Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monsoon Wedding, Part 1

The wedding was 2 days long. The first day, there was a brunch at noon (which started at 1pm, of course) at which I met the bride's cousins, from Chicago and Australia. They were fresh off the plane and very enthusiastic.

At 4pm (5pm), there was the Chak & Mamera, a ceremony on the rooftop which involved, as far as I could tell, all the women at the wedding walking around the rooftop in a circle, then sitting on mats in one area (the men were on chairs, watching or chatting).

Then some of the women put brightly decorated pots on their heads, there was some drumming and dancing, and everyone walked around the rooftop again (except the women who were getting tired or bored).

At one point, I sat on a plastic chair near the grandmother, because no one else was there and it was a good location to take photos. Three nearly identical women came and sat in the chairs around me. I tried to stand to give them my seat, but they were having none of it. They held my arm to keep me in the chairs with them. We had a nice talk with limited vocabulary and lots of smiling. They are the sisters of the father of the groom, and by the end of the ceremony, we were best friends.

After the ceremony we ate almonds and yogurt, and drank chai. Then everyone headed over in cars to another hotel. There, there was a long tented entrance hallway, opening onto a huge area that contained a stage with seating facing the stage, as well as dining tables in a non-covered area. Surrounding the dining area, there were many buffet stations featuring countless food options. As we sat at the tables, four or five waiters hovered three feet away, and every two minutes or so, approached to offer this or that. I had no idea what they were offering, sinceit was all in Hindi. One waiter apparently thought I spoke Hindi (maybe my nodding was a little too convincing) and kept coming up and offering long lists of things. I tried to explain that I didn't understand, but it was futile. So I started nodding to everything, and got tray after tray of tiny plastic bowls filled with various spicy and sweet foods. Everything was delicious.

Eventually we moved over to the stage area, where family members performed dances from Bollywood movies for the couple.
Most of the performers were young children, who were surprisingly brave and very focused on their dance moves. There were also some adults who performed.

The bride performed an outstanding dance, all the more impressive for doing it the incredibly heavy, jewel-laden and gorgeous sari she was wearing at the time.

After that was stick dancing, were everyone takes 2 sticks on the dance floor, and 2 people bang their sticks together in slow rhythm. Totally confusing, but fun.

Then there was just raucous dancing. Bollywood songs, Bhangra and remixed Shakira played while everyone, young and old, filled the dance floor until the party was over.

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