Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Indian Wedding Celebrations!

Rohit and I during the wedding ceremony

The reason for my trip to India was to attend the wedding of my friend Rohit to his beautiful bride Priyanka. I'd never met Priyanka before, but then Rohit had only seen her twice. This was an (almost) classic arranged marriage.

We were made incredibly welcome, having been invited to three different ceremonies over four days. Lots of the other guests showed us incredible kindness. Explaining what was going on during the ceremonies or recommending the best food to eat. There were a few requests for photos with the comedy Whities wearing Indian clothing. We definitely stuck out!

I'm planning a blog post on the wedding food. Here I'll concentrate on the ceremonies themselves.

All of the ceremonies were pretty long, but that didn't mean you had to sit through them. Chatting, getting up to walk around, drinking and eating seemed to be as acceptable as watching attentively. They were well attended too, with four hundred people coming to the reception during the evening.

Dressed and ready to go at the Teeka

The first event we attended was the Teeka hosted in the bride's city of Bareilly. It's an event where the brides extended family are introduced to the groom. Once all the introductions to the groom were made, the two families met each other. Grandfathers meeting grandfathers, uncles meeting uncles etc... Myself, mum, sister and friend Julia were all included into the ceremony.

I was introduced to Priyanka's father. Given a marking of paprika, garland of flowers, a coconut, money and drink of mango juice. All from a man that is a Colonel in the Indian Army and I found quite scary!

Mum and I with Priyanka's beautiful sister

The next day we attended the Wedding itself. I was a bit lost as to what was happening during the first half of the evening. I think it was the reverse of the Teeka with the groom's family being introduced to the bride.

Priyanka and Rohit taking their vows

After a dress change the bride and groom sat round a fire with the priest for the traditional part of the marriage ceremony. They took vows, were tied together and circled the round the fire seven times. As the whole ceremony took place in Hindi I'm not sure what vows were said. We were told stories of weddings being annulled because couples hadn't circled the fire seven times, so the loops were counted carefully!

Mum and I at the reception in Delhi

We had a day off after the wedding to travel 250km to Delhi for the Reception hosted by the groom's family. Western dress was encouraged and although it had been fun wearing a kurta at the first two events I felt a bit more natural in my suit.

There appeared to be no formal ceremonial element to the evening. The bridge and groom spent their evening on a guilded sofa where the guests went up to greet them and give presents. We spent most of the time sitting around and feasting.

Overall the events were a lot freer and less structured than a western wedding where everyone listens attentively in church and then eats the wedding breakfast at the same time. I felt a bit sorry for the bride and groom who were constantly bound to their ceremonial duties or seated on a throne greeting guests. They didn't get to let their hair down, mingle with the crowds or even eat at and of the three events!

I was hoping to see mass bhangra dancing which alas didn't happen. However, overall they were three fantastic experiences and a real once in a lifetime opportunity.

5 comments:

  1. Wow what a great experience!

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  2. "Priyanka's beautiful sister"

    She doesn't look quite old enough for marriage. When she is, will you forward my CV to her parents?

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  3. I'll put you in touch BE. Unless I decide to send in my own CV!

    I did find Colonel Dave quite frightening. Not sure I could sign up to that!

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  4. Indian weddings are truly amazing and traditional. there are so many fantastic and stunning indian wedding traditions that will truly make you want to know more about Indian culture. that's what exactly Indian culture did to me.

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