In the eyes of my friend …
In part 3 of the Wedding Series, I interview a British friend who attended my wedding in Jodhpur, India. Her responses allowed me to see my wedding through a foreign lens!
1. Was this the first Indian wedding you attended?
Yes, this was the first Indian wedding that I attended.
2. What did you find intriguing about your first Indian wedding?
British weddings normally comprise of a wedding ceremony followed by a reception, both within the space of a day. I was intrigued to see the various different aspects of the Indian wedding and how the celebrations would be spread over a number of days.
3. What cultural aspects surprised you?
The cultural aspect that most surprised me was when the bride and groom left following the wedding ceremony. All the guest gathered to see them off, and as part of the goodbye the wedding car had to drive over and smash two coconuts for good luck. The surprising bit though, was the reaction of the guests when saying goodbye. It was very emotional, especially for the bride and the bride’s family who were audibly upset. This was not something I had experienced before.
4. Were there any moments that caught you off guard?
I was caught off guard by one of the evening’s celebrations. A stage had been set up in the hotel grounds and as part of the evening’s events both the bridal party and the groom’s party had to take to the stage and dance. I suddenly found myself on stage and dancing bangra with some other female guests! Although I can’t say much for my dancing, it was a fun and memorable experience.
5. What did you think of the food?
I thought I was in heaven! As a vegetarian, I can sometimes feel like a catering afterthought, but because this was a Jain wedding all the food was vegetarian and there was a lot of it! I was amazed at the amount of food, which was served around the hotel courtyard. Also, the hosts very kindly pointed out dishes with less oil and spice to those guests less used to Indian cuisine.
6. If you could put together a list of dos-and-don’ts for foreigners attending Indian weddings, what would this list look like?
- Do have various outfits available, as an Indian wedding usually consists of a number of different ceremonies and events, for which guests change outfits.
- Do be prepared to join in with the festivities rather than passively standing on the side-lines!
- Do try a range of food, but if you have a delicate stomach or are unused to the cuisine, ask for dishes with less oil and spice.
- Don’t think you’ll be able to put a saree on by yourself – this is a two-person job!
- Don’t be afraid to talk with the other guests – they are probably very friendly and love to talk about where you’re from and how you know the bride and groom.
- Don’t expect there to be alcohol at the wedding, as this will depend on the bride and groom’s cultural and religious beliefs.
7. Were there any events or functions that you wish you could include at Western weddings?
It was nice to have an engagement celebration with all the guests on the first day. Also, I really liked the evening event when the bride and groom were up on stage and joined by friends and family – I think this could go down well at a Western wedding!
8. How did you find wearing a Saree for the first time? Did you find it uncomfortable?
I’ve always admired the colour and vibrancy of Indian weddings, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to buy a saree. I bought a dark purple one from a shop in Tooting Bec, London and wrapped it with care in my suitcase. Thankfully, one of the bride’s aunty’s helped to arrange it (there is a lot of fabric which needs wrapping and folding!). The saree was actually pretty comfortable to wear, the only difficulty I had was with the length, as it reached the floor and I was wary of tripping over.
I’m Veerangna, and I currently live in sunny California with my husband. My parents are Indians living in Singapore, and that’s where my brother and I grew up. After studying Law at King’s College London, I spent a few years working in law firms in Singapore before moving to San Jose. For fun,I am learning to play the Piano, and have recently developed an interest in hiking. My new appreciation for nature has helped me become a calmer person – I do believe in the healing power of Trees!