An Indian businessman who made his fortune in the trade of cloth and wheat celebrated his daughter’s wedding in a non-traditional way – by building 90 homes for the poor.
A specific picture immediately comes to mind when we think of Indian weddings. We imagine elaborate outfits, a multitude of guests, and a lavish ceremony and party that lasts for days. Getting married is a big deal, especially for India’s super-rich. That’s because weddings aren’t merely special occasions; they’re also social statements – a symbol of strength and status. An Indian marriage isn’t just between a bride and groom; it’s also a union between two families.
But it’s not just India’s richest. In a country where up to 12 million weddings take place every year, the middle classes are keeping up with the elites and hosting lavish weddings to show their status. Indian matrimonies are big business; experts estimate that the country’s wedding industry is worth a whopping $40 billion to $50 billion.
In fact, 50% of the gold purchased in the country each year is for elements used at wedding ceremonies. Traditionally, it’s the bride’s family who pays for most of the wedding expenses. Indian parents start saving up the moment their daughter is born in preparation for the big day.
While hosting an extravagant wedding has been an intrinsic part of Indian culture, this cloth and wheat wholesaler from Aurangabad, Maharashtra, took a different path.
Instead of using the Rs 70-80 lakh he set aside for his daughter Shreya’s wedding, Ajay Munot used the huge sum of money to benefit people in need. The wealthy businessman had 90 houses built on two acres of land. Each 12×20 painted home had two windows, electricity, and access to filtered water. This big housing project cost Ajay 1.5 crore, or 150 lakhs ($220,920).
Both the bride and groom were fully supportive of Ajay’s generous move. After the wedding, the newlyweds themselves handed over the keys to the new homeowners.
“I am very happy with the decision and will consider it as my marriage gift,” Shreya told The New Indian Express.
The people selected for the project had to meet specific criteria. They had to be poor, living in the slums, and must have no addictions of any kind.
The idea to help poor people came after Ajay had a conversation with a friend: the politician Prakash Bamb of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The initial plan was to build 108 homes, but only 90 had been completed by the day of the wedding. The businessman believes that all rich people should perform a similar act of charity for their daughter’s weddings.
“This is the new chapter in history and I hope that the same concept will be followed by the other rich communities,” he said. “We have some responsibilities towards our society and we tried to comply with it.”
Ajay Munot, the tycoon who made his money from trading wheat, his story of generosity may have happened in 2016, but it still continues to inspire until today.
Other billionaires around the world have also performed their own acts of generosity. This includes Bill Gates, the richest man on the planet. In his lifetime, he has made around $35.8 billion worth of donations to different causes. Much of his charity work happens through The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world.
Azim Premji, an Indian tech tycoon, has contributed billions of dollars into causes and charitable organizations within his home country and around the world. Last March 2019, he announced that he transferred a $7.5 billion stake in his IT outsourcing company, Wipro, to his charitable institution. That move brought his lifetime donations to $21 billion.
Patrick Motsepe, a South African billionaire, has given over $500 million to projects in Africa that target health, farming, agrobusiness, infrastructure, and music. In 2018, he also pledged to donate $250 million to South African land reform and $100 million to education projects.
Watch the video below to learn more about this cloth and wheat tycoon’s story of generosity.
We don’t need to be a billionaire in order to perform acts of generosity. I believe that each one of us is capable of giving in our own ways – no matter how big or small!