Today (9 December 2012) I was invited with Shiv and Narendra to the wedding of one of Narendra’s students from a few years ago. To start the trip, we took an “auto” (three wheeled taxi) to the nearest train station. There was a long line at the ticket office so we decided to try first class which lets the purchaser go to the head of the line. The ticket is about 10 times the cost of second class but we bought the tickets and proceeded to the platform.
The train arrived, we boarded and found seats. At Thane, we changed trains and continued to our destination, Dombivli, where we found another auto that took us to the site of the wedding.
The wedding site had three floors and all were being used. We were sent first up one flight to the room that was used for eating.
In the middle of the room was a huge floral display. It appeared to have several different colors of roses. But on closer inspection, the flowers were made of vegetables! The orange roses were made of thin slices of carrot, white ones from radishes and the red roses were made from beet root. We were offered breakfast before returning to the ground floor where we met the bride and groom.
The wedding consisted of many rituals. I am not sure what all of them were. I was told that one ritual was from south India. Most marriages in India are arranged. The groom, as some point, declares that he will not go through with the wedding and makes a big show of leaving. The bride and her family follow and beg him to return – which he eventually does. The wedding then proceeds.
The wedding party – bride, groom, priest and assistant, family members – move from place to place withing the three levels.
While the various rites and rituals are taking place, the assembled guests mingle and chat, maneuver to get closer to take pictures or find their way to a buffet table for food and refreshments. Many of the rituals involve food and the participants walk in circles, at times with the bride and groom in a flower decorated swing set.
Later in the day, the participants moved to the upper level where they settled onto a raised stage.
Finally, most of the rituals were completed and it was time to take pictures. When we had all the pictures we were going to take, we descended to the dining level and were treated to a wonderful buffet of traditional foods. I put more photos of the wedding on my Picasa site.
After eating, we headed out, engaged an auto and were driven to another part of town for a visit with Narendra’s cousin who lives in Dombivli.
We had to stop for directions a few times before being led to their apartment. After a short visit, we took another auto to the train station. This time, we traveled second class which requires the use of elbows to gain sufficient standing room.
I wish the happy couple a long, happy and prosperous life together. And many thanks for allowing us to attend your special day.