The one thing so insanely awesome of living in India is exposure to SO many cultures other than ur own (Its another matter that my exposure to my own culture is somewhat limited… But I’ll get to that point a little later). What better way to experience culture than to attend a family gathering that tops all others – a wedding 🙂
I was lucky enough to know not one but two amazing ppl getting married on the same day. And, coincidentally, to each other.
Here’s my recount of what the wedding was all about. For simplicity and anonymity I’ll omit names and use nicknames or cliches.
Day -n: “Stop Right There”
The ceremony is day -n because it ends before all the official ceremonies of the wedding begins. Its a ceremony called a Roka (its Hindi equivalent translates to “Stop Right There“) which is the equivalent of an unofficial engagement announcement making it clear to the community that both the bride and groom are unofficially off-limits. Secretly, I think it gives the groom a chance to re-think his decision – but in this particular case the groom was so frigging cute that he wouldn’t back out even if you handed him the keys to a Maserati minutes before the wedding vows.
Attendees: Closest friends and family.
Magic Moments: The poses for the pics that found their way to FB(since Facebook wants even its ticker to read FB I think its fair to say they would mind the acronym cropping up on the blogosphere).
Day -2: “Now and Forever”
The ceremony that takes place a mere 2 days before the wedding, the Mehendi, is when bride gets a “good luck charm” in herbal ink. It is when the bride announces to the world that the groom’s name is etched on her palm for “now and forever”. Its also when almost all the ladies at the function also join in and drive the Mehendi fellow crazy – but I wasn’t there so I can’t comment on whether he was driven mad or how mad he got.
Elderly relatives lead the way to a cultural reunion by singing songs of the yesteryears. For the feel and the rustic feel, an old dholak is brought out – a horizontal percussion instrument that’s beat on both ends to generate a booming bass sound from one broad end and a treble beat from the other narrower end (definitely an instrument that can add a noisy twist to an otherwise silent function. Note to self: get dholak if parents disallow drums). The ladies of the house devise a simple method to add a cymbal layer to the beat – and bring out a trusted spoon to accompany the dholak. (A certain guest at the wedding mentioned that it was her ‘core competency’ to play the spoon – so I do imagine that its a tradition that occurs quite frequently at weddings; but I haven’t seen her in action – so I can’t comment on her skill or lack thereof.)
And soon everyone at the function gets their hair down to celebrate. Kids and old ladies alike, the dance floor is thronged by joyous friends and relatives who celebrate the bride’s happiness. The DJ (yes, nowadays DJs rock at these small family functions too) sets the dance feel with recent songs. And, more often that not, the bride hits the dance floor herself.
Attendees: Close friends and family, Dholak and occasionally the groom.
Magic Moments (and what I missed): the “ooh la laa” performance by the bride and the groom. (The performance was reprised at the wedding dinner, but a little birdie told me that it lacked the oomph that the dance at the Mehendi had)
Day -1: “I got you… Almost”
The engagement ceremony – consisting of a ring ceremony and some other rituals – when the groom realised that he was gonna be bankrupted 😉
I arrived at the star-decked venue along with my friends, fresh from a ride from the airport. Shortly thereafter the groom arrived and his rituals were wrapped up quite quickly while we got chatty with other ppl in the crowd – the fellow brides-party-ppl (there just isn’t a translation of ladki-walle is thr…?!), our rival groom’s-party-ppl (aka ladke-walle) and some fence sitters (eyeing the bounty at the wedding no doubt). A while later the bride traipsed into the room, followed by the watchful eyes of the camera crew. She looked exquisite and nervous at the same time – quite a state considering that I’ve barely ever seen her in either state.
Very soon the ring ceremony commenced – rings were exchanged, photos were clicked and bride and groom heaved a sigh of relief (Not so sure about the groom though…). The Hawk-eyed photographer continued a brief photo session with the just-engageds. The guests watched as he advised the bride to tilt her head at a demure angle of 3 degrees and then adjust the pitch of her head by another few degrees (he dint use mathematical measures – instead he enacted the head movements himself). He then moved on to “arranging” the groom and bride into HILARIOUS positions – what’s more this will figure in their wedding memoirs to be embarrassed for a lifetime :). He then left the bride and groom alone for a while (and they continued to converse in peace for a while – we, on the other hand, were busy imagining an alter-conversation. We enacted a conversation where they were fighting over who got late and why – and its almost like their facial expressions were in sync with our story. As it turns out, it was an entirely different topic altogether… but my imagination aint never gonna rest now…).
Soon after we hit the dance floor (simply bcuz we were bored of dancing where we were seated) and were joined by most of the crowd. A little kid’s rendition of “Chammak Challo” has the lyrics seared in my memory; and another’s rendition of “Dhunki” made me google the song to download.
The evening ended stylishly with guests grooving to other songs, the bride and the groom hitting the dance floor. All in all – an evening well worth the late night.
Attendees: Friends, Family, Hawk-eyed photographer
Magic Moments: The bride’s and groom’s younger siblings re-enaction of the love story complete with a bollywood song and dance routine.
This is Part 1 of the Wedding Chronicles. I promise myself to post Part 2 before the end of the fortnight.
I also reckon I should reschristen my weekly postings to bi-monthly to make them seem more accurate.