Marriage gifts for coworkers in India
December 3, 2009 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Help me find excellent wedding gifts for my coworkers in India!

Both of the guys that I work with in India are getting married next week, and I just found out about it. I live in the US, so obviously I can't attend, but I'd like to get them each something nice for their wedding and as a thank-you for a year of hard work on this project. I'd like to keep it around $100-150 USD per person if possible, but they don't have wedding registries and I'm culturally clueless (even about my own culture).

I've been working with both of them for about 9 months now, but we've only met face-to-face once and I don't really know that much about them other than they're nice enough to chat with in the company canteen, so I don't know of anything really personal that I could get them. I'd be happy to give them cash, but I'm not sure how that would be taken, and if $100 would be seen as too stingy or too generous as a personal gift. We're all employees of HugeComputerCompany that has an employee discount store, so there isn't much in the way of consumer electronics they can't get for themselves cheaply. If it helps, one of the guys is local to Bangalore, the other is from up north (though I can't remember exactly where); one is an arranged marriage and the other is a love marriage. Also, I'm not their manager, but I am the technical lead on the project they're working on.
posted by hackwolf to Human Relations (8 answers total)
Best answer: Cash is perfectly acceptable and in fact, $100 (approx. Rs. 5000) would make for a very generous wedding gift.
posted by sk381 at 8:41 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ok, I’ll have a crack at this. I’m Indian so I have good general understanding of the culture, but have lived in North America all my life. So take what I say with some caution. This is all based on my personal experience; hopefully others who actually live in India will also respond with some advice.

Indian weddings involve two types of gifts: jewellery and cash. It’s perfectly acceptable for the gift to be an item of jewellery for the bride – and that’s it (no separate gift for the groom). Household gifts are not done, because most traditional couples stay with the groom’s family, in a home that’s already well established. Of course, this depends on the couple – things have changed a lot in recent years and many couples may opt to live separately. But generally, the gift is either cash or jewellery. And jewellery is usually given by family members, so cash is probably your best bet.

As to amount...well, I think the equivalent of $100 would be too generous for someone who lives there. I think $50 would be plenty, probably even generous . It depends on how wealthy your colleagues’ families and friends are, but for the average upper-middle class family, a gift of Rs. 1000-2000 would probably be the norm. Indians are cheap, dude. But since you earn in US dollars, and depending on your colleagues, there’s a CHANCE you’ll come off cheap if you “convert before you gift”. Let me put it this way: you definitely won’t come off as too stingy if you give $100. But since you live in the US, you won’t come off as too generous, either. You could probably also easily get away with giving less ($50-$75).

On preview, what sk381 said, much more succintly.
posted by yawper at 8:47 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm Indian and also agree with yawper.
posted by unexpected at 9:07 AM on December 3, 2009

Best answer: $101? Do all Indians do this, or just the Indians I grew up with? Adding $1 to whatever amount you would normally give is considered auspicious, as I understand it. I was unable to find online confirmation of this, but that's probably because I was googling the useless phrase indians 1$ gifts. I haven't had enough coffee today; I'm sure there's a better way to confirm this.
posted by sa3z at 10:10 AM on December 3, 2009

$101? Do all Indians do this, or just the Indians I grew up with?

My (Indian) parents do this for wedding presents and birthday gifts. They always give odd numbers like $51 or $121. Those numbers are supposed to be luckier or more auspicious. I don't think it's that common, as my other Indian friends have never heard of such a thing, but it's nice to know someone else out there has!

If you're not close to them, money is your best bet.
posted by bluefly at 10:18 AM on December 3, 2009

Best answer: I'm Indian, live in India, and have been to far more Indian weddings than I'd like.

Cash is perfect, and sa3z is correct- giving odd numbers like 101 or 51 is the norm, something about them being numerologically lucky. That, and you're not supposed to have a zero at the end for fear of bad luck, or something like that.

So if I were you, I'd just put $101 in a nice envelop (one of those fancy red ones with gold thread, if you can manage it, they're supposedly auspicious) and give it to the couple- they'll appreciate it more than some random thing they have to cart home at the end of a (very long, very tiring) day.
posted by Tamanna at 10:24 AM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Tamanna's answer is perfect.
posted by hackwolf at 10:48 AM on December 3, 2009

Yes, the extra dollar! Forgot about that. Happens in my family too :)
posted by yawper at 12:00 PM on December 3, 2009

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