India is known for many things – delicious food, colourful festivals, Bollywood and last, but not the least – spectacular weddings! Stereotypically, most Indian weddings have been portrayed in the west as a never-ending event with people dancing with the groom on a horse, lots and lots of food and more dancing! Does this really happen at weddings? Yes and No! India is extremely diverse with each of its 29 states having its unique traditions and customs. Furthermore, we have several ethnicities and communities within our to further complicate it. However, some things are common in all of the weddings – Dancing, lots of food and a 1000 or more extra guests! Everybody is welcome to attend an Indian wedding, with or without a formal invitation.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a wonderful south-Indian wedding in the city of Hyderabad, India – and the icing on the cake? It was my best friend’s wedding!
Her wedding was a 4-day event – an arranged marriage, as is the custom for many Indian families.
On the first day, was the ‘Haldi’ (turmeric) ceremony. While the rest of the world has just recently discovered turmeric as a ‘miracle-spice’, it has been used in India for centuries – in curries, as antiseptics and, in cosmetics. To continue the tradition of turmeric as a beauty spice, the bride was covered in turmeric, which was applied by her family and friends. She sat there for a couple of hours while we all went up to her, one after the other, to add more turmeric to her face and arms. Turmeric is supposed to bring out the glow in your skin. And who doesn’t want to look their best on their special day?
Also, during this period, the bride and the groom were not allowed to meet each other!
Day 2 was ‘Mehendi’ ceremony. Mehendi is commonly known as Henna across the world and yes, it is all about applying mehendi on the bride’s hands and sometimes legs! In some cases, the groom gets it too! Pro tip: spraying lemon juice on mehendi helps darken the tint.
There were 2 events on the 3rd day. The engagement – yes, in many arranged marriages, the engagement is planned and can happen any day before the wedding! And ‘Sangeet’ – music! This is when we all dance for the bride and groom and in-return, they dance for us. We had a choreographer to help us with our performance! I danced for an English as well as a Tamil song for the event. Tamil songs, or as we lovingly call them, ‘Kollywood songs’ from the state of Tamil Nadu, usually have fast beats and are very catchy and the perfect songs for any sangeet! To summarize, it was a crazy night with people dancing, singing, getting drunk and having fun!
The grand Indian wedding was on the fourth day inside a magnificent hall, with an enormous chain of food stalls serving food ranging from North Indian, South Indian, to Mongolian cuisine! The food was delicious, and honestly, at every Indian wedding, guests are present mainly for the food! My best friend and her hubby barely got a chance to take a break from all the holy rituals that had to performed which had continued until the morning after. Overall, all of us friends had a blast at this wedding! It is always the friends who enjoy the most at any wedding. And there is something incredibly special about your best friend getting married. Unfortunately for the bride and groom though, these are usually some of the most stressful and tiring few days of their lives – but hey, what goes around, comes around, right?
Grishma is a young Indian girl living in Germany, who is studying sustainability. She is an engineer, a full-time pop-culture enthusiast, part-time fitness enthusiast and a first-time blogger!