That Indian weddings are a huge event, that we all know. I mean, I thought I knew until I started experiencing it by myself.. because one thing is being a guest, and another very different matter is to be the star of the show!
Although most Indian families have weddings that become several long days affairs, we kept it all pretty straight forward. Funny that I say “straight forward” because our celebration still seems very elaborate compared to the average where I come from. But by Indian standards, the fact that our wedding and reception took place in one day only is quite unusual.
But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some built up leading to it…
The Indian Family arrives
A few days before our wedding, family from outside Delhi started arriving. On one given day, I was told “some aunts are coming today“. The moment the door was opened, I saw one aunt, and then another one, and then the daughters, and then the cousins, and then more cousins, and then the husbands… Never underestimate the concept of “family” in India. When someone says “some family is coming over” it probably means a lot of people, not just 3 or 4 like I would normally understand.
And this is how I met (part) of Ashray’s relatives from Assam, his family’s original state, close to China.
With a love for their Assamese traditions, they made sure the bride (yep, me!) also had a taste of Assam. I was gifted traditional jewelry and mekhlas (the local dress of Assam). I thanked everyone for my presents and what happened after that was almost a blur. In about 2 minutes I had all the women from the family around me: they decided to dress me up, accessorize me and present me to rest of the family dressed as a proper Assamese girl. But of course I didn’t have time to understand what was going on, because they were all talking in Assamese! We all laughed and I guess that’s the best international communication tool there is.
The Portuguese Family arrives
If meeting the Indian family was quite a big deal, what was about to happen next was even a bigger thing! At least for me. My Mom and Sister had just come from Portugal for the wedding and it was time to introduce them to Ashray’s family. Although we’ve been together for years, the distance between Portugal and India had never allowed for them to meet before. I guess the “parents meet parents” situation is always quite intimidating, but considering we all come from such different backgrounds, it promised to be something unique.
I told my girls to “dress appropriately” and so we gathered to enjoy a lunch deliciously prepared by my Mother-in-law and got to know each other a little bit. It all went smooth and was actually a lot of fun. We exchanged gifts as if it was Christmas day and my Mom and Sis were given their sarees for the wedding. They couldn’t be any more thrilled: “it’s just like the movies!’.
And friends arrive too!
With this “oh my gosh, we’re almost like in a Bollywood movie!” feeling, the rest of the crew got into town as well. That is, our friends from Portugal and Dubai. Seeing my friends from different sides of the world together enjoying as if they were long time mates was indeed a very cool sensation.
The Portuguese girls were also on a “saree high”, that evolved into a Delhi markets high, bangles high… anything related to shopping and fashion high! Our friend Ayush’s Mom was kind enough to lend everyone beautiful sarees for the wedding and while someone was pointing out that the sarees look indeed gorgeous but they didn’t know how to wear them, a brilliant Portuguese mind stated:
Wearing a saree is just like rolling a joint…
but you just go round and round more times!
With sarees and bangles galore, the only thing left to pimp our Indian look was applying the traditional henna the bride and girls do before the wedding. I got my hands, arms and feet covered in this chocolaty mix than then dries up, falls off your skin, and becomes an intricate temporary tattoo.
The rest of the girls, as per the tradition, decorated the hands only.
It’s worth mentioning that, in all of this, while the Portuguese bride had already 6 sarees and jewellery (and I didn’t even have to go shopping myself!) the Indian groom had no clothes and there were only 2 days before the wedding! In one morning, we went shopping and managed to get Ashray both sets of clothes he’d be using for the wedding and the dinner reception. It’s damn easy to shop with this man – one more thing to love about him!
On the same night of the henna painting, we held a dinner party to welcome everyone from abroad. An inspiring mix of people from India and Portugal, making the world feel a lot smaller all of a sudden.
It was a relaxed evening, or at least that was the case until Dushi, who became the DJ for the night, let “Chop Suey” by System of a Down resonate out loud against the walls of the community centre of our building. That was one surreal moment!
But the truth is that it was just one of many more to come!…