Sunday, March 15, 2009

Swati and Himanshu's Wedding.....

Before we arrived in India, Linda and I had both read during the "researching" phase of our India Adventure, that attending an Indian wedding is an incredible experience and .....chances were good that we would be invited to attend one while we were living in India. That premise held true, and this past Thursday we attended our first Indian wedding.

I was honored when Amit, our GM for Technical Services and Engineering, presented me with the invitation to attend his sister's wedding. As a matter of fact, I was so excited, that I couldn't wait to return home to announce to Linda and Preston that we had been invited....

Although I am not an "expert" on Indian weddings, I will impart what little I do know, to give all of you back home reading the blog a sense of how things differ from the traditional "western" wedding.

Weddings in India take place on days that are considered "auspicious" by the priest or "pandit"....These are days that are considered to be "special" according to Hindu tradition.

Recently there was an article in the paper that over 20,000 weddings had taken place in New Delhi alone......on one day in February. There are over 165 such days in the Hindu calender.....and we can HEAR weddings taking place from our apartment. Yes...hear them.

Swati and Himanshu's wedding was no different.....the Swagat Barat, or Grooms Procession, takes place with much fanfare.....there are fireworks and a band to announce his arrival.....he is dressed in clothes befitting a "maharajah" and traditionally arrives on horseback or on an elephant.....

Fireworks, the band.....dancing family......it truly reminded Linda and I of a mini Mardi Gras parade......

Once he arrives, there is a small greeting ceremony that is conducted by the Brides family.....welcoming the grooms family...once the groom arrives, he sits on a stage and waits for his bride to join him......she sits on his right until the ceremony is complete. And yes, there is the exchange of the the "garland of flowers".......remember my "inadvertent" wedding to Jeshri, my Indian wife...

The food is elaborate......the clothing is gorgeous.....and the wedding ceremony for the family doesn't end until about 3:00 in the morning. Yes.....it lasts approximately 6 hours......we unfortunately couldn't stay for the entire ceremony as the wedding took place on a school night......but....it was an honor to be invited and a part of our adventure that will remain a highlight of our experience here in India.

Here are a few other things to note from the pictures.....Notice the intricate henna artwork on the brides hands......somewhere incorporated into the design are the letters from the alphabet that make up her husbands name......she is supposed to try and identify them......the henna artwork is a symbol of fertility......

The jewelry is given to the bride by her family...it is her dowry of sorts.....part of the ceremony takes place under the arch...where the bride and groom walk around a ceremonial fire 7 times each reciting certain things....this is the part we couldn't stay for......She will wear the red bangles on her arm for one year indicating that she is a newly married bride.

Like weddings in the US...it is a very special and festive occasion, but the entire week is filled with activities.....both the bride and groom, after 7 days of activities and a ceremony that lasts until 3:00am, must be exhausted and ready for things to be over.....

If you are invited to a wedding, you can ask other people to attend with you.......it is common...yes we could have invited some friends to join us....people that neither party knows......they adopt the philosophy that the more people the merrier.....this does not happen in the US.....attendance is sometime very strictly controlled....sometimes children are eliminated all together....and never could you bring someone...unannounced.

India is INCREDIBLE...and I hope that we are once again honored with another invitation to a wedding while we are here.

In the last picture....from left to right....Amit's Mother (the brides mother), Amit's wife, Swati(the Bride), Amit, and Amit's Father

Enjoy the pictures!

4 comments:

Pradyumna said...

Hi sir,
I belong to Vizag. Like, i googled "Hilton" hotel one day and came across your blog. It was/is pretty interesting. I read it inside out, entirely and it is good to know you have had a taste of India, a land of multi-cultures and colours,...and u also liked it! I also appreciate the good things you said about this country and its people.Vizag is one beautiful place, and setting a HILTON hotel here is great actually.It would be nice to make your acuaintance!

Cheers,
Pradyumna
mpradyumna38@gmail.com

areason2write said...

Thanks for sharing the wonderful story and pictures!

SpReAdInG LoVe™ said...

Yeppe yep!
A good read about my India, my culture and err not my marriage :D
from a foreigner.

Wish you have a great time spent here and keep your adventures rolling.

Cheers!

saachi2009 said...

Your excitement is infectious. Its been ages since I attended a proper Indian wedding.
Indian Hindu weddings are interesting. Each region has its own customs and rituals. In the East, the groom does not arrive on
horse back and the bride sits on a wooden slab and is carried by her brothers to the groom.
In the South, in one community, the bride is made to sit on her father's lap and then on the groom's signifying the transition.
However most Hindu weddings do have the ritual of circling around fire 7 times.
There is a lot to learn from you and your family. You are enjoying yourself in a new culture and making the most of it.
Do keep at it.