Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Big Phat Indian Wedding

This month my husband and I will be celebrating our 6th-2nd anniversary. That's right, we've been married twice. The first time was here in the States. We'd been planning a small simple wedding with just family and a friends, but before we knew it, a guest list of 50 grew to about 500. I don't really like weddings, and more than that, I hate being the center of attention. I couldn't care less about the dress, or the cake or all the other seemingly stupid stuff...so I called it off. The next week with Nevada marriage license already in hand (we'd been planning on getting married at Lake Tahoe), we hopped on a flight to Vegas and took care of the matter once and for good...or so I thought.

Yeah, I kind of had a feeling I wasn't getting off that easy with just a court marriage. Shortly thereafter, my husband's parents brought up the idea of us having an Indian wedding. Since we were already legally married, it was really just going to be for show, but it seemed important to them and since they are such nice people and have always been supportive of our relationship and my husband's permanent move to the US, I couldn't really say no. I'd never been to or even seen an Indian wedding before. Hey, who knew, it might even be fun! All of the planning was to be taken care of (sweet!), and all I really had to do was pick out a few saris and just show up. Deal.

I really had no idea what I was getting in to. It turned out to be a 3 day event with thousands of people. What better way to celebrate your love than with 2,000 perfect strangers, right? Even better was when thousands of strangers keep handing you little envelopes full of cash- Ok, I liked that part! The ceremony itself was unlike anything I've ever experienced. We ate some stuff, lit some stuff on fire, were instructed to put this here, that there...and I noticed there was some money changing hands- both USD and Indian Rupees. I think I might have been sold for something like 10 bucks. I had no clue what was going on. There was a lot of chanting in Sanskrit (which I've heard can go on for hours at these things), and at some point my in-laws started shouting and throwing cash at the priest to get him to hurry it up. I guess they're not really wedding people either. At the end of it we made seven circles around a fire to symbolize being joined together for seven lifetimes. Nobody told me that's what I signed up for; I always thought marriage was 'til death do us part...well, I guess not in India!

As part of the 3 day ordeal event, there was a Ladies Sangeet (Ladies Night) full of music and dancing, the ceremony the next day, and then a big reception the day after that, which is when most of the people actually showed up. I'd been to an Indian reception once before, so that wasn't a total shocker...I just didn't know how big ours was going to be. My father-in-law worked in the government for most of his career, so let's just say he has A LOT of friends. He was always very honest in his dealings and was basically that annoying guy who would never accept "favors" from anyone (this is highly unusual with the palm-greasing that goes on over there). As a result my husband's family got moved around a lot, but over the years my father-in-law slowly worked his way up to the top and managed to build a network of connections stretching all over Northern India. It turns out he has some pretty cool friends too- as a special surprise for me, he arranged for a huge fireworks show! I like fireworks! Then, for most of the night my husband were stuck up on a stage, while people lined up to greet us, hand us little envelopes, and have their picture taken. I almost felt like a celebrity being paid to do an appearance. It was pretty crazy! After a few hours of this, we had two whole suitcases full of cash (no joke), which we eventually gave back to my husband's parents to help cover the expenses. My husband estimated that over their lifetime and during my father-in-laws long career, they had probably given that much, if not more, to other people's children at their marriages. At first they were insisting that we keep it, but let's just say the amount would have made it a slight hassle to bring back into the United States. I was truly humbled by their generosity and that of their friends. The one condition was that I did get to touch and play with all the money- throw it up in the air, jump on the bed with it for a couple of hours, roll around...then it was off to the bank with the armed guard and back to life as usual. In the end the experience was worth more than anything. I actually, kind of, even had a little bit of fun. If you ever get a chance to have a big crazy wedding in a foreign country and party with a bunch of rich people you've never met before- DO IT! It was awesome!


HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!


7 comments:

  1. Very nice of you guys to give your in-laws the money. If I rolled around a pile of cash, I don't think I could bare to part with it. :)

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    1. It was a little tough, but they are such good people and do a lot for us so that made it a little easier :)

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  2. When somebody asks me what an Indian wedding is like. I tell them to watch "Monsoon wedding". It is always fun with Bollywood and Bhangra music and JW black label. Was your wedding in Delhi or Punjab?

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    1. You know I still haven't seen that movie, lol, but that sounds like our party! We were married in Delhi.

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