Brides flock to Mumbai

2009-02-26 00:00

“Mumbai is known as the hub of shopping,” says Aruna Gayaparsad of Elite Travel, and Indians from all over the world fly in to do their wedding shopping thanks to the sheer variety of merchandise and the low prices there.

Depending on the cultural and religious tradition of the family, and the various ceremonies involved, several outfits are required for both the bride and groom. All weddings are expensive, and traditional Indian weddings even more so. Bridal costumes are brocaded and feature detailed embroidery encrusted with crystals and rubies.

So when price is an issue, the difference in price between shopping locally or in India can be dramatic. One source cited a wedding sari bought locally at R12 000 would cost R2 000 in Mumbai.

“Twelve thousand versus two thousand might sound ridiculous,” says Gayaparsad. “But that is likely. You can get exclusive items in Mumbai and save a lot of money.”

“For a wedding so many different outfits are required and each garment costs R3 000 to R4 000 per piece,” says Asia Mullah, senior travel consultant at Sure Royal Travel. “In Mumbai it’s much cheaper. The rand is strong against the rupee — four-and-a-half-rupees to one rand.”

An average return airfare to Mumbai from Durban via Johannesburg is R6 500. “So airfare plus R1 000 per night accommodation — it still works out cheaper than buying here,” says Mullah.

According to Mullah, it’s usually the mother, daughter and sisters that travel. “It’s usually the bride as she likes to choose her own outfit.”

“Here in the malls we have a variety but tastes are all different, as well as shapes and sizes. You can choose an outfit there and have it tailored. Also, if you see something you like but it is the wrong colour, they will get the colour you want and sew it up. That takes a day or two. Even if you take your own pattern, they will tailor-make a garment for you.”

“And it’s not just bridal outfits,” says Dinesh Naidoo, marketing manager, of Serendipity Tours in Durban. “You can do all the shopping for the wedding. Cards and invitations are a fifth of the price, as well as costume jewellery and gifts.”

As well as providing a large selection of tours to the Indian sub-continent, Serendipity also caters for those going wedding shopping. “It’s typically a mother and daughter — two or three people,” says Naidoo. “We can recommend tailors and we offer a service so that people know what to do when they get there.”

“Shops here stock for the local market but women who follow trends want something unique and not what someone else wants as well.”

Ashrina Bharath and her husband Veren went to Mumbai to shop for the wedding of their son and their prospective daughter-in-law. “We knew which boutiques to go to from previous visits and by researching on the Internet. I know a tailor. I designed my son’s suit and the bride’s outfit by consulting them and looking at design books. They trusted us.”

“There is a huge variety to choose from, it’s custom-made and you can have it done without paying a fortune. It’s a lot cheaper. We even had the ring made there as well. My son bought the diamond here and we had it set over there.”

Research is key, says Bharath, because Mumbai is huge and you need to know where to go when time can be a premium. “It’s so big; it’s not like walking down Church Street and all the shops are there. They are spread out all over the city and you have to take cabs.”

“You find different areas concentrate on specific things. One area will specialise in wedding stationery. Here in South Africa there is a limited range, you find other weddings have similar stationery.”

“People are friendly and helpful, and it’s safe. And there are the finest hotels in the world.” And the wedding? “Very exclusive; it was different.”

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Trading partners

India is South Africa’s sixth largest trading partner in Asia, with two-way trade worth more than U.S.$2 billion (R20 billion) a year. South Africa has various co-operation agreements with India involving several sectors, including technology, telecommunications and small business. It has established an India-South African Commercial Alliance and set up a Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) with India. Among other things, the JMC allows for ministerial consultations on political and economic matters.

South Africa has also adopted the New Delhi Agenda for Co-operation, a south-south co-operation agreement with India and Brazil. The aim of the collaboration was to increase trade flows between the three countries. A Trilateral Business Council has been established as the framework for businesses from the three countries to work together. It’s expected that free trade deals currently being negotiated will evolve into an inter-continental free trade area.


A Closer look at Mumbai

Mumbai, formerly Bombay, is the capital of the state of Maharashtra and the financial capital of India. With a population of about 13,66 million, it is the second most populous city in the world. Along with the neighbouring suburbs of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it forms, at 18 950 000, the world’s fifth most populous metropolitan area. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour, which handles over half of India’s maritime cargo.

Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment centre of India, generating five percent of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounting for 25% of industrial output, 40% of maritime trade and 70% of capital transactions to India’s economy. Mumbai is one of the world’s top 10 centres of commerce by global financial flow, and is home to important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India, and the corporate headquarters of many Indian and multinational corporations. The city also houses India’s Hindi film and television industry, Bollywood. Mumbai’s business opportunities and its potential to offer a better standard of living, attract migrants from all over India. This makes the city a potpourri of many communities and cultures.—

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