Weddings: A new bridge between India and Turkey

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Turkey and India share some common wedding traditions. No wonder some families in India started to choose Turkey for their wedding ceremonies

Wedding ceremonies are important anywhere in the world, but if we talk about weddings in India; that is a case apart. The very basic fact the global gold market keeps an eye on India’s wedding season is revealing enough for itself. Reading the impact of India’s wedding season on global markets in the economy pages is one thing, but personally witnessing it; you understand why it has such an impact.

No matter how indifferent you may normally be to jewelry, you cannot avoid being mesmerized by the splendor of golden jewelry decorating the heads, nose, ears, necks and arms of all of the women participating in the wedding. Not just the accessories, but the dresses as well; men included provide a visual feast in an Indian wedding.

Attending a wedding in Udaipur in Western India of a family from Mumbai, took me to my childhood.  My father comes from a large family in Eastern Anatolia.  So I spent part of my summers as a child attending the weddings of my elder cousins. Just like the ones in India, they used to last for a couple of days. Just like in India, having henna in your hands ahead of the final ceremony is, for instance, among the ritual.

So I was not surprised at all to hear that Turkey, despite its distance to the country, had recently become one of the most popular destinations for Indians organizing their weddings. Historic Istanbul with the Bosporus; Cappadocia with its magical setting and Antalya with its holiday resorts are the three most preferred destinations for weddings. Besides being an exotic choice, the cultural affinity between the two countries, especially regarding the wedding tradition, makes Turkey one of the best options to accommodate to the needs of a traditional Indian wedding.

But Turkey is not only on the radar of Indian families with wedding plans; I have come across so many Indians that have been to Turkey, that I have realized the country has already become a very popular travel destination for India.

“More than 95,000 Indian tourists visited our country in 2013,” Burak Akçapar, Turkey’s ambassador to New Delhi, said to me. This means a sevenfold increase in the last 10 years.

“The number of tourists visiting our country increases by 20 percent each year. With the implementation of the e-visa system settling down this year we expect an explosion,” said Akçapar adding, “The numbers in our hands as of mid-June indicate that there will be a 57 percent increase in the number of visas issued for travelling to Turkey in 2014.”

The wedding organizations of some Indian families in Turkey, as well as the shooting of Indian movies, have a multiplier effect in the promotion of the country, said Akçapar.

The challenge remains in the transport, since flights between India and Turkey are already fully saturated. There are, in fact, efforts to increase twofold Turkish Airlines (THY) weekly 7 flights to New Delhi and Mumbai and start flights to new destinations in India, according to the Turkish envoy. As 14 million Indian tourists travel abroad each year, the increase in the number of THY flights will enable Turkey to welcome more tourists from India. THY as a global brand not only contributes to the promotion of Turkey as a touristic destination it also contributes to India’s economy by carrying 250,000 travelers to India each year.

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