Recently I had an interesting encounter with an English girl who was visiting India for her friend’s wedding. I was travelling to Dubai and my flight was further going to London. On my very next seat, there was an English girl who was travelling back to her home in London. She was smiling while looking some photos in her phone. I’m not very much of a talkative person but this really made me curious.
So we talked and here is what she told me:
Her name was Sarah White. She was a 26-year-old working girl in an MNC in London. Born and brought up in England only, her entire upbringing and lifestyle is British or European to be precise.
Recently she agreed to experience something which she had always wondered about.
Her colleague cum friend Shweta who is working with them from past two years had invited her to attend her wedding ceremony back in her country India.
She told me that her curiosity about the weddings in India was already to its peek when she used to show pictures on Facebook that how her cousins are getting married and the ceremonies and the cultural functions. I definitely said yes to the invitation.
Upon hearing this I became more curious about how did she felt here in our country? I literally wanted to take an opinion from an outsider about our culture.
Clearly I could see the excitement on her face about the whole scenario. So here is what she told me about her overall experience of an Indian wedding.
Shweta already explained them about the importance and the reason behind every ceremony or function that was going to happen over the course of three days.
So this was her brief crash course about an Indian wedding! So, if you are reading this and yet to attend your first big fat Indian wedding then this question might pop up in your head that how come a wedding is stretched to 3 days? Right? Believe me if you read this till the end you’d get an idea of why they are in this way.
Day 1: On her flight to New Delhi I was searching about anything that came across my mind regarding India. The image she had earlier is quiet different now. This country is not just about Yoga, Karma or Kamasutra but they are almost equally as good as England in technology and GDP.
Let me put this in her exact words for the better understanding of the tone and expressions.
After reaching to the hotel I rushed my way back to Shweta’s house where some ceremony had already started. They even hired one of the best event management companies in Jaipur for these 3 days who took care of arranging everything.
Well, for guests list of this size you’d definitely go for someone to outsource your work load. Being a person with OCD, I might even go for 2 wedding planners for this much gathering.
The first day ceremony was named ‘Haldi’ which was simultaneously going on with different traditional songs sung by the ladies. I was told that the same thing was going on in the groom’s house.
The number of relatives and friends that were present over there made me question whether we English people are anti social or what? because I don’t even know this many relatives of mine except for my 2 uncles from my father’s side. I was told that few of their relatives couldn’t even come. What! More relatives!
Despite the huge number of people that were present over there somehow everybody knew their role. And everything was working fine.
That is something you might wonder when you see if you’re not an Indian or never been there. This country works! People here make it work! And all the cultural or religious values are perfectly passed on to generations to generations making everything looked like it is a rhythm of events.
I was so warmly welcomed by everyone that within few hours I started to feel like I am part of something bigger and everybody present over there were a part of it too. I could sense the vibe and felt so bliss in being such an environment.
By the time of evening when the ceremony ended then I got to talk to everyone about how things are planned and executed there.
An Indian marriage is way more than two people start to living with each other. There were some things which her family took care of months before this final event. So here are those things that you might wonder after imagining:
This might seem like a totally different concept to you if you are from the west like me. Shweta’s matchmaking with her yet to be husband was done by her family. They were looking for eligible boys and finalized this boy Abhimanyu for her. Luckily her family didn’t hammer this as an order on Shweta. The matchmaking was done before asking her, whether if she wanted someone specifically. But this wasn’t the scene in India back in the days. Parents use to determine the fate of their children’s love life.
Well you might want to call this as a tiered matchmaking because after the selection for eligible boy the families of both bride and groom checks whether they are suitable for each other in terms of astrology. This is checked by a priest cum astrologer of the family.
So with these two things you’d understand that the importance and indulgence of the family in Indian society.
For commencing an event of this huge level you’d definitely need some professional help. Here comes the wedding planner. These guys bring magic to the occasion. They take care of everything from arranging items for priest’s work to checking upon food. Back in the day this work was also divided in between relatives/friends/neighbours. I am sure by now you have got an idea of how much welcoming the Indians are. Everything that was needed by anyone was taken care of these professional wedding planner’s team. Even the makeup of bride and her friends. How delightful! Just show up, smile, dance and take back good memories.
The Ring Ceremony
The second day was the Ring ceremony. This was bigger event than the previous day. Since both the bride and groom’s families and friends were present on the same venue. This was my first encounter with Abhimanyu and his family. They were equally welcoming and warm towards me. By this time I was already in a state of being festive since the whole decoration and arrangement was in this way only. The flowers, the dresses, the makeup, the traditional songs sung by the ladies and FOOD!
How can I forget to write on such an important aspect of the Indian wedding. I could even write for another 5000 words on food only since it was so custom made and important.
My complete 3 days stay was literally like an ode for my stomach. I suggest you to take part in an Indian wedding without being calorie cautious. And believe me it is worth every calorie. Sweets of several varieties were shared on each and every moment. And just speaking of two days I had already seen and tasted so much of sweets that I won’t ever get to see anywhere.
I get to speak with Tarun who was one of the members of the wedding planner team. He said that this is nothing as compared to what will be served on the next day on the final wedding ceremony.
And it wasn’t just Shweta’s family who were doing it big but weddings in India are generally huge and full of events. Obviously, everyone does it according to their financial state but not as private or I may say less festive as compared to west.
This second day went with ring ceremony followed by dance and dinner.
The Day Has Arrived
And here comes the day. I was told by Shweta to arrive in the noon just to prepare for the main event. At first I thought that it is very early for me to reach and prepare for something that starts in evening around 8. But she was right. The reason behind it was it takes immense amount of work to get dressed in Indian outfit for an Indian wedding. The makeup session only, took around 2 hours. I was told that her family members were also busy in the events and other work at home. So clearly everybody was up to something that they were supposed to do.
We finally reached the venue at around 7:30 in evening. The big garden which was totally covered in tent which they called ‘Pandaal’ looked so beautiful and full of colours. The team who planned this literally was professional since decorating such big garden is something not easy.
The groom arrived later on the venue with his ‘Baarat’ (a group consisting of all the family members/friends/known).
As promised by Tarun the food varied from Chinese snacks, Italian cuisine, Indian main course, several desserts. The number of items present cannot be described. Indians do take their appetite seriously! Just like their weddings.
Bon Appétit to all!
Everything went well and by the late night when only very close family and friends were present there the main ceremony was performed by a Hindu priest with several rituals which included their family members too.
Next day when I had to leave for London I was taking back a lot of memories and something that I haven’t even imagined to exist. So warmth between each other. Everything seemed festive and colourful. An event that was planned so big that couldn’t be forgotten.
Clearly whatever she has told me I can judge that she liked whatever she experienced. Somehow from these things we give a gesture of family bonding, cooperation, compassion to someone who is from totally different background.