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Published: January 1st 2007
After a seven hour delay at Delhi airport on 23 December 2006 due to fog/smog...you choose!! I landed in Baroda City in the late afternoon, to be greeted by Ompriya my Australian student at University of Queensland Gatton Campus. Gosh she was a site for sore eyes. I just hugged her so tight and cried and cried. I was so relieved to see a familiar face. One of a million as it seems to come, when I was greeted by endless family members at the Baroda home of the grooms parents. Family is pivotal in India I quickly learnt. And not just immediate members. The extension has breadth and depth, each member so reverent to the other, greetings of Namaste and hands in prayer at heart centre. I was overcome with love by strangers, who did not treat me as such, but most could not speak a word of english. I was overwhelmed with names and positions in family. But mostly nodded and smiled and greeted them in my way, with a tight hug. They found this quite alien in the beginning but by the end of three days of celebrations they were even expecting hugs from me. I had no
Shopping, Shopping, Shopping
Shopping in Baroda City for Kurtis and Salwar Kameez. So much fun.
idea of what was to follow that consisted of festival and celebrations for the iminent wedding of Ompriyas cousin- of which they call a 'brother'. This is an arranged marriage and is common in India and in this caste. We were to call him Wararaja during the celebrations leading up to the actual ceremony. This meant he was King soon to be husband. The family which was huge take these celebrations and rituals so seriously. Seriously, however, you will hear endless mobile phones going off during rituals etc..I found that quite funny.
The morning of the 24th December saw the first of the formal festival celebrations with special catered breakfast. The women look amazing in their colourful saris and salwar kameez.
That evening was the ritual of Havan and I am so jealous of how much sweets are exchanged during this ritual. My mouth was just watering and wished and hoped some would be passed to me. This was a special change in saris and other costumes. The women take this very seriously and just love changing outfits all the time. Then later we celebrated with Garba, a dance festival in the street outside the Grooms' parents home.
I had the best time and justloved all the Indian dancing of which I took to like duck to water. Oh the food is to die for. Supper consisted of Darbalee, a type of Indian hotdog. Spicy, nutty and just yummy on a bun. I suppose we could compare it to a hotdog sort of. I had absolute gastronomic overload with all the great tea and food. My tummy felt it later though.
The celebration was embrased by every woman, man and child. And mostly the family loved having me apart of it all.
The morning of 25th started so early after such a long night of dancing celebrations, with a huge catered for breakfast once again. I just can't get enough of Indian sweets. You've just got to try Jelly-be, it tastes a little orangy, is fried in oil and is the most fattening and delightful taste you will ever come across. After the breakfast was the festival of exchange of gifts. What an amazing event. Where the brides family exchange gifts to each member of the family. Then in turn a certain amount of gifts from the grooms family to the brides. I felt so honoured
when I was also given a monetary gift. I couldn't believe that this was such an important event in this family, and they chose to include me. I was totally humbled.
After the lengthy gift giving ritual it was off to change again for the dancing in the street to the wedding ceremony itself. I was totally exhausted and they weren't even married yet. Mind you I still hadn't seen the bride. So I was so eager to check her out. I truly had to dig deep for energy to proceed through the streets in costume and still sit for a few hours through the ceremony.
I finally laid my eyes on the bride. She just looked beautiful. Wararaja and the bride were like a Bollywood movie. Attention to every detail. Garlands of Marigolds, Chrysanthemums etc were placed on them and decorated the ceremonial stage. This is real serious business. Weddings aren't to be scoffed at here. Every member is included. I was completely overwhelmed.
Following again we celebrated with more catered food. There is no such thing as hungry in India. I just wanted to run away from it all, but it tasted so good that
She has a very important role in the marriage rituals before, during and afterward.
I didn't care that I couldn't fit it in, I just made it fit in.
The time of the evening came where the bride farewelled her family, as it is customary that she lives with the groom and his family wherever that may be. I just had so much emotion at this point. This girl has never been away from her mamma. She was crushing her mammas neck, and tears falling. Her mamma being so brave and peeling her off and pushing her to her husband. I had so many questions running through my mind. Was she prepared for this truly? Was she prepared for consumating the marriage? Did she know about contraception? Was the new mother-in-law going to be comassionate and kind to her? I truly felt a pain through my body as this girl was about to become a woman in so many ways.
We moved then onto Wararajas' parents home for the ritual of welcoming her into the family and home. This again was so emotional for me. And part of it was to dilute tika in a tray for her to stand in and place her red footprints in the home. I was given
the privilige of blessing both of them with tikka and rice on their forehead. This for me was an amazing experience of which I will never forget. I broke down and cried as I walked away. This family truly made me part of the blessings of the new married couple.
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