I am in India primarily because of the wedding nuptials of my friend D. She was born in Kerala, and her family moved to Chennai when she was older. This was also why I chose to visit Kerala.
Wedding traditions, even the Chinese ones, are quite confusing to me. Unlike the Chinese wedding traditions, Indian wedding traditions have not been simplified; what I saw at the wedding was exactly how it happened for D’s mother and her grandmother before that.
There’s something beautiful about that. But I was confused half the time during the weekend.
D’s wedding nuptials (2 days) were really short compared to the ones I have heard about in North India (they can last up to 7 days!).
On the evening before the wedding, the engagement party was held. At this event, the couple (supposedly) meets for the first time. The bride-to-be spends some time acting coy.
However, this couple met in May 2014. D was still rather coy at this event. Or maybe she was uncomfortable – she has always been a t-shirt and shorts kinda person.
The bride and groom takes turns to be blessed by their friends and families at the engagement party.
The process involved tumeric, powdered red tumeric(?), fresh flowers and some red water. I had to put the powders on D, sprinkle some flower petals on her and move a platter of red water in a circular motion in front of her.
The next day, I had to wake up very early to prepare for the actual wedding ceremony.
D woke up even earlier to put on her numerous garlands and rich red sari. Look at her looking tired.
The ceremony was too long for me to fully understand, but there were some parts I liked very much.
Apparently, the groom is supposed to have cold feet before the wedding and tries to run away in order to pursue a life in monkhood. The father/elder brother is supposed to stop him and convince him that marrying his daughter/sister is a more profitable/rewarding thing to do than becoming a saint.
Guests tied gold chains and rupee notes to D’s head. The groom was left untouched.
Meals were provided for all attendees to the wedding, and people were allowed to drift in and out of the hall to get food. There are no rules, no decorum. Just do whatever you like.
Food was super good at this wedding. I stuffed myself silly and skipped a meal after the wedding ceremony.
I skipped off in the afternoon for a henna session as I had missed the pre-wedding bridal henna party.
In the evening, there was a dinner reception. Again, this is a super grand event.
A throne was set up on the stage of the hall.
Again, the couple and their families stand to receive their guests for hours. Their guests eat themselves silly at the reception. The receptions in Chennai are paid for by D’s family. The couple will have to repeat this in the groom’s home city, and the receptions are paid for by the groom’s family.
No food for the couple and their families, and an absolute feast was going on.
I was joined by Ivan at this point of my travels in India. For 6 days, his presence helped me to avoid a lot of potentially dangerous and/or strange encounters with the local men. Men in Kerala are more respectful towards women compared to the men in Tamilnadu.