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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 15:41 GMT
Astrologers trigger wedding fever

By Geeta Pandey
BBC, Delhi

If you are in the Indian capital, Delhi, the odds are that you will be attending one or possibly several weddings before Sunday.

Astrologers have pronounced the next three days to be extremely auspicious for holding weddings.

Getting ready - but there's a ban on big wedding processions
Getting ready - but there's a ban on big wedding processions
So thousands of couples have signed up to get married during this period.

In Delhi alone close to 14,000 weddings will be held on Thursday and an equal number on Friday and Saturday.

Earlier in the year, astrologers had decreed the planetary positions to be disastrous for weddings which meant they were practically no marriages held between July and October.

After a four-month drought, it is raining good times for the Indian wedding industry.

Why the mad rush?

Astrologers have said that the current planetary positions will bring marital bliss to all those who tie the knot in this period.

Delhi-based astrologer Pramod Dutta told the BBC the importance of marrying on an auspicious date cannot be under-estimated.

Wedding band
The Swagat wedding band is turning down business

"You have to plant a seed in the right season for the tree to grow and remain healthy," he said.

"In the same way, a marriage has to be solemnised at the right time if it is to last."

Mr Dutta says that the present alignment of the planets is so auspicious that he has even arranged for his own daughter, Ruchi, to be married on Friday.

Book early, avoid disappointment

Weddings in India are a multi-billion dollar business and the current rush has meant huge demand for banquet halls, music bands and even priests.

Several parents told the BBC that they had made bookings as early as March to avoid disappointment.

Wedding couple
This brave couple wedded in August - despite the astrologers' warnings

But families are not the only ones struggling to keep up with the planetary omens.

Amarjit Ahuja owns Delhi's Swagat Band, which performs at wedding processions.

Despite having more than 50 brass band-members on his books, Mr Ahuja has had to employ more musicians, as well as turn some clients away.

"Those who booked early are fine - but those who left it for the last moment had to go away disappointed," he says.

Traffic policemen are also on high alert during the wedding season.

As well as brass bands, wedding processions typically include hundreds of singing, dancing friends and relatives, as well as the occasional ceremonial horse or elephant.

A traffic policeman told the BBC a ban on large wedding processions has been imposed, and will last for two months, until the Hindu wedding season ends.

Astrologers play an important role in India and most people will consult them on wedding dates, before starting a new business or even while selecting a course of study for their children.

It is only the very brave who will go against astrologers while choosing their wedding dates - after all it is supposed to be a once in a lifetime affair.

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