On the wedding day, the bride’s party assembled in one part of the Mandarin Oriental, while the groom’s family assembled in the elevator lobby that went directly to the function space (they have another lobby which is the main lobby–it’s a very strange set-up–this one is isolated from the rest of the hotel specifically so that people can head to the function area without going through the hotel).
There’s a very interesting Gujarati wedding tradition called the Baraat. The first part of the wedding is that the groom keeps the bride’s family waiting. While we were waiting in the dedicated lift lobby, some of the women began to sing traditional songs. In the past, the Baraat was the procession from the groom’s house to that of the bride, and was meant to be long and loud as possible. I don’t speak Gujarati, and neither does Ravi, so I can’t translate what the song is about.
We eventually took the lift to the third floor, where the function space was. But the Baraat wasn’t quite over yet. First there was a lot of dancing, and taking our time to inch along the hall. Ravi used the baby as an excuse not to dance, and Ellie was a bit overwhelmed, so I danced for all of us. I can’t really dance, so I mostly just tried my best to mimic what everyone else was doing.
Eventually, though, we reached a gate, where Adi (as I understand it) was greeted by Pooja’s family. We entered the room where the ceremony would take place and Adi was seated. The priest spoke in both Gujarati (or Hindi?) and English. Then they put up a curtain so that Adi couldn’t see the bride enter. Pooja entered under a canopy.
Then she was seated, the curtain still up between them. The priest spoke for a while and then the curtain was dropped.
The next big traditional thing that they did is that the bride has to put a garland around the groom’s neck. But it is the job of the groom’s friends to lift him out the way, so it took a number of tries. In the picture below, you can see Adi’s friends lifting him out of the way as he avoids the garland yet again.
I think it was about this point that Rhi got hungry. So I excused myself and asked the staff to find a place for me to breastfeed. I can confidently say that in over a year of breastfeeding, trying to do so while wearing a chanya choli was the biggest challenge I faced, both in terms of just getting to the *ahem* equipment, and then trying to get dressed again (and even so, had to ask my mother in law to help me fix the drape afterward).
When I arrived back at the wedding, there was a lot happening with the fire.
I have to admit, of all the Gujarati traditions, the fire related ones were the ones I’d wanted to do the most at my own wedding. Ravi had said a firm no, so this was my first time seeing them in person. The picture below is one of my favorites from the wedding.
After that was the seven (?) steps around the fire. I got to go up to the mat where they were and participate in throwing carnation petals at them as they passed us (which you see flying through the air in the next shot).
There was a bit where Adi put Pooja’s big toe on a number of bundles, each representing a promise, but I was a bit lost as to what was fully going on. There was a very sweet unscripted moment when one of the young guests ran up to Pooja to give her flowers.
I missed the final bit of the wedding as my girls were both fussy. So the entire family (my inlaws, Ravi, myself and the girls ened up out in the hallway…along with the majority of the other young guests/families).
The thing that’s a bit odd (from an American perspective) about Indian wedding is that it is considered totally fine to step out and wander back in, and is even expected to a certain extent.
But I had great fun, and would love to attend another. I know that in India they are far longer than 3 days. When we visited in 2006, I got to attend a Garba party where the women were dancing with sticks. Adi’s younger sister had wedding related events for more than two weeks!