It is my firm belief that advertisements in media are the main culprits in bringing down the cultural and moral values in life notwithstanding their glamorous presentations.
Of late, I have noticed that one of the ads for kitchen electrical appliances (from UK I guess) shown on TV has lovely vases shattering to pieces and an array of their sleek kitchen appliances such as mixer and toaster shown with a copy saying “Do not accept useless gifts” or words to that effect.
“Man doesn’t live by bread alone” . We human beings are a superior species as compared to animals and birds and we do not spend our time only in eating, sleeping and procreation. We like to see beautiful things, hear beautiful things, create beautiful things and in general surround ourselves with beauty. Nature has given us the capacity to appreciate nature and the creativity to reproduce it.
So, if a bridal couple is gifted a lovely painted vase, it enriches the aesthetic component of their life. Gifting a kitchen gadget to the bride which in any case would have been provided by her parents or would have been bought by themselves later just emphasizes her role as a work horse and her never ending chores in the kitchen.
I am reminded of a joke by a famous wit in Kannada. Those were the days of acute shortage and stringent rationing of kerosene. When someone asked him for a suggestion for a ‘useful’ gift for a couple getting married, he told him to give them a bottle of kerosene. Oh! This obsession of giving something ‘useful’!!!
In my own newly married life, while my mother had seen to it that my kitchen was fully equipped to start a new life, the only things with which I could decorate my drawing room were the ‘useless’ things gifted to me by beauty conscious people_ an inlay- work tray, a Tanjore silver wall plate, a crystal vase which could hold lilies and dahlias, photo frames, albums etc which lasted till we bought our own stuff. Some have even survived our innumerable postings and the buffetings all over the country.
So, I feel aesthetics and utility have their own place in life. It is wrong to look a gift horse in the mouth and to tell a newly married couple not to accept ‘useless’ gifts. It is highly insensitive to advise them to throw them out in preference to shiny electrical household appliances.