Indian Wedding

Corey writes:

Yesterday Gina and I attended our first Indian wedding! We first got wind of a wedding in the works about a week ago, but we weren't really sure what was going on until Wednesday when our work friend came into the office and gave us an official invitation to her sister's wedding. Which was two days later. (India!) This was only the beginning of the differences between the Indian wedding and the American wedding.

We were both looking forward to experiencing an Indian wedding for two reasons:

1) Births, Deaths, and Weddings.

These are milestone events in any culture. These are where the oldest and strongest traditions are on display; no matter how homogenized our world culture is becoming, these traditions die hard. We got a taste of the death traditions last week, when our coworker's mother died. Gina and I showed up for work and there was only two people there. Everyone else was attending the cremation ceremony. Also, our coworker is required to stay in his house for 11 days to mourn. For anyone who wants to find our more about Hindu death rituals, click here.

So now we were going to get a taste of a less solemn tradition.

2) A chance to get all gussied up. I brought dress slacks, a tie, and dress shoes halfway around the world and I've worn them twice (including the wedding). Also, Gina wanted to go another round with that frustrating, impossible-to-pee-in, but beautiful outfit known as a sari.

I think we did pretty good, don't you? (One of our friends said I looked like Barack Obama. I don't even know what to say.)

The wedding was held at the Jagannath Temple here in K-put. However, when we asked what time the wedding started, our friend said "just come between 10am and 1pm". Mmmmmkaaay. We tried asking our other friends what time they were coming. They all gave times varying between noon and "lunchtime". (India!) So we decided to arrive at 12:30pm. We made our entrance as some festivities were getting started, so we picked out an elevated perch to watch. We were standing there for about 15 minutes when a fellow came up and asked us if we were there for our friend's sister's wedding. We said yep, and he informed us that we were watching the wrong wedding! (There were two at the temple at the same time).

We finally got to the right wedding, and Gina was escorted into the bride's waiting room while I was escorted into the groom's waiting room. On the way we saw the ceremonial platform where the bride's father and the groom's father and a priest were already deep into the wedding ceremony. (The whole thing lasts about 10 hours.)

I chatted with the groom for a while. He's a PhD student at the University of Mississippi, but he was born near Koraput. He came home to get married, and he'll be taking our friend's sister back to Mississippi with him. Before long, he was called out to the ceremony platform.

Gina and I hung around watching for a while and marveling at some of the differences of this wedding versus our own.

  1. Chaos. Everything outside of the 10' by 10' platform where the actual ceremony was taking place was pretty much chaos. Children were running around playing, people were chatting and laughing, talking on their mobiles. You could tell who the family members were that would be there for the whole thing: they were sitting down.
  2. People were walking around passing out water, tea, and snacks. I think more American wedding should have this. Kind of like the vendors at baseball games.
  3. It's bad manners for the bride to smile or act happy, because this ceremony means she's leaving her family to join her husband's family. She doesn't want to look like she's happy to leave her family.

While we're on the subject of the bride, here she is:

Here are her hands:

Here she is getting her crown. I think Gina was jealous she didn't have this at our wedding:

Here's our friend, Soumya, doing her part of the ceremony.

Soumya had to untie the couple's hands, but first she gets to demand something from the groom. I think she asked for a gold necklace, no kidding.

Around 1:30, lunch was served. The ceremony kept going. Gina and I stayed for a little longer to watch the fascinating proceedings, but finally packed it in around 3:00. All-in-all, our first Indian wedding didn't disappoint!

For those of you who want to find out more about Hindu wedding ceremonies, click here.

All photos courtesy of Anne Heslop.