Indian Decade

India’s Gun Lovers

Especially in rural areas, firing guns is a sign of status at weddings. It’s a dangerous one though.

Gunfire has become an increasingly popular celebratory custom at lavish Indian weddings in recent years, especially in the rural heartland. In fact the gun can be a serious determiner of a family’s social status.

As a result, the groom’s relatives often fire celebratory gunshots in the air at nuptial ceremonies to impress the assembled guests—the more firing, the grander the wedding! In fact, according to an old rural Indian saying, gunshots mark every important event in a villager’s life from the moment they are born. When a person dies and is cremated, gunshots resonate across the cremation ground to awaken the spirit of death.                    

However, occasionally, these gunshots go astray, resulting in casualties and even some deaths. Last year, in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, where this custom has been widely followed for over two centuries, a bridegroom’s brother was accidentally killed when a bullet shot through his head during celebratory firing. In another gruesome case, a 21-year-old groom was shot and killed by his uncle at his own wedding after a ‘revelry shot’ went horribly wrong.

Although there’s a ban on firing in public places in many Indian states, the rule often isn’t followed because the tradition of guns is just so deeply entrenched in the country.

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But this gun culture might be coming to an end, at least in Madhya Pradesh. The state police service has issued strict directives that any use of firearms during public ceremonies will be dealt with ‘sternly.’ Offenders might be sent packing from the district, or action could even be taken under the National Security Act (NSA).

It will be interesting to see if this really marks the beginning of a farewell to arms.