Indian Hindu Wedding
16 Jul 2008
This was your typical Indian wedding, and it had to be one of the most amazingly beautiful events I have ever attended. Everything these people did was with purpose and symbolic meaning, from the henna party 3 days in advance, to the Garba event the day before. Offerings to Gods, to parents, paying respects...It started with the henna party which was an event for the bride and her family/friends. There was music, dancing and a woman doing henna on their hands with amazing skill and design. The people were the most fun I had been around in a while, the bride insisted I sit with her for dinner and I was given a henna tattoo. I couldn't wait for the next day's event, the Garba.
Raas Garba, July 4th 2008
The Garba started early, and I honetly wasn't sure what to expect. The location was a large reception hall, and there must have been at least 200 people there. The women all came in their traditional sari, the men dressed traditionally as well. There was a ceremony with a Hindu priest, which lasted for at least an hour, where the close family sat on a small stage and chanted, made offerings to a God and performed a varitey of religious rituals. The groom was eventually brought up and they painted a mustard paste on him, to make his skin fair for the wedding. The second part of the day was a huge party, which started by a drummer leading a group of women around the outside of the hall, all of them carrying a cone shaped colorful object on their head. When they circled the building, they stopped to dance and recieve a bindi, made from a red powder. When everyone filtered back inside, the Raas Garba began this time with intense circular dancing, very high energy including the young and old all together...beautiful. They did one dance with sticks, in this intricate rythm of tapping spinning and travelling around the room. It got so fast at times that if one were to slip up and miss a beat it seemed like the whole room of hundreds could fall apart in a domino affect. The night ended with a feast of delicious Indian food, mostly vegetarian and always interesting. I can't think of a better way to celebrate our country's indepence day than in a culturally rich evironment filled with people loving life to the fullest.
The Wedding, July 5th 2008.
I met with the bride in the morning and she was a little tense but in good spirits. Her mother was busy ironing while the other women were busy fussing over their hair, make-up and details for the day. While the girls were getting ready, the groom was outside getting ready for another event, some sort of pre-wedding celebration. There was a mass of people dancing to the beat of a single drummer, and lots of attention being paid to the groom...women sprinkling things over his head, shaking loud rattles around him almost constantly, adorning him with flower necklaces, a hat, special treats....all before he got into a horse drawn carriage and was paraded around the building with more high energy dancing and chanting from the crowd. The bride and groom were brought into the ceremony hall where the wedding ceremony began. The ceremony was similar to the ceremony that took place on the day of the Garba, and lasted almost two hours. So much was happening, never a dull moment. There was no kiss at the end, as kissing in front of family is seen as taboo. The guests (all several hundred of them) lined up to pay their respects to the couple, with the bride and groom always reaching down to touch the guest's feet, and then their own heart, before hugging the guest. I never had to say "smile!" to any of these people. The expression of happiness and joy was just there, so real and natural. The day continued on...into the night, filled with fun and exciting little dances and ceremonies.
I will do everything I can to experience this again, and again...there is so much culture here in our own backyard, and the people are more than happy to share these moments with you. Someday I will have the chance to travel (after I raise my 3 kids) but for now I will let the world bring themselves to me...and just about every corner of the world is represented here in the USA somewhere, you just have to open your eyes.