Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Big Fat Indian Wedding!
Over 6000 (yes, I meant six thousand) guests, a dozen different rituals spread over a week, hundreds of out of town guests, choreographed dance performances and more! Move aside, Toula Portokalos. This is the real big, fat wedding.
We just returned from the wedding of Mona's niece, Shivangi, in Anand (Gujarat) and what a wedding it was. I had been wanting to attend a family wedding since we arrived in India over four years ago and we got an opportunity to do so last week. It was a unique and memorable experience for all of us.
Weddings are huge family affairs in Gujarat and this one was no exception. I met several of Mona's cousins and their families for the first time ever. But it seemed like we have all known each other for decades. The incredible warmth and the hospitality by all was overwhelming. We had a really good time getting to know each other and became really close during the days we spent together. This is a real boisterous and fun-loving family. The very first evening, we got together for what turned out to be a talent show. Everybody's (including mine) hidden singing talents were discovered that night.
The other fascinating aspect of the wedding were the number of interesting rituals that took place. These rituals are full of detailed tasks assigned to people with specific relationships to the bride and the groom. I couldn't imagine how somebody could remember all the details. But strange as some of the rituals seemed, all of them had a meaning and purpose.
There is lot of singing and dancing at a Gujarati wedding. These range from traditional Gujarati folk music and tribal dances to modern bollywood music and Bhangra! The bride and the groom along with a few dozen of their close family members also performed choreographed dance numbers during one of the events.
The other striking thing about this wedding was the medley of colorful outfits that everyone was wearing. The women looked stunning in their bright and colorful dresses while the men sported a combination of traditional suits to ethnic men's wear. All of us got into the spirit and were well equipped with special outfits that we had bought for the event. Ayaana probably had the best time of all as she really got into it and went all out to get dressed up and made up - all of 14 going on 18!
It was four days of unbridled fun and excitement. I can't wait for the next one!