Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cultural Confusion: An Indian Wedding In A Country of Paradox


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Slumdog Millionaire, was a chilling introduction to this country of paradoxes. I found the film lacked so much depth in Vikas Swarup's story, it seemed simple. Not to mention it is common knowledge in India that the slumdog actors were really from the slums, paid so poorly they could barely afford outfits for the Oscars, and returned to the slums once their roles were complete. After reading Millionaire, my India: Cultural Preparation Guide and Aravind’s White Tiger, a servant’s narration of life in India, I wrongly assumed I was prepared for the days to come.

Five of my days centered around the wedding, which was a continual series of events, all of which were 1 to 4 hours late. Yes, you read correctly, HOURS late. Imagine the frustration as I tried to attend all events, sight-see my Dad’s hometown, and plan for the short 15 days I had available to me. “Nothing is impossible; this is India”, they will all tell you with a huge grin on their faces. “That is one word that doesn’t exist here”. To be fair, things got done...in a haphazard, frantic, tiresome, crazy manner, but yes, they got done. From the hectic markets with amazing goods to the whirlwind city tours, things get done.

Check out the slideshow below of a traditional Indian ceremony. You might want to set the slideshow slider to 1 second; there's a lot of pictures! Facebook users, please click to my original post link to see the real blog:

Here’s a brief breakdown of what is going on:

Ceremony 1: Sunday, February 15, 2009 A prayer and dancing celebration Location: A giant, white, outdoor tent. Time: 3 hours late. The Mendi ceremony and dinner party were part of this

Ceremony 2: Monday, February 16, 2009 10:30 AM: Chanth Only half an hour late Prayer ceremony, boy’s side, with yellow paint smeared all over the groom!

Ceremony 3: Monday, February 16, 2009: 12 noon Chura: Girl’s bracelet ceremony. Both the boy and the girl have a “little helper”, kind of like a flower girl or ringbearer, to guide them through the wedding preparation process. Songs, dance, and a really long prayer and bracelet ceremony

Ceremony 4: 12 noon, boy's side: Chapani Tora Breaking the pot ceremony, followed by lunch

Ceremony 5: 2 PM: Hand painting the walls, really random, not on the itinerary...

Ceremony 5: 8 PM: 2 hours late Bharat: The horse ceremony, with a pit stop at the temple. Also a ceremony in between where girls tie ribbons into the horse's hair

Ceremony 6: Dinner, at the hotel where the horse stopped. Milne (garland ceremony) where the families meet each other and exchange garlands

Ceremony 7: Jaymalah(Confetti ceremony)

Ceremony 8: Tuesday, February 17, 2009: Time: 3 AM, 2 hours late: Langafere The 7 Wedding vows and Ceremonial walk around the fire

Ceremony 9: 6 AM Hidden shoes ceremony. The girl's side hides all the boys shoes and makes them negotiate a price to get them back! This takes about an hour of high pitched arguments.

Ceremony 10: Tuesday, February 17, 2009: 7 AM: Drive away singing ceremony. Married couple drives away in a car, money is thrown around, and beggars run to grab the money.

Cermony 11: Tuesday, February 17, 2009: 12 NOON: Mou Dakai Gifts and money ceremony



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Karnal & Panipat, Dad's hometown, Province of Haryana, India

Between hours and hours of wait time and indecision, my dad took me on a tour of his hometown, from his elementary school, to the local park, to the rickshaw ride, to the milk factory that sold icecream, it was quite the simple place. Even Panipat, where my dad's brother lives, was a simple, simple, town...but it is the best place to buy carpets in India , and added great style to my living room! (Thanks, Gunjun for showing me around the best places!)

I have to say it touched my heart to see the gigantic smile on the old rickshaw driver's face when he charged us 20 rupees (less than a dollar, and twice as much as he should have) for the ride, and we gave him 100 rupees (about $2.50). Four days of stressful, ridiculously expensive wedding ceremonies, and too much food and all it took was two dollars and fifty cents to make a local man smile as if he'd won the lottery.

1 comment:

Rishi said...

Haha "yellow paint"