For those of you who’ve landed on this page and have no clue of its origins please take a few minutes to review Part 1 of The Big Fat Indian Wedding. Go on… I’ll wait.
Now that you know the happy couple have been “officially” engaged, its time to skip to D-Day and see how the wedding went.
Day N Festivity 1: “I declare thee… dunked…”
Bleary-eyed members of the bride’s party wake up early in the morning to prepare for the first ceremony of the day.
(We were bleary eyed from the extra curriculars of the previous night – from the Gadda vs Rajai debate to the puppet elephants to the paintings to the Giggling Gang. The bunch of us completely WASTED a perfectly nice evening over inconsequential matters. The quote of the night came late in the evening, when we were all severely sleep deprived.
“Neend is like Chicken – sometimes pak jaati hai, sometimes aa jaati hai, sometimes ud jaati hai”.
Those 10 hours would make for a very hilarious post in itself, but seeing how I’ve been unable to post often, I’m gonna let it be.)
After a quick shower and a family breakfast, we get thrown out into the streets. Don’t get me wrong – the family still wants us at the wedding (we haven’t even done nething yet!); its just that we need to go fetch something.
The day’s first ceremony is bringing the temple to the bride as a sign of good luck. How do we move an immovable property you ask? We move its movable parts – we take some holy water to dunk the bride in 🙂
So there we were, accompanied by a dhol (another instrument I totally hav to get my hands on – sharp beats, easy to fix and noisy as hell!), dancing our feet off in broad daylight, on our way to the neighbourhood temple to get a jug of water. Seriously tempted by the ice cream outlet right outside the temple, ( we refrained ourselves from it; some kid in the dancing party dint – and many of us gazed longingly at that cup of ice cream) we head back home to make sure the bride is all cleaned up. We dint dunk the bride in the water after all… We handed it to her in a civil manner for her to make use of later in the day.
Magic Moments: The dhol wala’s expressions and head-shaking as he grooved to the beat. (U just had to be thr to see this – it was like an Indian classical dancer… With less grace and more… Feel. Y’know wat I mean…)
Day N Festivity 2 – “Paint the town yellow”
We then engaged the bride in a bonafide game of paintball. Relatives and friends take the opportunity to apply a coat of turmeric paste (laced, I think, with moisturiser and cream to take the ‘edge’ off) to the bride, believed to be a method to get her complexion to improve. (As if they think they can beat wat the guys at the beauty parlour missed. Duh. ).
We’re joined once again by the friendly neighbourhood dhol wala (Somehow he knew how to turn up at all the ryt moments…) and the bride joined us on the makeshift dance floor, before rushing off to make use of the holy water we got her to clean up after the mess we made of her..
Magic Moments: The bride dancing to the beats of the dhol, joined by her extended family. It was… a moment that Visa doesn’t pay for.
Day N Festivity 3: “And…You’re next!”
The next ceremony is the tying of the Chooda (a big bunch of color coordinated bangles) and the “hanging umbrellas”. The bangles are ritually cleansed and tied on to the bride’s hands while she’s blindfolded, and onli removed before the actual wedding.
Then, in a ceremony that hints at the bride-in-waiting (kinda like the throwing of the bouquet), the bride has a trinket tied in both of her wrists (also supposed to be a good luck charm) and all she has to do is hold it above the heads of the single ladies and see who’s head it cracks on. Given the age of plastic and glue, its kinda hard for the trinket to break – so many of us made use of the time to get a pic with the bride in the process.
Magic Moments: When the trinket almost caught in someone’s hair, but still dint crack. And the look on one of her younger cousin’s face when he was asked to pose for a snap.
After this there was a long break, when the bride took a trip to the parlour and we had not much to do. A few ppl took a trip to the groom’s place, where they were getting him ready for the wedding as well, but I took the time to slip off into dreamland.
Day N: “I declare you man and wife… Finally”
So after awakening from slumber (or in some ppls case, after returning from the parlour and their walk-in wardrobe), we make our way to the venue in batches. I noted that at this point in the evening, its quite chilly being mid-Feb – but almost EVERYone at the wedding was dressed like it was the peak of summer!! In order to not stick out nemore like a sore thumb than I already did, I followed suit and carried only a light jacket.(of course I wud regret this much later in the evening… But if I did write like I thought very far ahead, I wudnt really be able to type out a proper “story” post wud I…?). A bunch of us get ready, clicks pics for FB and head out in the general direction of our cars. I joined a family en route to the wedding (everyone seemed to know everyone at the wedding, so I was treated as just another kid in need of a ride and not as an invading “outsider”. I’ll give you some background on whr that statement comes from. At most Tam-Brahm weddings I’ve been at, every conversation attempts to map out your entire family tree and place you in one of 2 sets of ppl – the insiders (related or not they ALL know each other) and the outsiders (whom not many know and even fewer pay attention to); and here I was at a wedding where ppl onli guessed who I was… And were still kind enough to offer me a ride 🙂 ). I was joined, to my surprise, by the outstanding “Dhunki” performer from the last evening along with a few friends and some of the little kids’ family. We spent the short ride to the venue discussing the previous evening’s happenings and general chit-chat (where do u work, whr r u frm etc etc).
