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Prada And Weddings Don’t Mix (Part 1)

Prada And Weddings Don’t Mix (Part 1)

November 06, 2011

So much tradition, so many beautiful differences. But an Indian wedding can be dangerous for a foreigner…or at least for her shoes.

Only two short weeks after my arrival in India I had the real privilege to attend a colleagues wedding in Bangalore.  This wasn't an opulent wedding like the ones I've seen in Bollywood films but without a doubt it is an experience that I will never forget and that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Weddings in India are almost the complete opposite to any of the other weddings I've attended in the U.S., France or Spain -- they are fun and loud and just a little bit dangerous.

First, it was a FABULOUS reason to buy my first sari and that in itself was a fantastic experience.  Just like the wedding, I will never forget shopping for my first sari, the fittings or the way I felt when it was finally draped on me.  Yet throwing on a sari is not as easy as 1-2-3.  And add to that the fact that I’ve never worn one or watched anyone drape a sari before and you can imagine that I was a bit lost.  Honestly, it would have been impossible for me to dress myself.

Luckily the salons here in India have hair/makeup/sari draping packages so I could go sort myself out because I had no clue what to do with those 9 yards of fabric or the petticoat.  Without help I would have looked pretty scrappy doing it on my own while watching some lame how-to video on YouTube as my guide!  I think I would have turned out looking like a mummy at Halloween in a belly-top. I had three women “working” on me.  Step one was tying my petticoat as tight as possible on my hips.  Step two was the wrapping, tugging, pulling, and shoving of pleated fabric down into my petticoat .  It was wild.  All I can say is thank God for safety pins because I didn’t have brooches yet and without them my sari would have been falling all over the place!  Saris are sexy, beautiful and so wonderful to wear…I felt so, so, so feminine in mine.  But DAMN was it hard to walk around in. I mean, come on, without practice who could possibly walk normally after being pulled, tugged and wrapped up in 9 yards of fabric akin to what luggage at the airport goes through with those bubble wrap machines.  At least I stayed on my feet all night and didn’t fall!

Being the only foreigner at the wedding, everyone was quite kind to let me experience each step in the process.
Tradition calls for the groom’s car to be met outside and for the bride’s family and friends to feed him sweets!  So I went down with the group, a small plate with sweet pastry treats and a glass of water.  Yep, water, not champagne!  It was strange to me.  But no one seemed to miss the fact that there was no champagne.  Personally I can't remember having ever been to a wedding without it but that’s part of the difference and beauty of India, isn’t it?  So...when in Rome... we fed the groom sweets and gave him some water and then we all went back to the flat to start the ceremony.

Above all else, Indian brides are the queens of the day and are absolutely stunning.  My colleague was draped in a shimmering red and gold sari with equally ornate jewellery and with just the right amount of bling-bling that I had expected from an Indian wedding after having watched so many Bollywood flicks. Her makeup and henna was also very exotic and lovely, like nothing I had ever seen.  In the U.S. and Europe, the brides are typically dressed in some shade of white with subtle and demure makeup.  There is no bling-bling on our brides.  Gramma’s pearls, yes.  Bling, no!

Indian wedding ceremonies start out with the bride and groom each meeting with family, friends and the priest separately -- in two different rooms.  Like so much of the culture here, a wedding is 100% a group and family affair, not simply something private between two people. Both are fed sweet pastries again, which I find really interesting because in the U.S. and Europe brides count calories to squeeze into the smallest wedding dresses possible to ensure a perfect silhouette in the photos – so they would never agree to eat so many sweets.  But this is India, so let’s bless the ever-forgiving sari because it hides all of this nibbling.  The bride and groom both also speak with the priest and senior family members who either sprinkled herbs on their head or blessed them by placing one hand on their head when their turn was done.  It is really sweet, actually.

Eventually we were all asked to move to the main room where the ceremony took place.  At that time tradition also dictated that we remove our shoes. Now, I really didn’t want to seem prissy but I had a couple of problems with this.  First, my sari had been draped on me WITH my shoes as the height guide so if I took them off I was going to be stuck “carrying” a fist-full of sari for the rest of the night to avoid stepping on it — or more likely — tripping all over it.  But, okay…I will know better for next time.  Second, everyone was simply throwing their shoes into a pile just outside the entrance in a hallway.  There were no shoe racks.  The problem was that I was wearing my new gold Prada sling-backs that I had worn only once.  I had this really sinking feeling about leaving them out for some reason.  The whole scene was reminiscent of that Sex & the City episode when someone stole Carrie’s new Manolo Blahnik’s at a party when she was forced to leave them at the door. Now, I didn’t think someone would steal them; I just didn’t want to leave them where they could be damaged.  But again, okay.  I would know better for next time.

The bride was then moved into the main room where the groom had been waiting for her.  Shortly before that, the groom had changed into something that to me looked a bit like a regal genie costume, white and super transparent puffy trousers, a wife-beater (sorry but it's the best name to describe the tank top/vest he had on) and a formal vest over the wife-beater.  The ensemble was so transparent that we could all see his undies. In fact, only a few days prior I had seen wedding photos of one of my other work mates and his white ceremonial wedding outfit was even MORE transparent than this groom’s and it even exposed his bare chest!  Seems wrong that I can’t bare my shoulders in public but guys can show their chests and undies?  Well, anyway….

Indian brides do not wear full veils like in western weddings.  Instead, my colleague draped a beautiful matching scarf from her head (or maybe it was connected and part of the sari?), she wore stunning ornate jewellery that fell atop her forehead and more.  Tradition states that the bride is to cover her face with two large green leaves as she enters the room to conceal her face from the groom as she walks around her husband a few times with the help of her family.  It’s sweet.

After a bit of ceremony and prayer, both the bride and the groom were then lifted up into the air by friends and family.  At that moment the bride dropped the leaves that she had been holding so that the groom could finally see his lovely bride.

.....to be continued!

NOTES: If I made any mistakes with the wedding details please do forgive me, I was busy enjoying myself and didn’t take notes! 

4 Comments

  • Dee Kay
    By
    Dee Kay
    11.11.11 12:42 AM
    Tip about the sari if you are wearing it the "normal" nivi way is to think about kicking the pleats outwards as you walk. It makes walking easier and you look as if you are floating! Also, the usual length is 6 yards of cloth. It's only nine if you wear the "trouser style" or some other complicated style!
  • Rituparna
    By
    Rituparna
    10.11.11 07:03 PM
    Oh! This sounds like a good old bong wedding to me. Good these weddings are good, tiring, funny & irritating affairs. I'll remember to go in for a court marriage or be born in a different community in the next life.
    Phoo ....
    I am breaking into a sweat ...
  • Writerzblock
    By
    Writerzblock
    06.11.11 03:48 PM
    Lol! Loooved this post..
  • Isabel
    By
    Isabel
    06.11.11 03:40 PM
    "guys can show their chests and undies" LOL!

    I'm glad you enjoyed your first Indian wedding. I'm sure you'll be invited to a lot more! I'm looking forward to finding out what happens to your gold Pradas...

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