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Published: February 7th 2018
It is marriage season in India, and I knew that one of the staff members who worked here until recently was getting married today. I also knew I was invited. But that was all I knew.
So as we got closer to the date, I tried to get a little more information such as if I were really invited, where, when, etc. But as usual, the answers I got varied a lot, so I resorted to my usual technique: just wait and see.
So this morning, like every morning, I got up and went to the dining hall with the kids for their morning soy milk, had chai with staff, and went back to my room to wash some clothes. Around 8 am, one of the staff members knocked on my door: "Sister! Are you ready?" So this was my cue, and of course what happened next was entirely different from all the other versions I had heard so far. So I packed my sari, my big camera and a bottle of water and off I went, in the "chilly" morning, to the home of Monika.
There I was fully welcomed into the family, they offered me chai, and I was
invited upstairs where the bride was getting her hair and make up done with the help of a couple of women. As I watched the whole process, I discovered that the choli (short blouse) that one wears with a sari has some kind of little hook to make sure your bra strap is not showing... Ah, so smart. But what else would you expect from an ancient civilization! They had time to figure it out. But I still have lots to learn...
I wasn't sure if I should wear my sari or not, thinking all of a sudden that a red sari at a wedding may be inappropriate, as this is the color the bride wears. But it was too late anyway, Monika's mother (who is by the way exactly my age), helped me to put it on. This is one of the good things about being a foreigner: you almost always get away with doing weird stuff, most of the time without having a clue about it. Forget about pride.
Monika looked stunning. But what I was really impressed with was how relaxed she looked. I think I was more stressed out than she was, hoping I would not
trip or loose my sari or something.
Once she was ready, we hopped in a car and drove to the nearby temple. There I was invited to wait with her in the small building with her mother and close friends or family. I couldn't believe it. I was like a guest of honor, and they even went to the extent of having me sit on the altar where the ceremony was later held, with the groom's parents, the priest and one other person. It is not like I know Monika all that well, it is just once again a great example to show how open and welcoming people are in India. I can't imagine anything like that happening in Canada even if we also are quite welcoming...
The groom arrived, and he walked, to the sound of the drum, to the altar where he sat. They had a white cloth in front of him when Monika arrived so he couldn't see her, she walked around him, sat in front of him and they took the cloth off. Then the priest recited mantras, there were offerings and all kinds of rituals. A delicious meal was served, actually prepared by our cook
at the home who took the day off for the occasion. After the meal, it seemed like the right time for me to go, so I got a ride back to the home, very happy and certainly grateful for this wonderful experience. Apparently there was more happening in the evening, dancing and all, but I was by then back at the home where the kids were asking me all kinds of questions about the wedding, most importantly what I was wearing and if I had an appropriate hairstyle!
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