Indian couple plan country’s ‘first metaverse wedding’

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Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

As Covid-19 forces families across India to scale back or cancel their traditionally large-scale weddings, one couple has found a place unaffected by the restrictions: the Metaverse.

Dinesh Sivakumar Padmavathi and Janaganandhini Ramaswamy from Tamil Nadu, where wedding gatherings are currently limited to 100 people, have invited 2,000 people to their virtual reception next month. And as self-proclaimed “Potterheads” or Harry Potter fans, the couple opted for a Hogwarts-themed party that guests can attend via their phones, tablets or laptops.

“Due to the pandemic, a physical and real reception is not possible with the large number of people present,” Padmavathi, who goes by the name of Dinesh SP, said on the phone from the southern state capital, Chennai. . “So we decided: let’s do it in the metaverse.”

With Covid-19 restrictions limiting the size of wedding gatherings, Padmavathi and Janaganandhini decided to hold their wedding reception virtually. Credit: Courtesy of SP Dinesh

Metaverse is a term used to describe virtual 3D environments in which users can congregate and interact. The groom, a 24-year-old blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiast, worked with start-up TardiVerse to create a castle-like digital space inspired by Hogwarts.

The legal marriage ceremony will still take place physically in front of close friends and relatives at Ramaswamy village in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu, about 170 miles from Chennai. But then the couple will log on to join their reception, which costs 150,000 Indian rupees ($2,016) to design, develop and host. The hour-long event will see the newlyweds virtually address their guests, who will be able to explore the castle and customize their avatars’ looks and outfits.

The couple's avatars on a Hogwarts-inspired background.  Groom Dinesh Sivakumar Padmavathi (left) said the couple's digital characters will be wearing more traditional attire at the event.

The couple’s avatars on a Hogwarts-inspired background. Groom Dinesh Sivakumar Padmavathi (left) said the couple’s digital characters will be wearing more traditional attire at the event. Credit: Courtesy of TardiVerse

Along with being able to invite guests who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend, the couple said the digital celebration has another unique benefit: they can involve Ramaswamy’s late father in the proceedings.

“My father-in-law passed away last April,” Padmavathi said. “So I create a 3D avatar that looks like him, and he’ll bless me and my fiancée. That’s something we can only do in the metaverse.”

An avatar of the late father of the bride, who passed away last year, will be present.

An avatar of the bride’s late father, who passed away last year, will be present. Credit: Courtesy of TardiVerse

There have been reports of other metaverse wedding events, including an American couple who held a physical ceremony alongside a digital ceremony on the virtual platform, Virbela. But while Indian law requires witnesses to be present at wedding ceremonies, Padmavathi believes her reception in the metaverse will be the first of its kind to be held in the country.

Having convinced his fiancée, a computer scientist, of the idea, Padmavathi also has his parents’ approval for the unconventional event, he said.

“Since I was a kid I’ve been working with robotics…and for the past year I’ve been working in blockchain and Ethereum mining,” he said, adding, “So my family knows I’m in the business. technology.”

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