This February I was invited to India for a friend’s wedding. I WAS SO EXCITED!! And at the same time a bit worried because it was the first time traveling outside of Europe. My friend Eleni has joined me.
India is so big that is divided in states and every state has its own traditions, food and habits.
We traveled with Gulf Air. WHAT A GREAT COMPANY!!! I recommend it!!! Nice food and the latest movies. Also the staff is very friendly and polite. The seats were very comfortable.
Arriving to Mumbai early in the morning I was shocked of how summery the weather was. The humidity was high. Going to the departures area of the Mumbai airport I was amazed by the exterior and the interior of the airport. Specifically the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport – Terminal 2 is covered by a singular art installation ( as i see it 😛 ) from outside to inside. Ceiling and columns are covered in rhombus recesses pattern. The American firm SOM who designed the airport was inspired by the architecture of Indian pavilions. A futuristic design with local traditional influences. The airport has it own museum, the GVK New Museum, where all walls are covered in artworks inspired by India.
Arriving at the Goa Airport there was a car waiting for us to transfer us to the hotel. I did not know details about the hotel, haven’t checked the invitation. Goa is full of nature. Coconut trees everywhere. The weather was summery. My first impression arriving to Goa was the crazy driving. People, including our driver, were passing by cars at road twists or when there were cars in the opposite direction of the road.
Anyway, I was checking every building to see which one might be our hotel. After 45 minutes I heard the driver saying this is your hotel. A huge hotel, maybe the huge-st in the area. It was a Grand Hyatt!!! PARADISE!!! At the entrance there were 10 people staff waiting for us. There was a check-in machine for our luggage. We were offered warm towels and coconut water. We got the keys and went to the room. I have never stayed in an awesome hotel room like this one. Big bathroom, king bed and a nice balcony watching at the Arabian sea. The hotel is on the beach. Amazing gardens with coconut trees, outdoor bars and big swimming pool. A 17th century chapel is located at the gardens of the hotel where people are still coming to pray.
The wedding in India lasts for 3 days and there is a schedule for each day. The first day consists of a welcoming dinner and party till the morning. The second day starts with some wedding rituals between the two families and then a garden party follows with food and drinks. The night closes with a big party with family and friends performances and usually a guest signer or band. I am a fan of Bollywood music and dancing. I feel Indians are the Africans of Asia they have their own “swag” and style at dancing. They also drink too much!!! The last day is the main ceremony. More details about the last day you will read below. One thing they told me is that Indians are not following the time schedule, they are usually one hour late, and that was the case at the wedding. We spent all three days at the hotel but Goa has very nice beaches with beach huts, where you should go if you ever visit Goa.
Indians like to exaggerate in everything, fashion, dancing, drinking, and also spending tones of money to their weddings. An Indian wedding needs a lot of preparation and organization to make it spectacular. Everything is paid for the guests. By spending so much for their wedding, they show their superiority to their friends and family and also to the friends and family of their spouse. Moreover, having foreigners invited, increases the prestige of the wedding. As for the wedding presents, they accept personal presents or money, but I was told that is better to avoid money at rich weddings, because it is kind of insult.
Indian wedding costumes are masterpieces. Exaggeration at its best. Long shirts -kurtas- and coats -sherwani-, long dresses -sarees and lehenga- and long shirts with pantaloons -shalwar kameez- covered in embroidery and precious embellishments studded into the collars and the cuffs. Women wear gold jewelry headpieces, gold big earrings and chain rings.
The food was abundant all three days. Long food buffets with plenty of variety of Indian food, sweets and drinks. A friend I met at the wedding told me that Indian food burns twice and when you eat it and when you go to stool, and its so true :P. However, I love Indian food!! There were so many saucy foods I liked, I couldn’t hold their names. Every morning I had for breakfast dosa, indian pancake with potato and spices and coconut sauce. I have also distinguished naan bread with butter, sugar cane juice, their chai (tea) with saffron roots, kulfi ice-cream and the dessert gulab jamun, a milk-solid-based sweet, moulded into balls.
The second day started with a wedding ritual where the bride’s family accepts the groom. Then a big party was set up at the gardens of the hotel. A stage with two female djs, who were very good, a bar serving drinks and the traditional mimosa, and a huge Indian food buffet. Moreover, there were small kiosks with food and drinks like sugar cane juice, coconut water, chai, dosa, wines, meat and cheese platters etc. There were ladies making henna to the single ladies of the party. We danced till the sun dropped in the sea. It was amazing!!! We then returned to our rooms and got ready for the party. The party was in a bigger room this time.
Every one was dressed glam. The opening of the party started with family and friends performances followed by the couple’s performance. The party continued with the performance of Sanam, a popular indian band with million views in YouTube. Everyone in the room went crazy. At the hall, there was a huge buffet with starters, main meals, desserts and drinks. Here i tried a starter, i believe, which was a wrapped leaf and inside there were sweet herbs. Don’t try it if you ever go to India :p. The night ended at 5 am with a dj. Such a great party!!!
The third and the final day is the actual ceremony. This day alcohol and partying is not allowed. Three stages and a lot of food kiosks were set up at the gardens of the hotel. The ceremony starts with the groom surrounded with family and friends, heading towards the event, playing music and singing. The tradition says that as loud as the groom “side” is, shows his supremacy and it is more possible for bride’s relatives to accept the groom who are waiting at the gate of the entrance of the wedding event. After “accepting” the groom and welcomed him to the event, everyone moved to a small stage assembled on the beach, where the bride has emerged from the stage dressed with a red shinning dress weighting aroung 4-5 kgs. This is the time where groom and bride meet “officially”. The couple goes to the bigger stage where all guests are congratulating them. When the congratulations end, the couple leaves to get prepared for the main ceremony. We had dinner from the food kiosks build opposite the main stage, and we were waiting for the ceremony to start.
Did you know that astrology plays a significant role in an Indian wedding? When Indian parents are looking for the other half of their kid, besides money, they consider astrology. Astrology can show if a couple colan be together according to the date, time and the location of birth. Moreover, the time, day and the nature of an Indian wedding is also affected by astrology.
In this wedding the ceremony had to start at 12:00 pm. It took place to the same room where the second party took place. A small kiosk was put up on a stage and guests sat around it. Opposite the kiosk, the ceremony singers were sitting and chanting. The couple with their parents were under the kiosk. The ceremony started with the farewell of the bride from her family. Then a fire was lighted up in the center of the kiosk and the couple had to make 7 circles around the fire. Each circle symbolizes promises and vows of the couple that will stay together and they will not be affected by any temptation. The ceremony finished around 2 am and we went to sleep. The next day we woke up and got ready for our flight to Delhi.
I am waiting for your comments on your thoughts about my Goa experience. I’d love to hear your experience in an Indian wedding and stay tuned for my posts about Delhi (Taj Mahal and Old Delhi) and Mumbai 🙂 .