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Is obsession with gold among Indians justified?

Long, long ago somewhere far away in rural India a little boy was reprimanded for having stolen some money from his mother's purse.  The boy ran away from home and ended up in front of a palace's gates.  He asked the guards whether he could find some work there.  The guards said yes, however he wouldn't be paid but offered food as compensation.

The boy who was famished by now thought it to be a good deal.  He cleaned pots, pans and did odd jobs.  The palace officials were pretty impressed with his sincerity and hard work.  They gave him food and asked him what else would he like in return for his work.  He requested a small metal pot that he had seen in the kitchen.   Though he was ridiculed at this strange request, the clever boy insisted on keeping it as the pot was made of pure solid gold, which he promptly sold for a hefty sum!

Since time immemorial numerous stories of gold trade have filled Indian history books.  This easy-way-to-be rich opportunity is still prevalent in India.  Mostly amongst Indian retail investors in the present age.

“All that glitters is not gold” is an old adage.  Although this saying creates a lot of value in philosophical writings, one cannot justify it with respect to Indian fads.

In India, gold is a religion.  An Indian wedding isn't complete until and unless the bride, her close relatives and relatives of relatives adorn decent quantities of gold.  Dons sport rings on their fingers, enough to make their hands turn sore.  Temples get offerings from devotees in the form of gold biscuits and ornaments.  This can be easily termed as an obsession.  But what gave birth to such a trend?

A Golden family literally, figuratively and otherwise :)

India is a land of unique yet mysterious traditions.  The various ornaments adorned on the body from head to toe have their own significance.  When it comes to an Indian woman, it doesn't really matter which part of her body shines with the metal as long as it doesn't wear off or fades away.  Gold is the only metal that is considered to last the whole lifetime without losing its value.  These ornaments are worn for various reasons as well.

Bangles are worn from the time a child is born.  It is believed that wearing of bangles increase blood circulation and preserve positive energy in the body. The nose ring helps in regular and comfortable breathing. Wearing rings by both men and women is considered good for health as the ring finger has a nerve which is connected to the heart through the brain. The mangal sutra worn by a married woman above the heart helps regularise the blood circulation in the body!

These little known ancient beliefs or probably myths only help increase the appetite for the yellow metal. Festivals like Dhanteras or Akshaya Trithiya are other reasons for Indians to buy yet another necklace or anklet.

In India gold symbolises prosperity.  A family who can afford to purchase gold, hold it, is considered wealthy enough to lead a comfortable lifestyle.  It is the symbol of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and is considered highly auspicious.  But apart from its importance in terms of investments and ornamental value, the gold obsession in India is a class apart when compared to the sophistication of platinum or diamond in the West.

Indians generally bank on gold for various purposes.  In India we do not have anything like the social security provided in the U.S. or in more developed countries.   Thus Indians depend on gold for a rainy day.

Many Governments all over the world back their economy with a sizeable physical holding of solid Gold.  It is speculated that unaccounted, private gold hoarding among Indians is the highest in the world!

With all the jokes made about Indian brides fracturing their neck under the weight of gold worn on their wedding day, one can't deny the fact that it is actually a 'friend in need '.  It is probably the single most important thing that unites Indians after Cricket and Bollywood!

Be its importance as liquid cash or as a status symbol in India, it would be appropriate to say that “All that glitters is surely gold!”


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