One of the things on my list of things I wanted to do in India was attend an Indian wedding. When I set off for India I had no idea how I was going to make this happen. I’d read a few blogs and most people were saying it was perfectly acceptable to just crash a wedding when you’re in India, so this was my original plan… When we were on our Intrepid tour, Parik (the best tour leader of all time) mentioned that his brother was getting married. I didn’t know when and I didn’t know where but I immediately asked if we could come… He said yes! I had to check with him a few more time but it sounded like we’d scored ourselves an invite to an Indian wedding! Mission accomplished! Maybe we werent quite Indian wedding crashers, but close enough. The wedding would take place on the 18th of March, starting in Delhi at Parik’s families house and then on to Saharanpur, the brides home village and where the actual marriage would be taking place.
The first thing you need to do when attending an Indian wedding is get an outfit, I was probably most excited about this part! Luckily we had Parik and his wife to help us out in that department because I had no idea where to start when it came to purchasing a saree. We hit the markets and Ryan and I got ourselves hooked up with outfits to wear to the first ceremony in Delhi and then outfits for the wedding in Saharanpur.
Our first stop for the wedding was Parik’s families house in Delhi, an Indian wedding comprises of a number of different events that usually happen at different locations, I’ve heard Indian weddings can be a week long celebration! We were warmly welcomed into their home where the groom would be undergoing the turmeric ceremony. The groom is bathed in turmeric paste to cleanse the skin and prepare him for his marriage. All guests participate in the ceremony by brushing turmeric onto the groom, at the end, he was completely soaked in it.
Following this ceremony the groom will usually ride a horse to the wedding venue. Since the wedding was being held over 6 hours away, riding the horse was purely for symbolic purposes and he didn’t go any further than the local temple.
After this we piled into a car with some of the family and started the long drive to the wedding venue. We were definitely a bit spoilt, we got to ride in one of the air conditioned cars while most of the extended family had to ride in a hot bus. Like I said we were made to feel very welcome! We arrived some many hours later, we did get a little lost along the way! When we walked into the venue Ryan and I were blown away, it was huge and felt kind of like a carnival, they’d transformed half of the village into the wedding venue. We were told that this wasn’t even big compared to some weddings but I was definitely impressed! Not long after our arrival a hail storm struck, we all ran to find shelter and the wedding venue took quite a battering. We spent the next few hours getting ready and by then they’d managed to repair the damage done by the hail.
Getting ready in my saree was one of my favorite parts. There were lots of lovely ladies who helped me out and fixed my saree and then fixed it again so I would look nothing less than perfect! I then met back up with Ryan who was looking very dapper in his Kurta Pyjama suit. By this point it was nearing I’d say about 11pm, we’d been warned Indian weddings went late but this was crazy and the wedding hadn’t even started yet! The groom was in another ceremony with the men of the bride’s family so we took some time to muck round and take photos because when else are we going to get to dress like this!?
We then started the grooms entrance, everyone from the grooms family, Ryan and I included, escorted him on his horse to the entrance of the venue. This took probably an hour of dancing and loud music and lots and lots of fun. When we got to the entrance the brides sisters were waiting and we had to bargain with them before they would let us in. I believe a fair amount of money was exchanged and we were finally granted entrance, this is something that happens at Indian weddings and it’s all part of the fun.
The groom then went up onto a stage to wait for his bride. She definitely kept him waiting, from my vague memory of the time line (exhaustion had set in and all the times get a bit fuzzy) it was well after midnight when the bride made her entrance. She was absolutely beautiful!
At this point in the night the bride and groom take photos with everyone… and I mean everyone, in every possible combination… this takes a long time! Following this they sit to have dinner together and then they proceed to have professional photos taken of just the two of them. After this there’s a bit of a break and then the groom sits down with priest’s from both the brides and grooms sides for another ceremony. Eventually the bride joins him and this is when the actual marriage takes place. There is a fire ceremony and vowels and promises are made and then they are married!! I should mention that it was about 4 30 am when the marriage was finally official. This was probably one of the most exhausting days of my life but I’m so glad I got to experience it!
By this point we were so over exhausted it wasn’t even worth sleeping. We had a taxi booked for 6 am so we waited around a little longer, said our goodbyes to everyone and headed off… Next destination Rishikesh!