Colorful is an understatement: an Indian Wedding

January 28, 2010

The day before the wedding came, i.e. after lunch at the Rao’s, and Ujjwal invited me to go out to a pre-party with him and his fiance’s friends that night, and sleep over his house so I could just go straight to the wedding with his family.

Quickly, I went shopping for an outfit for the wedding. Ummm????? I thought it might be odd, and definitely expensive, to wear a sari. So I bought a nice (lime green!) kurti, which is a bit like a long shirt/tunic. I got approval from a couple other Indian girls in the dressing room– they said it was “cool” and gave me a thumbs up. Done.

I got picked up from my guest house– party time. Indians, especially the Indian men, totally know how to get down. And they are not at all shy about dancing together, or being affectionate. Quite a refreshing thing to see! And pretty much everyone was around my age and really open and friendly– so I met other great people there. [In general, met so many wonderful people. Though I admittedly had to ask their names like 3 times and I still can only remember a few..eeek sorrry!]

The next morning the “getting ready” and rituals began around some ridiculously early hour for Ujjwal and Disha (she was obviously in a separate place). Ujjwal’s mom woke me around 7:30am; I showered, put on my kurti, and went out to the living room area…. got one look from Babba and her friend Gayatri (who was helping the women get dressed and made-up) like “Oh nonono!“Luckily Ujjwal’s sister, Kavita, had an extra sari. Gayatri wrapped, folded and pinned me, did my hair, and put some pink blush all over about half my face 🙂 After they seriously came to realize I had absolutely no jewelry except for some small earrings, Kavita kindly gave me a necklace, earrings and bangles– otherwise the outfit would have been very incomplete!!

Around 11am we–as in me and much of Ujjwal’s close family, which was a lot of people– proceeded to the wedding hall for the morning ceremony–see the photos here. I sat next to Mamma Sa (sa is for respect) in the car– her endearing family nickname is now easy to remember. I thought Mamma Sa, had the most beautiful dark skin and this wonderful sparkle in her eye, plus a really spunky personality. And she did the Indian head nod that I love– this kinda of side to side motion that’s not shaking your head yes or no, but can mean either. For some particular reason I just loved it when she did that.

We got to the wedding hall and I sat with Ujjwal’s whole family before beginning the procession to the bride’s family, with Ujjwal on a horse and everyone else following. Lalita and another very warm outgoing woman (argh, I forget her name)…especially took me in and made sure to include me in EVERYTHING (e.g. the very small circle of people dancing in the front of the whole crowd when the families came together).

The various ceremonial rituals lasted for a couple hours. Then, of course, we ate!

All of the food was in this big hall, for both the morning ceremony and evening reception. Most of the food from North India, as that is where both family's are from originally, and some from the South. They also have Chinese--Indian food; about this, I have no comment.

Finally back to Ujjwals– more interesting and fun rituals for a few hours! These also included many rounds of teas, and lots and lots of laughter. It was absolutely amazing to be a part of it all. The family was so amazingly hospitable and inclusive .

During this wedding ritual, the bride negotiates with men in the groom’s family for a certain amount of money– one includes hiding his shoes and “bribing” him to give enough money before he get’s them back!

We then had an hour or so to rest before getting ready for the evening ceremony. Horrors, I had to wear the same sari! I had spoken to multiple women about this and the conversation went something like: Them: ‘You don’t have another sari?’ Me: ‘No, no this is the only one.’ Them: ‘Ohh. OK….you sure you don’t have another??!!’  However, not all was lost, for Gaytri folded it as they do in Northern India (I had worn it Southern style in the morning).

So, back to the hall at 8pm for the reception. More people came to this part, during which  the guests greeted the family, gave gifts and– of course– ate!  Amazingly, this wedding was a “small” one– only 400 people. They also cut down on the dancing and music part, I think mostly due to the limited time Ujjwal was in India. Regardless, this was plenty of wonder to take in. Hours later, I got a ride back with Ambika and Ajay to my 350 rupee per night hotel room (really hard to find cheap and decent places here in Chennai- I’n glad that one only a one night thing).

I am still in semi-shock and awe — how fast it happened, the beautiful people and traditions, how tight (and huge!) the families are… I am so grateful to have experienced this in such a comprehensive way.

2 Responses to “Colorful is an understatement: an Indian Wedding”

  1. Louise C Says:

    I enjoyed your blog of an Indian wedding. Perhaps one day I will have the opportunity to see one first hand. Please drop by and visit our blog about another Indian wedding and trip to India.

  2. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?

    you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is wonderful, let alone
    the content!

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