Along the Away

a traveler's tales

Following on from my previous posts Indian Fantasy #1: Attend an Indian wedding and Indian Make-over: Sari Buying, comes the final in this trilogy – The Wedding. Yes, the wedding reception that has been dominating all conversations and shopping trips this past week. As a colleague joked, “I expect to see the event reported in the Bangalore Times tomorrow – ‘Australian’s steal limelight at Bangalore wedding of the year’. Well yes, maybe our preparations were comparable to those of the bride herself, but we are talking about Indian Fantasy #1 here; ie A Big Deal.

Anyway, following sari material shopping on Monday night, a trip to the tailor Tuesday night and accessory shopping Wednesday night, our (their) big day arrived! We were quick to get home after work and start the preparations. Equipped with a ‘How to wrap a sari’ YouTube video and what Alicia remembered from a quick tutorial with a colleague at Janaagraha we attempted the Great Wrap ourselves. We didn’t look too bad… maybe a little crumpled… and a little puffy… was that how it was supposed to look? We trooped down the stairs (not easy in a badly wrapped sari by the way) and presented ourselves to Mrs Singh. After she recognised us (two white girls in sari’s would confuse anyone) and had a chuckle, she examined what we’d tried to do and then unwrapped us and masterfully put us back together the right way. The interesting – and tricky – part of the sari is the pleating. It’s not really noticeable that it’s there, but the success of the sari is all in the details! I have to admit, the sari’s looked fabulous when Mrs Singh was done (for the record, no, crumpled and puffy is not how it’s meant to look). Indian makeover complete!

All wrapped up and ready to go; Alicia, Mrs Singh and myself.

We travelled to the wedding with Mrs Singh and her family, Alicia and I were lucky enough to travel in Mrs Singh’s old vintage car – very cool! At the Jayamahal Palace hotel we drove in through the gates and up the drive which was lit on each side with lots of fairy lights; the fairytale vibe continued as we stepped out of the car and onto a red carpet leading onto the palace lawn. On one side of the carpet a loud, energetic band were drumming away and setting the scene. On the other side, waiters with trays of nibblies and drinks indicated the way – it was an amazing welcome!

A warm welcome :)

We walked through to the lawn where tables were scattered around under massive trees from which sparkling fairy lights were hanging down – it was magical!

There was a big stage adorned with flowers and lights, and when the bride and groom arrived, they stood there to receive the best wishes from their guests. Alicia and I were employed to help out by standing on the stage behind the bride and groom and took the presents and flowers that were handed to them – it was partly thrilling to be in the middle of the action, and partly unnerving to realise that in most of the photos with their guests the bride and groom now have two white girls in sari’s standing in the background – not sure how they’ll feel about that!

Helping out on stage.

When Mrs Singh, her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren Kartini and Varun went on stage to greet the couple and have a photo with them we were included! The groom had to blink a few times to recognise our sari-selves, and although I hadn’t met the bride before, I was excited to say hi and tell her I loved her beautifully henna-ed hands.

The guests congratulate the bride and groom on the stage.

Following this we joined the line of the buffet and loaded up our plates with delicious Indian food and sat with ‘our Indian family’ at a table under the fairy light trees.

One of the best aspects of the night was checking out the fashion of the other guests; I was steered clear of purchasing a bling bling sari (and to be fair, I am grateful as I love the one I bought) but there were plenty of sparkly, glitzy ones to admire, and the colours were amazing! The guys in traditional clothing (like the sherwani) also looked fabulous.

The wedding was of the Muslim faith, and for an arranged marriage; we were also told that it was on the grander scale of weddings, not all in India would be so big. As well as the band and the red carpet, there were also fire works when the bride and groom arrived – wowsers!

Before leaving we were encouraged to try the pan for the first time by Mrs Singh’s daughter. She explained that it is traditionally put in the mouth and chewed after a meal to cleanse the palette and aid digestion. We had the sweet variety, which consists of a Betel leaf with a layer of lime paste, candied fennel seeds and sugar and then folded up to be put inside the cheek and chewed. It was quite different from anything I have had before, I can’t say I really enjoyed it – perhaps it is an acquired taste!

Then it was time to go home! It was a great night and full of new sights and sounds, plus we got to meet lots of lovely new people – AND we got to wear a sari which was really comfortable and feels so lovely and feminine to wear. But now, definitely on the hunt for another occasion to wear it…

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Sydney based, coastal dwelling. When I'm not at work I'm somewhere outdoors, or in the yoga studio, or at my local cafe, or pottering at home.

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