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Archive for January, 2009

W for Wedding

And here I am, finally, talking about big-fat-incredible Indian weddings.

Ever since I moved here, I have been desperate for an invitation to a Indian wedding. It hasn’t happened yet.

During wedding season, Delhi roads were constantly congested with cars driving to wedding venues, party marquees popped up everywhere just like mushrooms, and music and fireworks went on till late at night. Yet, I somehow managed to knew only the few people in town who were NOT going to get married this season.

Having no other choice, I crashed a couple wedding.

Fully equipped with saari, camera and smile, I went to one of those huge party hoping none would have found the presence of a blond-fair-foreigner girl too weird. Luckily enough, none did.

Indian wedding are exactly as huge as you would imagine. No, they actually manage to be bigger.

In one I’ve been to there were – I am not exaggerating –  at least fifty different dishes of Indian (North, South, Veg, Non-veg), Chinese, Continental and Asian cuisine, not to speak about the desserts. There must have been three, maybe four hundreds people there, and everyone kept saying that it was not a big wedding. Flowers were in such insane quantities that I have seen guests walking away with full bouquet in their hands (they’d wither, such a waste!).

Women were wearing insane jewelery, so beautiful and precious that I couldn’t stop staring at them and thinking, more than a little shocked, that those stones were all real.

And in all this circus of colors, silks, flowers, diamonds, gold, henna tattoos, music, lights, fireworks and riding horses, what’s surprising is that during an Indian wedding none really pays attention to the bride and the groom.

They stand almost by themselves, under some canopy, taking care of the myriads of different rites they are supposed to go through before they can call teach other husband a wives. Everybody else somewhere else, too busy chatting, eating, mingling, drinking, gossiping to pay attention to the rituals. Seriously.

At one of the weddings I ended up being the only person (aside from the happy mothers-in-law) standing in front of the groom-and-bride to-be while they were performing the knotting ceremony (please don’t ask me what it is). I watched them for quite a while, and of course they both knew I was not invited to their wedding and they had never seen my face before, but they didn’t ask me to leave. And I took the risk of being kicked out because I felt a bit sorry for them: you should be the attraction on your wedding day, and you deserve at least a complete stranger standing in front of you while you perform the mysterious rituals.

So yeah, what I discovered about Indian weddings is that they really are not about the couple. Which coming to think of it makes sense, because to begin with they are not supposed to be about love, or romance, or passion. Marriages here should be about joining two families, and that’s absolutely reflected in the (several) receptions. A weddings is an occasion, THE occasion for families to show off, and you can be sure they’ll do it as best they can. They will happily spend every rupee they can on the party (or rather parties), which will be huge, and last much beyond exhaustion.

So my suggestion is: if you are in India during wedding season, wrap all your good wishes and crash a reception (possibly one where people dance a lot!). Everybody is welcome to an Indian wedding. Everybody, including blond Italian girls, clumsily wrapped in silk saaris, who end up spending all their time right next to the buffet table, when they are not staring at the newlyweds.

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