Here comes the Groom
As we arrived at the venue, the groom was on his horse (or was it a mule…?) waiting for his baraatis to finish dancing (the dhol walle were really at it this time too) and the bride’s family to get ready to welcome him. After a while, he got off his pedestal and joined them for some “not-so-well-mannered frivolity” (I borrow inspiration for this phrase from Prof. McGonagall. Remember the “Goblet of Fire” movie…). Soon after, the bride’s younger sister and other family members got ready to welcome him – and demanded a stupendous bribe to let him through. Needless to say, he had to pay up – after all, he had to get married, and he couldn’t be left stranded at the gate just because his ideals (or his wallet) didn’t allow for a bribe. (Me thinks he only paid a fraction of how much was demanded, but seeing as it was a customary tradition and not a means of income, I think everyone was happy). The groom and his minions then walked up onto the dais, and promptly occupied all of it (in the hope that they could bribe the bride in exchange for her seat.)
Here comes the Bride
And she was accompanied by Mendelsson’s signature-sque tune used in ALL weddings in Northern India (I got confirmation of this from a friend of mine who recently got married, and also from the venue next door where the same tune played minutes after it played at our venue). She glided onto the stage, followed by her minions i.e. us. After hearing the ridiculous request for a bribe, the bride took the much-expected “emotional atyachar” route. While the groom’s minions couldn’t care less, the groom knew his future was in jeopardy because his friends were greedy – and (I suspect this, since I missed the live telecast of this part) quietly asked them to leave the stage. And just like that, the bride’s side were one-up 🙂 (remember – we got the groom at the gate)
After a customary session of photo shoots and a quick Varmaala ceremony (where both the bride and the groom exchange garlands) ppl slowly move on the main event of the evening – socialising with one another. The poor bride and groom lay forgotten on the stage (the hawk-eyed photographer kept a mindful eye on them) while the guests chatted up one another amidst chaat and mocktails. By now almost everyone had found the ppl they knew at the wedding and got chatty with one another. As the evening got chillier, small coal fires were let around the venue, and groups of ppl subconsciously “occupied” a fire each (in my case, the flimsy jacket and the onset of the common cold necessitated that I stay very close to a warm place) . As the evening wore on, chaat gave way to dinner and the bride and the groom resumed their photo sessions with family and friends. And the guests took the time to get their memoirs of the wedding too.
A few hours and many coal fires later, we settled down for the “real” wedding. A small bunch of ppl partake in another ritual – the “joota chori” – and hide the grooms shoes. (The logic is that you can’t sit in any holy ritual with your shoes on – and an opportunity to make a quick buck is born. Needless to say, the groom has no option but to give in and pay the bribe this time around – after all he’s gotta be going home ryt…?).
This part of the wedding entails sitting around another fire while the bride and the groom recite verses and stoke the fire. And then go round the fire to take their vows and complete their pheras (For the unaware, google the pheras – millions of youtube videos from movies and soap operas shud give u a sense of how it happens). And the groom binds his bride with the Mangalsutra (a holy thread signifying they’re married). And somewhere in the middle of all this the Chooda is opened (remember the umbrella-shaped charms from the morning…?). And a few other minor rituals are completed, while ppl are silently waiting for the wedding to get done. This part of the wedding is the least “fun” since it’s almost entirely a ritual (and also cuz its taking place at an unearthly hour in the morning; I recollect a few yawn-filled pictures doing the rounds…). Soon after, the bride is whisked away and the few of us left awake make our way back to reality – away from a setting where dance and laughter is all your day’s about – and head home.
And thus endeth the chronicles of this awesome wedding. And the “Just Married” live “Happily Ever After”.
And thus endeth my chronicle of this wedding. I know its probably wayy too late… But I know the bride and the groom will enjoy reading this – if only to relive a few moments of that awesome day.
Coming soon: another guest post. Stay tuned!