Click here to read part one.
DANG…Indian weddings are L-O-N-G. After the leaves dropped there were a couple of hours of ceremony with the priest chanting, speaking, blessing, and doing his thing. I sort of wish I had taken notes now because I couldn’t recall even a handful of the details sadly. And again, unlike western weddings which are highly choreographed, those couple of hours were a time of real audience participation too because the priest was in constant need of something — herbs, flowers, red powder, a bowl, etc etc…and this particular wedding was quite fantastic and riddled with mayhem. And to be fair, I suppose because the priest was sitting down most of the time, it was probably easier for him to simply call out to the people sitting around him then to stand up everytime he needed something given that he didn’t have staff with him. This gave the wedding a real interactive feel that’s for sure!
One of the last traditions before the ceremony is done is for the couple to walk around a pit of fire seven times. But we weren’t inside of a church or courtyard or spacious hall or elaborate tent. We were inside of a flat so this complicated things tremendously and this one step was responsible for the only crying moment of the whole ceremony. We westerners tend to tear up or cry at weddings — even men at times! But I didn’t witness a single tear of emotion at the Indian wedding. I think it might be in part because they go on for so long and there doesn’t seem to be one climactic moment for a good cry! Anyway, the priest added some type of herb to the mini bon-fire now ablaze in the tiny flat and the couple walked around it time and again. The fumes were so severe and they drifted right up into the bride’s face that she really suffered and streams of tears rolled down her cheeks. In fact, most every one of the guests had watery eyes from it but the priest just kept on going like a trooper!
If I’m not mistaken, this tradition ensures that a couple will be together not only in this life but also in their future lives. Now, as beautiful a sentiment as that may be, I have to say that I am damn happy that I didn’t do the fire walk with my ex-husband — to me he wasn’t a man worth sharing my life with in the end…and now he is simply the man who I was married to who doesn’t pay child support. It would be a punishment to have to be attached to someone life after life when compatibility was poorly judged in this lifetime.
The sounds of an Indian wedding are also totally new and different for me. No harpist or Bach, no sounds of organ music or classic guitar. The music is energetic, upbeat and very alive. I think there was some music at the beginning but it was almost immediately drowned out by the lovely sounds of prayer by the priest (or at least I assume it was prayer). And then at “intermissions” those sounds were taken over by the bride’s best friend, who acted as maid of honour and participated in most of the wedding. She would loudly do that throaty-tongue lah-da-lah-da-lah-da thing (what for me I associate more to the sounds made by women in the middle east).
Then came the shell I couldn’t master! Periodically, the grandmother and the young girls would blow incredibly loudly into a conch shell held between their hands. The cute little girls tried to teach me to blow it but I just made an ass out of myself trying. It was fun though, and different.
One thing that was pretty confusing for me was the fact that the maid of honour, who was sat next to the bride most of the ceremony, carried on her own conversations and laughed with people around her during quite a lot of the ceremony. It was really distracting for me, although no one said anything to her so I’m not really clear if this was typical behaviour or not. For me, I would want my maid of honour to make the day about me and I’d assume that appropriate silence is part of that but I don’t think that things are quite the same here.
I had a wonderful time, and it was an amazing experience. It was a real treat to be out socializing for the first time with my favourite work mates, as well. I was so surprised that the women from work all looked absolutely STUNNING and so elegant in ornate saris and the guys just came over “as is” after work! No freshly pressed shirt, no washed face. Ahhh boys!! Do I blame them, though, or the wives for this? Maybe the wives need to ensure that their men dress properly because it appears it simply doesn’t happen automatically.
Oh, and the Prada shoes? Yeah, they fell victim to the Indian wedding unfortunately. At the end of the ceremony there was a tradition where the friends wouldn’t allow the bride and groom to pass back into the living room until they essentially “paid a toll” for lack of a better term. Everyone from the larger room where the ceremony was held all of a sudden packed into the hallway. Sadly, this is where all the shoes were lined up and people just stepped on, trampled or kicked aside shoes without thinking twice. Anyway, I know it wasn’t intentional but someone trampled my sweet Prada sling-backs and the leather ripped on one of the heels. They were so pretty… but c’est la vie!
NOTES: If I made any mistakes with the wedding details please do forgive me, I was busy enjoying myself and didn’t take notes!
Photo credit: C Khatri
Prada And Weddings Don’t Mix (Part 2)
My first experience of a Big Fat Indian Wedding comes to an end, but my shoes don't make it!
Click here to read part one.