22 November, 2011

A South Indian Wedding...

"Marwage is what bwings us togever today..." ~The Princess Bride

Last Friday night I witnessed my first Indian Wedding, a Hindu South Indian wedding (this one was Telugu). Indian weddings generally start at night and continue late into the night. This wedding went until about midnight, but it's common for weddings to go until the wee hours of the morning.

I tried several new foods at the wedding, I don't remember most of the names, but I really enjoyed the curry and roti served at the wedding, very good. Then there was some sort of curd, what I think was a paneer snack, rice, fruit, and sweets. An after dinner food was called 'killy' or also goes by the name 'paan'. It was a sort of crystalized sugar sweet bits wrapped in a leaf, and you actually eat the leaf! It was pretty good, it's sort of like a mouth freshener.

It was a nice wedding, and the explanations of the process helped to understand what was going on. Every part of the ceremony has a set process, with meaning and symbolism behind it. First there was the pooja, and about an hour after that the bride arrived. What surprised me right away is that throughout the entire ceremony, people were filtering in and out, staying as they chose to watch, eating when they chose, and even allowed to go up on the stage and see up close. This was very different from an American wedding where there's the ceremony that people sit quietly through (usually in a church), then afterwards have a reception with food, music, and dancing.

Live music was playing during the ceremony at intervals. 

 View of stage. Flowers are used everywhere in decorations in India, as in the stage decor here.

Bride and groom. Bride is in a sari, groom is in sherwani, which I have been told is the 'latest trend' for men to wear this garment. The bride here is in her first sari. In some castes, it is common practice for the bride to change saris during the ceremony. Both bride and groom have henna as well.

Bride and groom with the priest (there is a different name though that the priest is called). The priest will be speaking in sanskrit in parts, which people don't really understand the language. Bride is now in her second sari, a gift of the groom's parents.

Pooja offering. 

In America, we have the expression 'tie the knot' which is merely a figure of speech meaning to get married. However, in India there is an actual part of the ceremony where the man ties the knot of a string necklace around the woman's neck. When I first heard about the literal tying the knot part of the ceremony, I thought it was both the man and woman that tied the knot, but it's actually only the man, so that was really shocking to me that there are parts of the ceremony that only the man does when the couple marries. 

This part of the ceremony was pretty fun. The bride and groom took turns pouring the flowers and rice on each other's heads, and soon there are flower petals everywhere. This action symbolizes the couple's new freedom and relationship with each other. 

This is the last part of the ceremony, in which the bride and groom point at a star in the sky and it's supposed to symbolize two stars that are now together as one I believe, that the couple is now joined.

And that's the wedding!


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