One of the things that define Indian culture aside from its spicy and exhilarating variety of food, is the uniqueness of how we celebrate our weddings.
It pretty much sums up our culture with regards religious aspects, fun traditions and basically the grandeur that comes with the bonding of two families.
Now if you haven’t been to an Indian wedding before, let me start you off with some basic facts:
One, not all Indian weddings are the same. Different castes and people from different parts of the country celebrate it differently. But in essence, a lot of Hindu weddings have similar occasions.
Two, Indian ethnic wear during weddings is all part of the experience. Dressing up is half the fun! Some have a theme, some have religious connotations but whatever it is, its bright and bling and beautiful!
Three, fantastic food, bright colors and catchy music are a must. So if you’re attending an Indian wedding, be sure to bring a big appetite, an open heart for new delights and your comfiest dancing shoes (trust me, you’ll need it!).
So now you know what the kit includes, let me walk you through a friend’s wedding I was lucky to attend recently. You know how you reach an age where everyone seems to be tying the knot? Well in my little girl group, she was the first. So you can imagine how excited (and stressed, not going to lie) we were to see it all unfurl.
Without further ado, here are the things I came across and what you should look out for whilst planning to attend an Indian wedding.
(Also, spot how many times I say fun!)
A lot of Indian weddings have a lot (a lot-lot) or precursor occasions. There are poojas and dinners and family meetings and poojas and more tradition based events. But for the ones I have been to, there are about 4 main ones: A formal engagement, a night of dancing and music called Sangeet, then there is the main wedding and then Reception.
In this wedding there were 5, with one more called Haldi where you apply Turmeric on the bride’s face as its suppose to help her skin glow before her big day! Also it’s apparently auspicious and has healing properties.
But I think my friend was glowing anyway :)
This event was coupled with the formal engagement where the women attending the wedding were also applying Henna or Mehendi on their hands. Why you ask? Again, its pertaining to an auspicious aspect. Plus is fun and pretty!
Till… you get it on your clothes and you have to wait 45 minutes for it to dry so you can eat food or trick someone into feeding you!
One of my favourite parts of the wedding has to be the décor. It’s was beautiful to say the least. My friend, the bride, picked most of it, if not all. And it was nothing short of enchanting. Everything had a color scheme, it was so thematic and truly magical.
Amongst it all, the décor of the Sangeet was my favourite. There was a lawn and a beautiful entry way with decorated orchids hanging above you. And once you step in, you are greeted with a spacious colorful Shamiana filled with lights on trees, hung up from the walls, and even a stage for the dance performances!
Did I mention the display of food?
No Indian wedding is complete with a catchy array of Bollywood music. In fact, it begins when the guests arrive at the hotel and there is a group of drummers that play to celebrate your arrival. After that, there is music practically at every event!
It was so much fun when the groom’s mother invited us to dance during a ceremony called Baraat, where the boy’s family arrive at the girl’s home (in this case the designated venue since it was a destination wedding) and they dance in celebration. They also formed a circle where you dance with repetitive movements to the beat of the drums, which from what I know is called a Garba. By the way, this was totally a first for me too!
But wait, the majority of the dancing happens at the Sangeet, since it is practically the designated night for music. The family of the couple perform to rehearsed Bollywood routines on this stage.
By the way, the friends of the couple totally had to dance too. It wasn’t perfect, but it was undeniably fun!
Did I bump into another person on stage? Yup. Did I forget some steps? Of course! But it was even better when the bride’s friends from France decided to do a Bollywood number with the rest of us, including the friends of the groom. That was pretty much the highlight. They even made us do an encore with the couple themselves on stage!
I know I keep saying this was the best part, or that was my favourite moment. But the one that counted for the most was how involved we felt in the wedding process. And we were willing to do as much! Everyone was so welcoming, so friendly and so encouraging.
And that also including us holding up fireworks like a bridge when the couple entered the venue during reception. (Shashwat, this was a dream come true!)
All-in-all this is what weddings are supposed to be about right?
You dance to celebrate happiness, you meet new and interesting people, you get ready with your friends with having just one mirror to share, sharing make-up, playing music and helping each other with Sarees, and making it work nevertheless.
You never fail to make great memories.
I know what you must be thinking, Niki you’re the most sentimental person I know, didn’t you cry? Well, weddings come with sentimentality. And there were many times I looked at my friend and just remembered how she would encourage me to quit copying her accounts homework and learn things for myself (but give in anyway and let me copy anyway!), and I realized how much that one person was a part of our group. And you can’t help but be happy with the realization that she will now bring that better part of herself to someone else’s life.
So finally, Sue if you’re reading this you took time management to a whole new level, it was inspiring. You have outdone yourself and proven to the world that you can have a demanding full time job and still pull off one of the more memorable weddings I have been fortunate enough to attend.
From the homely attention we received from your family to even taking the time to individually select the gifts you gave us. I am so proud of you and the woman you have grown to be.
May you and Mohit experience nothing but happiness, travel to your heart’s content, chart out the best life possible and never stop spotting a ton of rare stars in the sky.
Your scientific calculator-ness will be missed.
May you realize happiness like never before,