Travel companies cash in on big fat Indian weddings

PUNE: Most tourists to India are fascinated by the local culture, especially some of the rituals and ceremonies they get a glimpse of. These are typically restricted to what they see in temples, with the big, fat Indian wedding remaining out of bounds, and a constant source of fascination.
Attending an Indian wedding while travelling through the country made two entrepreneurs from Budapest realize the potential something like this presented, leading to the launch of joinmywedding. com last year.
JoinMyWedding (JMW) allows tourists to do just that – attend an Indian wedding as a guest. In return, couples can offset some of their wedding expenses, with ticket prices ranging from $50-$100 per person.
Orsi Parkanyi, co-founder, joinmywedding. com said money spent on the ticket price would otherwise have gone towards buying the couple a gift.
“Since launch we’ve had about 50 people attend weddings from countries ranging from North America to Australia and Mexico. Last month at the Skift Forum in London, the largest event for the travel industry, we discussed how travelers are moving towards authentic experiences,” she said.
It is this shift globally, and in India, that has led to a number of new travel companies that are geared towards providing experiences that go beyond the ordinary. A number of startups tend to focus on one specific aspect, be it holidays centered around art, music or adventure. Others are more broad based within their chosen area of specialization.
Black Swan Journeys (BSJ) started off in 2010, with a deep focus on unique, customized experiences. “Depending on whether you are interested in music or cuisine, a trip to Kochi would include a homestay at the house of a band member from alternative rock band Avial, or at the home of someone who has authored a few books on Syrian Christian cuisine,” said Shishir Nikam, MD, Black Swan Journeys.
The emphasis is also on exploring a place with a subject matter expert, so a trip to Rani ki Vav in Ahmedabad would be arranged with one of the members of the excavation team as a guide. BSJ is now working at promoting India’s lesser known arts and crafts in collaboration with an NGO, Heart for Art, through craft focused trips to places like Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry.
Another company that’s been offering unique travel experiences is No Thepla Holidays (NTH). “We are targeting music festivals, quirky events, flashpacking and scuba diving trips,” said Arjun Malhotra, co-founder, No Thepla Holidays.

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