Monday, January 09, 2006
Shaadi Rajastani Style
Greetings after yet another beautiful region of India we've visited!! Well, after chilling out in Ahemdabad, we had an action packed 10 days or so...we went to Mumbai for a few days and rung in the New Year with my best friend Shilpa. And then we were busy with our friends Nehal and Ritu's wedding...it started with a mehindi party in Mumbai that included an entertaining live Qawali (music group that sing urdu ghazals/songs) and then as in the traditional Hindu wedding style, we left with the "jaan" (the entire grooms side) on a train from Mumbai to Jaipur. Try to imagine, over a 100 people, on a 18 hour train ride, taking up almost 2-3 compartments of the train, eating, singing and dancing as we make our way to the brides home city. We were greeted at the Jaipur train station, with garlands (I felt like a celebrity, until I realized all 100 people of our party had garlands on) and we were fed a humungous lunch. Afterwards, there was a Sangeet party, with dances, music and of course a ton more food. There are a bunch of open stalls, and you can go and eat buffet style, whatever you feel like. The next day, we had a precious 2 hours of shopping before the wedding..so, we had some amazing homemade thick lassi (kind of sweet thick yogurt drink) in disposable clay cups and set off to shop. You know, it's funny because I've basically just been shopping with Tarak..and even so, we always get more than we anticipitated. BUT, when there are 2 or 3 more Indian girls with me..that's a definite force that can't be stopped...for instance, we hit this jewelry store (don't worry it wasn't real, but it was fun costume and Rajasthani jewelry), and I swear in about 30 minutes, we basically depleted this man of most of his merchandise. Anyway, Jaipur is known for beautiful handicrafts, jewelry and "bandini" (which is tye-die..not to be confused with the cheezy tie-die shirts back home) saris-so, we had to take advantage of that.
After a few hours of action packed shopping, we headed off with the jaan, to start the wedding. The "baarath" (grooms side) basically dances their way to meet the brides family...our friend Nehal, was actually on a massive, decorated elephant and was all decked out in traditional Rajput gear (Rajasthani warrior including a sword..look closely in the pictures) and was even carrying his little 4 month nephew, Ayush (absolutely adorable, and was dressed in an identical outfit to that of the groom. Nehal's close friends, accompanied him on camels and horses as the rest of us danced beside them (of course closely avoiding the land mines of the animals made in the process) to where finally the brides side, where we all entered the wedding hall and the ceremony took place. It was a blast! The whole wedding took place at Chawki Dhani which was a secluded place that was made in the form of a traditional village that had stalls of food, elephant/camel rides, traditional Rajasthani dancing and much more. And then of course, we ate a Rajasthani thali and stayed until it was time to bid the bride farewell from her family and to be welcomed by her new home. The only thing that was bad...was that it was FREAKIN' cold..now, I know after living in Houston we don't really have real cold..but damn, all of the aunties weren't kidding when they said, the cold of Rajasthan goes straight to your bones. Of course, being in exceedingly thin chiffon saris, with exposed midriffs and cute open toed shoes doesn't do jack for warmth. The night ended with a ton of fireworks lighting the sky (isn't that nuts?? You would think it was some big show in the states). If there is only one thing I can imprint on your minds about an Indian wedding, let it be the food...we ate it seemed like, CONSTANTLY...when you were hungry, when you're not so hungry, and of course, all of the aggressive pushy food auntie's favorite, when you are EXCEEDINGLY full and feel like you might burst.
Anyway, overall it was awesome seeing a bunch of our friends that we hadn't seen in like 7 months, making some new friends, and getting to be a part of a true rajasthani shaadi!!
Oh ya, we wanted to put more pictures on the site but our internet connection was soooo slow. However, we did manage to get some pics uploaded to the Our Trip Photos link.