Monday, September 12, 2011

My First Indian Wedding

The wedding actually happened ages ago, but I haven't had a chance to write about it. It was my friend Nut's host mom's cousin's daughter's wedding. She generously invited all of the AFS students so that we could experience an Indian wedding!

The morning of the wedding, I got suitably dressed up (maybe a little too dressed up for my taste, but this is India...) I was getting a ride with Tenaya (exchange student from Seattle) and her host siblings, since we live very close to each other. The funny thing was that her host sister thought she knew where we were going, but when we walked into the wedding hall, we soon realized that we were at the wrong wedding! Luckily, no one really noticed. The wedding ceremony is very long, so while it is taking place, everyone besides the immediate family and friends just sit or stand around and talk. Tenaya's host brother said it's not a big deal to walk into a random wedding, but it looks very rude to walk out. As you can see, that caused us something of a dilemma, since we were already late for the other wedding. Eventually we just explained the situation to the guard at the door and tried to leave without anyone noticing.

When we arrived at the right wedding, the ceremony was taking place on a stage at the back of a long room. Our friends and Nut's family were up on the stage already. As we were taking our shoes off at the edge of the stage, about to go up the steps to greet everyone, we started wondering why there was a guy pointing a huge video camera at us. Just as Tenaya and I started to discuss this, we looked behind us to see the bride and her procession about to come up the stairs! We dashed out of the way, trying to look inconspicuous pressed against the wall, and hoping that no one would notice anything funny in the wedding video...

The wedding was very interesting. It was a love marriage and the groom was from another state called Kerala (pronounced Care-la). The bride was from here in Tamil Nadu. In the U.S., it is normally assumed that a marriage will be a love marriage, unless the family has roots in another culture where arranged marriages are practiced. Here, (or at least in this part of India), love marriages are specifically identified as such. Only a few of my friends parents have had love marriages. If someone mentions a love marriage, everyone wants to know how they met. My friend Lavanya is half Australian, and to say that she is tired of telling the story of how her parents met would be a huge understatement.

Indian weddings are very elaborate and there are many rituals involved. The days before the actual wedding are also filled with ceremonies, such as the Henna ceremony, where everyone gets fancy henna designs on their hands and feet and dances. The wedding takes places in the morning, and the reception takes place that night. The reception is basically where the couple takes pictures with all the guests and receives presents, and everyone eats.

Marriages differ a lot from one part of India to another. At this wedding, traditions from Kerala and Tamil Nadu were woven together. We got to try food from Kerala. I noticed that almost every single dish was made with coconut, which was fun, since I love coconut! I asked my friend Shruty about it at school since her mom is Malyalam (a Malyalam is someone from Kerala) and she told me that Kerala is famous for coconut.

All in all the wedding was a lot of fun! Sorry for the late report!

I've been meaning to mention, because I wrote about Anjali (the maid close to my age) earlier on my blog, that she is no longer working for my family. She is getting married in a few months.