I was excitedly hopping around the house when I received my good friend’s wedding invitation. It wasn’t only because one of my good friends was getting married, but also (and maybe even mostly — but don’t tell him) because this wedding would take place in my beloved India. I planned a short trip around the main event to cities such as Kozhikode and Thalassery, but now it’s finally time to take you along with me for the three-day madness that is an Indian Hindu wedding
Before I start telling you all about my experiences, I feel I should let you know which format I chose to tell the story in. Sometimes I research the places I visit afterwards and I write a bit more background information in my blog posts for you guys. This time I’m not doing any research, because I’m sure I’ll drown in information about the different Hindu ceremonies and rituals. I think this post should be completely about my friend’s wedding and my experiences on the days of the wedding.
The preparations for the wedding started which much ado about what I should wear during the festivities. My friend advised me that I could wear a kurta for the day before the wedding, but that I should wear a saree for the actual event. I couldn’t agree more, I’ve always wanted to wear a saree, and what better occasion than a wedding party? I bought mine during the brief stay in Kozhikode. Most shops have seamstresses on the premises who can make the saree fit to your body perfectly in less than an hour. One main request was to have a saree which covered my belly, but when I saw the beautiful orange colours of the saree they picked out for me I threw this request straight out the window.
The wedding celebrations would take place partly in Thalassery and partly in a town near Kannur. My friend’s family is from Thalassery and the bride’s family is from Kannur. The actual wedding would take place at the bride’s family’s house. Getting the houses ready for the events takes a lot of preparation! I was shocked to see all the hard work that went into making everything perfect for the ceremonies and for the guests. The decorations were like something I hadn’t seen before, the houses looked like they belonged in fairytale worlds. I’m not one to make this comparison, so this remark coming from me really means something.
When I think about the wedding days, the first thing I think and laugh about is the food. This was the first time I tried eating rice and curry with my hands and it took me a few tries until I managed to get some food into my mouth.
Food is a big part of the celebrations and lunch & dinner are served for most of the guests by both families.
At the groom’s house I tried Thalassery biryani. The main difference between Thalassery biryani and other biryanis is that it uses only a thin & short-grain rice. The dish does not use basmati rice like other biryanis. They do prefer to serve their water luke-warm so if you need to cool down, just hope there is some ice cream desert. We were lucky every time!
I’m used to seeing one or two professional photographers at weddings who try to stay in the background to take candid photos of the wedding guests. This is not how things are done in India. During the wedding ceremony the photographers had the best spots, they were standing all around the altar. This blocked the view for the other guests, but it did result in beautiful pictures (however, all the pictures in this post are taken by myself with my phone).
At the groom’s house there was a whole camera crew, including two men walking around with lights. This was hilarious because every time they wanted to take a picture of someone that person would stand in the lights like a deer in headlights. There’s nothing candid about their photos, but the lighting was perfect 🙂
The first time I met the bride was during one of the first ceremonies. The day before the wedding, the groom’s family travels to the bride’s house to give her the saree and accessories for the wedding day. The aformentioned camera crew directed this whole ceremony and took photos accordingly.
The wedding ceremony took place at the bride’s house as well. The previous day we travelled with cars, but since all the groom’s family members had to make their way to the house this time we travelled on rented buses.
The ceremony itself is difficult to follow due to the plethora of photographers at the front, but there are many rituals which are overseen by a priest. Afterwards, there was an opportunity to take photos with the happy couple.
The last ceremony I witnessed was the arrival of the bride at the groom’s house. Her family comes over for a few minutes to say goodbye to her. In the evening, there was singing and dancing at the groom’s house.
The main highlight for me was the friendliness with which we were received. Two foreigners invading a wedding were welcomed with open arms. The family members of both families tried to explain the ceremonies, steps, and customs to us. I felt incredibly welcome, and I’m super happy I attended the wedding! The married couple now live in Abu Dhabi and I wish them all the best!