Friday, November 28, 2008

A punjabi wedding : Part-4

Finally around 11 p.m there is a murmur around the place that the bride has arrived. Sure enough I see my friend covered in a dark maroon dress [ I don't know what it is called ;), I think it is a Lehanga ], making a very slow progression towards the side of the stage for a photography section.

Why so slow , you might ask ?

For starters, I am told that the dress weighed around 8 kilos. The dress is also long, so it sort of flows below her feet. Somebody has to lift the dress a bit for her to walk . The third factor is of course the absurdly tall heels , which she was wearing in a desperate attempt to hide the fact that she is vertically challenged :-). After the photo session, she proceeded to hide a room in the farm.

Meanwhile we heard some excitement on the road outside, time was around 11.45 pm . The baraat party was just about visible on the road now. We could hear the loud music and see the bright lights. I could see lot of colored umbrellas also as part of the baraat. There was of-course the customary horse driven chariot too. We were not allowed to see it in too much detail as all the bride's party were asked to scoot inside the farm and stand behind a tape drawn across the entrance. Again the fear of doing something wrong and sparking off an inter-caste bloodbath made the three of us scamper behind the tape in double quick time ;)

You know why I think a horseback ride to a wedding is a good idea ? It gives you the first feel for a bumpy and painful ride :-))

The temperatures were quite low outside and we resorted to hiding inside one of the halls to escape from the incessant chilly breeze and continuously falling dew.

The procession headed towards us at a painful pace. In fact there was a moment when we thought it was actually heading backwards !! Near the tape at the entrance there seemed to be some negotiations going on between the groom's and the bride's side. I could see lot of people laughing, so must have been fairly entertaining conversation. [ Hope it was not a dowry negotiation ;) ]

Finally the groom and his party got in and proceeded towards the stage. Shortly after that the bride emerged from her hideout and did her "penguin walk" towards the stage and joined the groom. She was taken right till the stage by her family and then the groom took her hand and welcomed her.  Pretty romantic stuff !! :). For some bizarre reason, there was an engagement function then followed by a reception. It was new to me on 2 counts

  • Never heard of a couple having reception before the actual wedding takes place
  • What is the point of the engagement ceremony when marriage happens 2 hours later ??

Anyway due to the lateness of the hour, hardly 50 folks were around, mostly family members. One thing I did find hilarious during the entire ceremony was my friend's attempt to act like a shy bride. She was very consciously not looking up or laughing. It was so against the natural personality that I just had to laugh out from time to time :).

The engaged couple proceeded for a photo session , followed by a brief dance on the disco floor ( !!) and then proceeded to have their dinner at the tender time of around 1.30-2 am !!

Mixture of cold weather and sleep deprivation had caused me to puff away happily on my inhaler. I swear that I had enough steroids in my system that day to fail any dope test :((

And finally on the mini-stage for the actual marriage. By this time only the close family and the three bakras from Bangalore were around. The customary fire was lit , an the couple were seated next to it as was the Panditji. Weather was so cold that I was sorely tempted to push away the Pandit and sit in front of the fire myself. Using loads of self control ( which you naturally acquire after a few years of marriage ) , I restrained myself.

The ceremony itself was bit of an anti climax. We started around 3-3.30 am and it hardly lasted an hour. The bride [ who had to be helped to get to her feet because of the heavy dress :) ] and groom did 7 rounds around the fire, Panditji extracted some pretty heavy promises from the groom on what he is supposed to do after the marriage and we were done !! [ Let me say if he intends to keep all of those promises, he is a dead man :-) ]

So at 4.30 am we headed back to our rooms. Was chilled to the bone, tired and on the verge of getting an asthma attack .

As I reflected on the entire ceremony, I can't help admit I've never seen something as grand in my life !! Only feeling that lingered in my mind was that the delays are a bit un-necessary . A wedding held on-time just has to be so much more enjoyable for everyone concerned.

But hey, I attended a Punjabi wedding, made a trip to North India, sampled some awesome food, all without speaking a single word of hindi !! Not bad at all.

So what is next ? A Kashmiri wedding, perhaps ?

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