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India's betrothed are throwing tradition to the wind to wed

It is traditional for Indian weddings to occur on auspicious dates. These are usually determined by astrologers who read the bride and groom's horoscopes.

NEW DELHI // As the weather begins to cool after Diwali, the festival of lights, Ajay Deep's calendar fills with wedding dates.

But today is the wedding planner's very busiest, with three events to organise.

Across the country, thousands of Indian brides and grooms have chosen today, 11/11/11, to get married.

"When we made our first booking, it did not occur to me that this day had any special significance," said Mr Deep, the director of the events management company Flare Events in Chandigarh, the capital of the state of Punjab.

It is traditional for Indian weddings to occur on auspicious dates. These are usually determined by astrologers who read the bride and groom's horoscopes.

But sometimes brides and grooms determine for themselves what is auspicious, Mr Deep said.

"People want to get together on this date because it is considered auspicious, irrespective of what their horoscope says," he said.

By Thursday evening, he was frowning over a bouquet of purple lilies and orchids that were to be tied into a bouquet with purple string, for a colour-themed wedding. He was also mulling over another party where the theme was "happiness".

Astrologers who keep a careful eye on the lunar calendar say there is no guarantee of happiness from today's planetary alignments. Neither do the numbers add up to anything special, say numerologists.

The two 'sciences' traditionally are consulted to ensure the wedding date is lucky, helping to guarantee a happy married life for the new husband and wife.

Disregarding the omens, they say, is risky business.

"Getting married on such a date guarantees nothing," said Acharya Kewal Anand Joshi, an astrologer. "It is just about bragging rights."

MK Pandey, a numerologist in New Delhi, said he had been discouraging couples from picking a date simply on how it looks.

"Just because people are believing it is lucky does not mean the numbers add up," Mr Pandey said. "There is nothing special about this."

But Meetu Booker-Soni, a fashion choreographer and stylist, said the trend truly represented the modern India.

"The new generation, instead of going to the lunar calendar for the marriage dates, are adapting to more western numbers, whether it is 9.10.11 or 12.12.12," Ms Booker-Soni said. "These more interesting numbers are special and auspicious in the modern world.

"It is a good mix of the old and the new because we still want dates to be special and meaningful."

Monica Kedia and Rajesh Gupta, from Pitampura, a neighbourhood in north Delhi, have found a way to have it both ways.

They will be officially married in a Hindu ceremony on November 14, a day determined by their astrologer, but they will start four days of celebration from today.

"The formal celebrations are in keeping with the parents' wish," said Mr Gupta, 28, a businessman. "But we will make sure our certificate will contain a date that is unforgettable.

"These are unique digits and I will never have a hard time recalling our anniversary."

sbhattacharya@thenational.ae