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The Americans Who Make Indian Weddings Feel Indian

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UNITED STATES, October 3, 2011 (by Sona Gajiwala): It’s rare that you feel good about paying a wedding vendor. There are, however, a few vendors to whom I feel OK paying a premium, for they have identified specific needs for a demanding demographic, and have stepped outside their comfort zones and crossed cultural lines to fulfill them.

My favorite example: Billy, from Maharaja Farm, a stable in the suburbs of Chicago. Billy is an average, midwestern dude who recognizes the importance of the baraat for an Indian wedding. The baraat is the groom’s procession at an Indian wedding. In India, the groom often arrives at the wedding venue on a horse (or an elephant) accompanied by a small Indian marching band, with his friends and family dancing alongside him.

Billy, after having been asked to loan out his horse for some of these events, discovered a need for his horse that fell way outside that of mainstream America — a profitable need that wasn’t being met by anyone else. He rebranded himself as Maharaja Farm, and now offers full-service baraat coordination that can’t be found anywhere else in Chicago. He outfits his horse and his handler in traditional Indian attire, and offers his customers the option to upgrade to a package with a red carpet lined with display fireworks.

Another component of an Indian wedding where I discovered this brand of entrepreneurship is with American decor companies and their creation of mandaps (Hindu wedding canopies). I’ve looked through these companies’ sample books at photos of stunning, traditional Indian wedding canopies — accompanied by price tags upwards of $40,000.

As an Indian-American, you’re often saturated with information about Indian-owned businesses that were created to satisfy the masses, but you rarely hear about non-Indian run businesses that solely exist to satisfy our small (but growing!) population. This is the kind of innovation you like to see in a tough economic climate. Even if you don’t understand their culture yet, try to figure out what people want and give it to them.

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