June 2, 2023

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Another Way to Get Married: India’s “Metawares” Weddings | World | D.W.

No large wedding halls, no long queues in the dining rooms, no overcrowding, no long family discussions. With all the trappings but no fuss, Jeganandini and Dinesh got married on February 6, 2022 near Krishnagiri district, 250 km from Chennai, the capital of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

But the couple’s weddings are not like the others: they celebrated their wedding party on Metawares. The restrictions that were causing the epidemic and the love for digital technology prompted them to take this step. Facebook is roaming the metawares, calling it the “next evolution of social connectivity”.

Metawares integrates many elements of technology such as virtual reality, where users can feel alive in the digital world. In large companies this is considered a long-term solution, but can it penetrate into other areas of everyday life? Some in India think so, but others think it is a fad that will slowly disappear once the current epidemic is over.

Time and space passed

Jayanandini and Dinesh Siva say their wedding at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts was Asia’s first metawares wedding celebration. They made the father of the bride, who died last year, attend and create his 3D incarnation.

Among the wedding guests was the late father of the bride, who appeared in 3D incarnation (right).

Jayanandini said she was thankful that her late father was able to attend her wedding: “It was so emotional and I felt incredibly happy. I received his blessing.” However, the bride agrees that she failed to see everyone dressed for a party, as is traditionally the case at weddings. “If it weren’t for the infection, I think I would have refused to do this,” Jagannathini admits.

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“Marriage is a great moment in my life,” says groom Dinesh. “And I wanted it to be memorable. I wanted all my friends and colleagues to attend my big day. In a digital place like Metawares, up to 10,000 people can attend my event, no matter where they live in the world,” he adds.

According to Indian law, the bride and groom must be physically present during the ceremony. The couple “meta-reception” took place on the evening of February 6, after an intimate wedding celebration in the morning.

A new nature?

The digital celebration was designed and organized by a Chennai-based startup. Vignesh Selvaraj, who runs the company, believes that “even after the epidemic, many young people want to have their weddings on the metawares.”

But according to social commentator Santosh Desai, metawares marriages in India in general are unlikely to catch on. “It’s like weddings of people who want to get married on an airplane or underwater. It may be something that attracts attention. Some may think: ‘Let’s do something extraordinary’. But Indians prefer physical presence,” he explains. DW to Desai.

A guest is waiting to enter the wedding reception of the happy couple set in Hogwarts.

A guest is waiting to enter the wedding reception of the happy couple set in Hogwarts.

Padma Rani, an associate professor at the Manipal Institute of Communication, takes a similar view, noting that metawares events are not possible to replace traditional weddings and that the digital ceremony requires technologically minded people with the necessary resources.

“Many people do not know how to use a cell phone”

“Only those interested in technology prefer metawares weddings, which make up a very small segment of Indian society,” says Rani. “Everyone has a mobile. But having a mobile can not be considered a technology enthusiast. Many people in India do not know how to use apps and other things on their mobile phone,” he adds.

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However, after arranging the latest Metawares wedding, Vignesh Selvaraj says his business is getting a lot of inquiries from couples who want to do the same.

According to the 2019 census, Indian weddings held in 14 countries and before the epidemic had the highest number of guests in the world, with an average of 524 participants. Following India are Mexico and Brazil with 185 and 159 guests respectively. About 10 million marriages take place in India every year. In the post-epidemic world, it remains to be seen how many of these will be provided by 3D incarnations.

(ct / ms)