The opportunity to be part of a wedding in India was a high point for us. The wedding events in India eclipsed the sightseeing in India for me. Becoming part of the culture for three straight days in the wedding extravaganza will be an indelible visual memory for us; one that we are still visually and auditorily processing! The events included: Haldi, Mehndi, Sangeet, water ritual and Baraat. The music at the Haldi breakfast started my Indian wedding experience off in a joyful, musical way.
Mehndi, at lunchtime, was a whirlwind of activities: henna decorations, bangle making, a palm reader, performance artists, signature drink cocktails and buffet, a hair salon, the bride and groom entering in a decorated bicycle buggy encrusted with flowers and lots of dancing!—all started off with a camel ride outside!
……I looked up some video and content on these rituals before I went to the wedding but I’m glad that I didn’t over research it like I usually do because it was more visually exciting to not know what to expect as I entered these incredibly joyful events! As someone who usually over researches a country and studying it with my sons before a trip, I recommend sometimes not doing that.
This particular trip was one of those times that I left it up to be surprised; partly because I wasn’t traveling with my whole family (just my oldest son) and partly because our schedules did not allow this pre-planning. My 19 year old son was excited to see India for musical inspiration (as India did for the Beatles’ White Album). My pre-planning for this trip consisted of a itinerary planned out with my travel agent and sister-in-law, ordering Indian costumes to wear (and learning all about the different kinds and styles) and rehearsing a dance we had to perform for the bride and groom at the Sangeet. I also prepared for this trip with increased yoga and mediation practice and consuming more turmeric and curry to get into the spirit of things. I discovered a “turmeric juice cleanse”. Turmeric “Juice” Cleanse:
- Juice of 1 lemon and pinch of honey
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne (boosts metabolism)
- 1 1/2 cups water
Sangeet :This event featured traditional dances presented to the bride and groom by various groups of family and friends. We presented our choreographed dance on an amphitheatre stage with lasers and lights. I was so mesmerized by the performances, that I didn’t want to take my eyes off of the stage for a minute to take pictures. My son wore a Kurta Pajama and I wore an Anarkali.
Water ritual: On the morning of the final day was a casual event. When you arrived to breakfast, you were given a white kurta to wear with your leggings. The people who joined in grabbed buckets and water guns and filled them up with the nearby pool water and SPLASHED each other —all set to music. People clutched each other to make each other wet which I interpreted to be a bonding gesture. (much like the turmeric body polishing ritual). The Baraat: the bridegroom’s wedding procession (on an elephant or horse) accompanied by bands, dancers and sometimes fireworks as it reaches the meeting point between the two families. The groom is given the marigold garland (like a lei) as are some of the family members.
photos by Gina Kingsley