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Indian Weddings

November 5, 2010

There is always some drama involved. The bride has a tantrum. Or the bride’s family has a tantrum. The groom’s family is upset. The latter happens loudly, while the former happens in the confines of a little, overcrowded room. Aunties are jammed into the little room, which generally smells of jasmine, talcum powder and stale sweat.

Perhaps the absence of all that was what made this wedding a pleasant surprise. There were no loud fights or noises. Soothing instrumental music was in the background and the gentle murmur of conversation. The green room had the smell of jasmine but nothing else. And it was also curiously empty of nosy aunts.

I found the nosy aunts elsewhere, but that is a topic for another day.

Every time now I see a traditional Indian bride, a part of me smiles. I am still not sure if that is the way I want to be married… from long experience I have learnt that such a day is everyone else’s but yours. But when I see the bride, dressed in vivid colours, sitting in front of the fire, I discover unknown cords in my heart that tug me towards that canopy.

I do not have a ‘favorite’ moment in an Indian wedding. There is generally too much chaos to ever have paid attention to the entire ceremony. What I generally see is a couple too tired to stand on their feet, just getting through the ceremony. But watching my friend finish the ceremony and walk down, I wonder if there is a curious relief in the heart that says “we are married” or “he is now mine”. Do you get that thought in your head as the sacred thread’s knotted around your neck or is it a feeling of panic?

If I had to pick a particular moment… it would be the Saptapadi. It exists in most Indian weddings, regardless of the caste. The 7 steps where the groom promises to cherish the bride forever.

But the moment I enjoy the most – the happy couple tucking into the meal – the first they share together. And the first moment of commonness they have… they might’ve hated the ceremony or loved it, they might be relieved or panicked earlier. But this one emotion – Food! Finally! – yup. There you have the common ground.

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