South Asian, Tradition, Wedding

The Joota Chupai


So, is it just me, or do you guys also think that the ‘joota chupai’ rasm has just gotten a bit crazy in recent years? For those not familiar (none of my bridesmaids were!) I explained the joota chupai like this: it’s a playful tradition where the bride’s sisters and girlfriends  ‘steal’ the groom’s shoe, and get him to pay them for its return.

SM (husband) explained it differently: “extortion.” Lol.

And, I actually think he has a point!

Joota chupai is supposed to be this playful back-and-forth between the bride’s girls and the groom’s posse. Its spirit is light-hearted teasing, tongue-in-cheek, and full of jokes. Most of all, it’s supposed to be what you’re all thinking right now, lol, cue Madhuri & Salman in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun:

But I feel like today the joota chupai is losing its playful spirit and turning into a serious business transaction. Here in Toronto, apparently the ‘going rate’ for joota chupai (how much the groom forks over) is $500. Which I think is kinda crazy? $500 is a lot of money for what’s supposed to be a cute little tradition! Again, this is one of those ‘everything is relative’ when it comes to $$$ things, but $500 seems OTT to me!

Another thing that also happens these days is ‘pre-negotiating’ the joota chupai amount, where the groom talks to his wife/wife’s friends/sister-in-law ahead of time in order to ‘contain’ the negotiations during the actual wedding day, and so that he comes prepared with the agreed-upon-amount. I’ve even heard of stories where requests have been made in advance for thousands of dollars from the groom — just for the joota chupai. (Yes: that’s just insane).

To me, the obsession over the amount of money is actually stripping the tradition of its spirit. Because, ultimately, if your groom hands your friends $50 or $500, it shouldn’t matter, because it shouldn’t actually be about the monetary amount in the first place. Also, because: love lol.

As a bride, I know the last thing I would want to do is be part of a ‘pre-negotiation’ of how much joota chupai money your husband is going to bring! You have a million of other things that are going through your mind – this should be the least of them! I recall during the joota chupai at my wedding, I actually had no idea what was going on – I felt like I was just sitting there in a sea of loud voices, my sister’s being one of the loudest (lol for better or worse). One thing that I did deliberately do was have the joota chupai on the mehndi instead of the shaadi. I just felt like all of the noise that comes with the joota chupai was much more suited to the atmosphere of a mehndi, rather than a shaadi, which is naturally more of an elegant affair!

I think it’s important for all of us, brides, grooms, close friends of brides and grooms, to remember to keep this tradition light, playful, and happy. God knows we don’t need to add any more drama to our weddings lol! Do you guys have any joota chupai horror stories? Or tips of how smoothly it went? Also, what’s the going rate for joota chupai where you’re from? In Rupees, Pounds and US Dollars? Post away!

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