Sunday, April 11, 2010

White Wedding - hey, it's an actual wedding ceremony (Part 4 of 5)

If you've missed any of the adventures so far, find part one here, part two here, part three here and a bonus post here.  Also, please note that this will likely be fairly lengthy, so it won't hurt my feelings if you skip a bit. It'll hurt my pride, but not my feelings.

When we last left our heroes, the wedding had been delayed for unknown reasons (ok, I know them, but unfortunately I've been asked not to share the reason - especially on the interwebs, but I can tell you it was nothing fun, serious or even interesting). This gave us extra time to wear our Indian clothes (women wear what is called a sari while men wear a Sherwani) which was nice since the odds are I'll never wear them again. Ok, that's not completely true, I plan on wearing it to any Halloween party I'm invited to from now until I die.

For those of you not familiar with Hindu weddings (and I'm going to assume that's most of you), traditionally they are arranged marriages. So on the wedding day, the groom's family and friends would parade from his town/village to his bride's town/village with drumming, dancing, singing. This is known as the baraat and to be honest, I didn't really have high expectations for this. You see, our extended family is a bunch of rhythmically-challenged white people who exemplify the stereotype of white people not being able to dance. 

What I didn't know is that there to assist us would be a relative of the bride who had his wedding on TLC's Extreme Weddings who was going to guide us. A high school friend of mine also played the traditional drum of the ceremony (he told us earlier that day that he wasn't as technically proficient as the professionals he'd been watching on youtube the past month, which came as a shock to all of us. We figured a month was plenty of time to master a technique that others have devoted years to learning.) Obviously we didn't march to another town, but instead were just marching around the side of the hotel to the pavilion where the bride's family would be waiting to greet us.

Once we all gathered outside, the drumming started and the dancing started and no matter how hard I tried, there was no way to avoid having to dance. Many of the Indian women came and grabbed me and my brother and brought us to the circle where my brother and others were doing what can only be described as very bad dancing. However, the energy and enthusiasm was so infectious that eventually I got over my self-consciousness and got into the dancing. I wish I'd taken the time, however, to look at the guests at the hotel who were checking in when there were about 80 people dancing and chanting to Indian drumming. I'm fairly certain that wasn't the scene they expected when they booked their room.

So we proceed to making our way towards the pavilion where the ceremony was to take place. Now what my brother didn't know is that shortly after my mother learned about the baraat is that she emailed everyone who was going to be there and asked them to learn Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' to perform as we got close to arriving. So we get to about 50 yards away from the bride's family greeting us and all of a sudden, the bass notes of Thriller start playing over the speakers. Slowly, the chaotic mass of people turns into a slightly less chaotic mess of people who have all started poorly performing the dance. My brother, who was leading the parade, had no idea what was happening behind him until someone told him to turn around where he saw all his friends and family desecrating a dance. (We later learned that the Bride's friends and family LOVED seeing us do that and it meant a lot to them that we'd gotten so involved in their traditions, so that was cool.)

After finally arriving at the pavilion, there was some sort of ceremony were my brother was welcomed (I'm going to be completely honest, even though the priest explained everything that was happening and what it meant, I don't remember most of the details.) At some point, he had to take his shoes off and Official Brother and I were supposed to guard the shoes from the Bride's cousins who were supposed to try to steal them. You can probably guess by the fact that I said we were SUPPOSED to do that as to how that went. (The end of the ceremony, he has to pay to get his shoes back . . . they ended up costing him $100.)

We neglected that aspect of the ceremony for two reasons . . . first, we didn't realize it'd happened already, and second, we were concerned about holding a sheet in front of my brother to keep him from seeing his bride. We had no idea when this was to take place in the ceremony, and we were terrified of ruining the wedding but screwing that up. Fortunatley, they made it abundantly clear when we were supposed to begin holding the sheet and the priest said with some dramatic flair "Drop the Sheet!" to let us know our job was done.

What we didn't realize is that after we'd done that (about 20 minutes into the wedding) it would be another two hours before it was finally over. Fortunately, my son was there and every now and again, he'd wander off to play in the grass or explore the bushes, so I could go follow him and not feel too bad about not paying attention. As it turns out, a lot of people (from both families) wound up leaving before it was over, which is acceptable. And I guess if I'd traveled to a different village and walked a few miles or more, I'd want more than a 15 minute ceremony. 

There were a lot of symbolic gestures involved, but the most bizarre to me was how they managed to continue the tradition of the bride's family giving the groom's family a cow. Instead of getting a live cow (which I would have loved to have seen, mostly for trying to see my mom get a cow back to Georgia), they got a miniature silver cow. I'm dying to know where that's going in the house.

At some point, the bride and groom walked around a sacred fire four times while family and friends showered them with flower petals (or you hit the bride in the face with the flowers . . . you know, either way). Again, I'm sure this symbolized something, but at this point, all it meant to me was that it was another something I didn't totally understand that meant lunch had to continue to wait.

Eventually, the wedding ended (though my brother swears he heard the priest say two or three times that whatever they'd just finished doing concluded the ceremony, only to have it to keep going) and we got to go enjoy some Indian food for lunch. It was a bit on the spicy side, but it was pretty good. It's not something I'd ask Yes Dear to make, but if we're ever invited to another Indian wedding, I'll look forward to the cuisine. However, if you want to know more and have a few hours to spare, I'm sure you can youtube a ceremony. It honestly was interesting

After (a very late) lunch and pictures, we went to catch the end of the third round of The Masters before heading back downstairs for the reception, which was a fantastic time. Among other reasons for being so fun, I can now say that I've danced with a woman who had her wedding shown on TLC. (I'm not allowed to add that to my bucket list after it's already happened, am I?) After a few too many rum and cokes, my brother and I got into a discussion about the two female bartenders working in opposite corners of the reception hall. The hot one poured less alcohol in the drinks she served, but she was substantially hotter than the more liberal pouring bartender. We'd just witnessed a Hindu wedding no more than six hours before this, but this topic was the one that needed our attention that night. (Our verdict, go with the less attractive bartender . . . you're never going to see them again . . . .  well, that and I'm married and he's engaged.)

Note: Tomorrow I'm hoping to write an overall wrap up with my observations from the weekend.

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