Cash is the Currency of Love in Bangladesh
Bangladeshi betrotheds have a message for wedding attendees wondering what to gift them: they don’t need any more juicers, rice cookers or glasses. Cash is king.
According to an article in The Business Standard, cash now tops the list of preferred wedding presents, and with good reason. It’s ‘convenient above anything else’ and it allows the bride and groom to purchase what they need or want. Many couples have taken to social media despairing at the sheer number of duplicate kitchen items they have been gifted, leading to savvier families requesting cash only.
En route to any event, one has to spend hours stuck in traffic jams. On top of that, going to the market to buy a gift for that event takes up extra time. If you give cash, you save a significant amount of time.
Requests for cash are often implied rather than directly stated, with one Nilkhet-based invitation card business owner saying the words ‘Gifts Not Necessary’ are often included.
I once asked a couple of customers why they did not want gifts. [They] replied that most of the time, the items received as gifts are not useful. Instead of asking for cash directly, if you write it like this, many people will understand that it is better to give cash.
Speaking to couples who received the majority or all of their wedding gifts in the form of cash, the benefits are obvious. One opted to buy furniture and travel, while another used the cash for various essential items in their new home, and a third placed the money into a savings account to set them up for the future.
There is also societal pressure to host a lavish ceremony, whether or not the families are able to fund it comfortably, with some resorting to loans from banks or acquaintances. In such circumstances, cash can help offset some of the expense and give newlyweds an easier start to married life.
In most middle-class weddings, a lot of shopping from local stores is done on credit. When cash is given as a gift at weddings, it often goes towards settling these outstanding payments. So, giving cash as a wedding gift can be very helpful for the organisers.
According to The Business Standard, the recent popularity of cash is partly attributable to inflation driving up costs, making it both more affordable for guests and more useful for the couple.
A few decades ago, you could get a nice gift for two to five thousand taka [$20–45]. The price of gold was also much lower. But now, if you want to buy a decent piece of gold jewellery, you may have to spend 20–30 thousand taka. Many people simply cannot afford to spend that much on wedding gifts.
This trend in Bangladesh follows the popularity of cash gifts in cultures worldwide, with the article noting it is common in China, India, Japan, Pakistan and South Korea, and is also gaining momentum in the United States. Each country has its own customs, such as adding one extra rupee to an amount as a symbol of good luck in India, presenting the money in a red envelope in China, or avoiding amounts divisible by two in Japan as this could be considered symbolic of a split in the relationship.