to shelve last minute shopping plans as there is a big crises. "We couldn't buy a garland because we didn't have new notes to pay for it."
The sudden note shortage has hit another Indian tradition - the wedding envelope. Many guests carry money in decorative envelopes as gifts and are now not quite sure what is appropriate any more. Many do not have new notes yet and the old notes are no more legal.
While announcing that 500 and 1000 rupee notes were being abolished within four hours of his speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in a televised address to the nation appealed to people to bear with some inconvenience to help the government battle black money, corruption and fake currency.
Politicians like UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav have requested the Centre to exempt expenditure for weddings.