For a European reader a wedding across two cities is no short of a miracle – but in the Sub-continent, we relish in weddings. Our weddings span a standard three days – a day for dancing, a day for the religious mandate “Nikah” and sending off the bride, a day to welcome all guests and celebrate the union once more.
Now, our weddings have so many more “parties” as part of the wedding! And IF the bride & groom happen to live in two cities – you must keep stock of 3 days free in the calendar and three more to get over the fatigue! It has begun to be less of an event and more of a festival.
We are a very elaborate culture – we love dressing up & eating. Both things are the two pivots on which our weddings stand. Food has to be perfect – varied and delicious! Our brides are decked and dolled up for each day with finery and riches – many times beyond the affordability of the family! The groom, however, gets eclipsed in this regard.
Let me take you on a trip to a wedding across two cities – almost 400km apart!
The first day “Mehndi” where we dance and eat and eat and play with hena happens in the two cities separately. You cannot make daily trips of 800 km! The evening starts – music blares across the huge halls. The bass must be as high as the speakers can take it. The songs have to be the A-list – approved by the bride and groom. The DJ simply cannot mess up the sequence! Enter the glittering bride and dazzling groom with a bunch of dancing friends and family. They make a stunning entrance and woe to the DJ if he misses THAT particular song! The families and friends eat the fried bread, spicy gravies, and dense desserts! And one more important thing – pictures. Every family member, friend, and guest should have a picture taken with the bride & groom! The festivities seep into the wee hours of the night.
Early morning wakes up the tired guests who are served with elaborate breakfasts before they dress up half way and pile into coaches & buses hired by the groom’s family to bring the bride home from across the 400km. The trip lasts a good 5 hours – after which everyone freshens up at the hotel hosted by the bride’s family. The bride is escorted to the stage adorned by the groom & his first family. She has chosen the song, so everyone should pay attention to the meanings. A series of pictures with the in-laws and family take up goof three hours or so. The bride and groom melt into the unknown for a memorable photo shoot that is speedily concluded because the groom and his guests have to depart back to their city the very same day. The day ends in the morning after a total of 800 km of travel in a day!
The exhausted family of the bride gets ready for their turn for the travel the very next morning. This time, their guests pile in the coaches & buses to make the journey. The bride – now a zombie with fatigue heads off to the salon for her dressing up! All this while the groom’s bone-tired family makes the last-minute arrangement to host the guests. The evening falls into a twilight and witnesses yet another night of finery dawning through the settling darkness. The bride & groom glide into the hall greeted by awaiting eyes and many hearts filled with joy. The day is slower less rushed. Everyone has a meal fit for several kings and reflect on the days spent in getting the two married off! The guest of honor – the bride’s family are graciously hosted and assured their child will be one of the new family and no mistake. The bride’s family bids their little girl a farewell with heavy hearts and set off for the last leg of the long journey.
The families wrap up the finer, set store the memories for another day. The exhausted bride & groom step into a new life that has been celebrated over a six-months preparation and speeded up in three very long days! Add to these description intricacies of relationships, finery, scents, and tastes. Delve into the remnants of the Mughal era in a picture of a middle-class family and you might catch a glimpse of what the colorful weddings in the subcontinent look like!