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A traditional Indian wedding

This blogpost is posted by one of our German volunteers

On the 14th of November Clara, Lisa and I had the wonderful experience of attending our first wedding in India. Attending a truly Indian wedding, was definitely at the very top of my must-do’s list for India.

Last week our co-worker Sharmila invited us to her cousins wedding near Chittoor. Obviously we didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation. This is how it went.

The wedding ceremony itself took place at 11 o’clock. Usually, Hindi weddings take place in the morning or evening. Astrologers decide which time is a ‘good’ time. Only a wedding which took place at a ‘good’ time can result in a happy marriage. But due to the fact that we attended a Christian wedding, it took place in the morning.

Wedding preparations

We started by taking an auto-rickshaw to Sharmila’s house at 7 am. The whole family of the bride was there, getting ready together. So when we arrived at Sharmila's house, it was packed. Everyone seemed to be rushing through the house, running up the steps to get hair pins, flowers or other accessories. Each open door revealed yet another room in which some other woman put on her bright-colored silk-saree. – In India it is a tradition to wear silk sarees to a wedding.

Eventually we walked up the stairs and entered a room. In the middle of the turmoil, there was a small boy napping on the floor, as if there was no noise at all around him.

Nisha and Sharmila gathered around us, beginning to help us binding our saree’s. Meanwhile Sharmila’s mother brought us a cup of coffee and we were introduced to everyone passing by: cousins, aunts, nephews and so on. When two vans arrived, we had a rushed breakfast of Idly and chutney’s.

We drove to the final location for about one hour, passing beautiful landscape, small villages and eventually the border to Andar Pradesh.

As soon as the driver announced our arrival, we climbed down the steps of the van, carefully lifting our saree's, to avoid stepping on it. At the end of the street, a big tent was established next to a tiny church. The whole wedding decorations concluded big colorful tents, flowers and garlands, while the church itself was full of shiny, silver, pink, blue and green garlands. (see the picture below)

We passed the church and headed to the grooms house in which the bride was getting ready. Everyone finished a late breakfast: Pongal, and the ceremony was about to begin.

The ceremony

The ceremony was in Tamil and again we were lucky to have Nisha with us, who translated the happening. In the beginning the pastor asked the parents, the villagers and all attending guests, if from their impression, they support and give their consent for the wedding. As everyone agreed, the ceremony could proceed.

It was really crowded and loud. The loudest noise seemed to be the speaker of the pastor, but the guests didn’t mind continuing their conversations predominating it. Children were crying, the speaker was squeaking due the immense volume, and phones where ringing. But I didn’t get the impression that the volume was uncommon for a wedding, everyone seemed content. For each important moment of the ceremony, the guests ran up to the altar and took pictures of the smiling couple. The small girl sitting in front of me mainly focused on me, not the wedding. When she laid her eyes off me, she looked at her friend, making big eyes and pointing at me. I must say, I was a bit disturbed and quite happy about the final exchange of fruits as gifts, flower chains and jewelry for each bride and groom.

As the ceremony finished, we ate Biryani (also the veg version: white rice with brinjal and curd) and went for a small walk. Coming back we actually didn’t attend the reception, so we didn’t take a picture with the couple.

A big thank you to Sharmila for making this unique experience possible for us! It was truly nice to see such a traditional and important event of the Indian culture in real life.

Yours Zoe

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