03.26.2014
By Terry Flanagan

I DO (Bollywood Style)

Hailing from the land of tradition, respect and rituals, I decided to explain why our weddings are as large and extensive as they are. People so often inquire to the duration of South Asian weddings yet don’t realize all the tradition and heritage poured in. The effort put forth by said Bridezilla and family are not just to partake in a magical experience, but to also keep the ceremonies and rituals of our history so rich in culture, alive. There are hundreds of ceremonies across multiple cultures and regions but below we shall take a look at a few from the Punjabi culture.

I can break down each and every tradition to be practiced yet we may be here for days. Weddings can range from 3 days to – 3 weeks (moreso in India) and can have as many as 500-5,000 guests. The reason for this, a celebration so grand, is the happiness a family feels in coming into marrying another family. In our culture, its not solely about the Bride and Groom, it’s the intertwining of 2 families that come together in love, respect and expansion of said family.

Typically, celebrations aka parties, are known for their elaborate food and dance. The bright colors, the beautiful clothing, the regal jewelry, the emotional outpour, the lavish rolled out red carpet feeling, the sheer and utter happiness felt by all is what consumes you. You may go so far as to say it’s Christmas {in whichever month you decide to Tie The Knot}.

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Traditions that are followed thousands of years later and going strong.

Roka: The families get together to celebrate the agreement upon the couple being together, the official engagement. This event will most likely be the immediate or very close family.

Sangeet (musical program): This is the one I refer to as the kick-off party for the wedding. This ceremony is considered to be auspicious as the wedding songs sung are said to be full of blessings for the couple. Over time, tradition has called upon a more modern approach so you may see single dance performances by close friends or family or a medley compiled for the couple’s entertainment as an homage to their love/commitment.

Chura

Mehndi: The mehndi is a dye which is applied to the girl’s hands and feet by an artist. The designs are extremely intricate and often, within the design, the bride will have the initials of the groom hidden somewhere. Another very common event to celebrate the beginning of the couple’s life.

Chuda: This is done at the Bride’s home and is touched by all for the blessings and good wishes for a happy married life for the couple. The eldest maternal uncle places a set of 25 or so bangles colored in red and ivory on the each arm of the Bride. Once this is complete, each family member ties a silver or gold ornament which hangs from said bangles, known as Kaleera’s.

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Wedding Ceremony: The actual ceremony of the couple being married. This will occur in the holy house of said religion (Gurudwara, a sikh temple or Mandir, a Hindu temple). A priest will perform the ‘ The Pheras’ or ‘Laavaan’ (Seven Vows in Hinduism and Four Vows in Sikhism).

Doli: This is the most emotional part of the wedding as it signifies the bride leaving her parents home and beginning a new life.

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The Reception: And here it is, the long awaited event of a formal sit-down, speeches, cake cutting, over flowing champagne, DJ’s and more. This is the finale of the an over-the-top Bollywood Style wedding. The first dance is a sight to see. The bling may blind you. The love in the room, unparalleled.

All in all, the week is absolutely exhausting but the experience is unforgettable.

Take my advice, if ever you are invited to an Indian event, R.S.V.P.


Mademoiselle Wanderlust is a regular contributor to the Markets Media Life section.

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