We got invited to a wedding. But not any wedding, a wedding to top all weddings. The son of my husband’s business advisor was marrying the daughter of one of the top silk merchants in the south. The groom, from the north; the bride, a South Indian. This meant a blend of two different Indian cultures, and the proud parents had to throw the wedding of the century.
I could not turn this opportunity down; we had to go. It turns out that by slightly adjusting our trip, we could be at both the reception and the wedding. So we booked our flights to Bangalore and went shopping for proper wedding attire almost as soon as we landed in Mumbai.
The reception was held the night before the wedding, and was decidedly North Indian. It was held at the amazing Royal Orchid hotel, known for it’s over the top venue. The reception was on the lawn, which was decorated with lights, tables, a buffet that took up one whole side of the lawn, a full bar, and of course a red carpet (Yes, I walked it. When else in your life do you get to walk a red carpet and pretend your a celebrity? ).
But before we could enjoy that, we went down the road to witness the baraat. Here the groom came riding in on a horse. The band was playing and everyone was encouraged to dance in front of the horse and help lead him to the hall. We put the kids up high so they could see the “prince”. My daughter loved dancing along with the band. However, the music soon got too loud so we went back to the front doors and waited for the procession.
Once we got back to the front doors, we heard the familiar Sissssss….BOOM! Fireworks! Yes, this was truly a North Indian wedding, complete with fireworks. While the adults were all fascinated, try as I might, the kids wanted nothing to do with them. My son just kept telling me it was too loud. So we retreated inside where we were happy to find the bar and buffet line had opened.
Once on the lawn, we ate and drank and chatted with friends, and in the distance I noticed some women walking in holding a red veil over their heads. Here comes the bride! The only issue, she was shorted and surrounded by her much taller family and friends. We had trouble spotting her. So we did what most of the guests were doing, ignored the ceremony going on, and went on eating, drinking and talking. Once done, we went inside to watch the choreographed dances. Yes, you read that right, choreographed dances. Turns out it’s a thing in Northern India to hire a choreographer who teaches family and friends to do dances which they perform for the crowds who attend the reception. So fun to watch all the family and friends dance, then the final dance, the bride and groom. We finally figured out which one one was the bride!
My son was fascinated with the dancing. He stood up and watched and watched. At first it was all the girls and he asked me when the boys would dance. Then we saw couples come out and do choreographed dances and he was so excited to see boys dancing too. Once they opened up the dance floor, I invited him to come on the floor with me, but at the last minute he chickened out, getting too shy to dance in a crowd. By then it was 11pm and my daughter was practically asleep as well as my son. So we called it and went back to the house we were staying to get some rest.
The next morning was the wedding reception. Here this was a full on traditional South Indian ceremony, held at the Ritz-Carlton. There were flowers everywhere, starting at the staircase leading downstairs, on the floor, lining the entrance, and of course covering the mandap where the actual ceremonies took place. The bride being the daughter on one of the leading silk manufactures, was decked out in a grand, golden silk sari. She had her hair decorated in long extension and covered in jasmine and gold. As I looked around the room I saw all the female guests decked out in extravagant silk saris with lots of gold work. The saris were so extravagant, I felt mine was not grand enough, and I wore my wedding sari!
Once the knot tying ceremony was done, people were invited up to bless the couple. We joined the line, and brought our kids with us. My son and daughter were both very shy as we met the couple and wished them a happy marriage. Later after we came down, my son wanted to know if we got to spend more time with the prince and princess.
After the ceremony and the blessing, the buffet was opened. Here you had a grand feast. The Ritz Carlton knows how to do food right. Besides a buffet that had all types of South Indian delicacies, there was two types of pasta (which meant my kids actually ate something), and several dosa stations, where the cooks made the fresh lentil pancakes, and potatoes, sambar, and a variety of chutneys were available to accompany the scrumptious dosa. Then we hit up the dessert bar. There were individual clay pots of kulfi, a Indian ice cream flavored with rose water and pistachios, a jeera poli, a flat sweet pancake topped with a cream sauce, and a Mississippi mud cake that just melted in your mouth and tasted as if it was made with the best dark chocolate I’ve ever tasted.
The kids ate to their hearts content (with my son finishing two clay pots of kulfi). They then ran around like little Tasmanian devils. My husband had a meeting in the afternoon, so unfortunately we had to leave the wedding fairyland, jumping in a cab to fight Bangalore traffic dreaming of the dancing, flowers and food we enjoyed the last two days.