“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
Attending an Indian marriage gave me an insight into just how different cultures can be. The day of the ceremony itself was filled with food (served from buckets as everyone ate rice, mutton, and dal with their hands) and Indian music and dancing. From the outside it looked like a pretty simple affair, until I learned the details about marriage in India, which confirmed what I already knew… I will never marry an Indian man!
Like many marriages still today, this one was arranged. For me, having grown up in a culture that only supports “love” marriages, the idea is hard to grasp. How it works is a relative of both families will go check out the potential future in-law, and if the father says yes, then the marriage process starts rolling. Keep in mind that at this time, when the engagement is announced, the two people have never actually met. From there an engagement lasts years, in which time the couple will talk on the phone and occasionally visit each other. It doesn’t really matter what they think of the other at this point since, no matter what, they will be married. Then, the part I found most intriguing (and different) is that the day of the marriage itself is in some ways torture for the bride.
The bride spends the day before the marriage getting ready (notice the extensive make up and headdress that is always present), and saying goodbye to her family. Up until this point she has always lived with her parents, and in all likelihood, has never spent a single day away from her mom. Now though, she will move into the grooms parents house, leaving behind her family to live with a man (and in-laws) she probably doesn’t know all that well. Her parents aren’t even allowed to attend the marriage! When the bride arrives at the party, which has already been in full swing for hours, she is pulled in by a rope (it’s symbolic, but makes it look like she is being pulled in against her will) and is brought over to where the three or four hour long ceremony will take place. The groom on the other hand walks in happily with his friends. He is not leaving behind his family as he will continue to live with his parents, so there is no reason for him to be sad.
Then there is a long ceremony, which involves lots of chanting and inscents. Only a few people actually watch this part, most are still dancing and eating.
The whole thing takes place at night (unfortunately this means no good photos), and lasts through the night and into the morning as after the ceremony, the newly weds get to change clothes, eat, and dance with their guests. The bride then moves into the new house, and a week later there is a reception party (which I also happened to attend for a different couple).
It was fun attending the marriage, where I mostly watched, but also did a bit of Indian dancing myself. It was completely different than a marriage back home, absolutely everything about it, which is what made it a great.
Here are a few pictures from getting ready for the marriage.