I’m well aware that my trip to India was last December, but I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t recap the trip for my own memories! So here we are again.
When we last left off (part 1), I told you about my first two days in India. And now it’s time to recap the entire purpose of flying halfway across the world…my friend’s wedding! It’s important to first understand Indian weddings. They are not single-day events that we’re accustomed to in the United States (and even some parts of Europe). Indian weddings are typically 3 days in length and feature a variety of intricate traditions, ceremonies, and events. Oh, and did I mention they are absolutely beautiful?
While there are many smaller rituals accompanying the wedding, my fellow natives told me that the main events are:
* Pithi: a pre-wedding ritual where the bride and groom apply a tumeric-chickpea flour paste onto their skin for good luck
* Mehndi: a pre-wedding ritual focusing on the application of henna for female guests, although men are welcome to join as well
* Sangeet: an event the day before the wedding ceremony, often on the same day as the mehndi; features food, performances by the bride and groom’s wedding party, and dancing
* Ceremony: the groom arrives on a white horse during an event called the baraat, and then the ceremony itself lasts a few hours, during which time the bride and groom exchange floral garments and walk around the fire holding hands (known as the agni), among other rituals
* Reception: the post-ceremony celebration, and perhaps the most “traditional” event in terms of what us westerners are used to
The Pithi took place before I even arrived to India, so I sadly missed it. The bride and groom combined the Mehndi + Sangeet into one day and the ceremony + reception into a second day, so the first day started bright and early. We were staying at a friend’s house the first few days, and we got to move into a lovely hotel for the wedding. It was so luxurious, and we were greeted with a necklace and a traditional bindi upon check-in.
My friends and I were all so worried about our outfits because we were not at all familiar with Indian fashion, but I’d like to believe that we blended right in! The weather was perfect for the outdoor Mehndi festivities.
I find henna (mehndi) to be absolutely stunning and I couldn’t wait to get my own.
The talented woman drew elaborate designs on my palms, and I kept returning to add more patterns onto my hands and fingers.
The final product was stunning! The paste takes a few hours to dry and eventually slowly falls off, leaving behind the pattern in a gorgeous orange that stains the skin for a few weeks.
The bridesmaids and I left the Mehndi early in order to practice our dance for the Sangeet that evening. That’s right, bridesmaids (and groomsmen) traditionally perform dances during the Sangeet, and we were no exception! I was so so so nervous because I didn’t get to practice with all the other girls since I don’t live in Chicago, and I couldn’t relax until it was our turn.
There were a few hiccups during our dance (I refuse to post the video here!) but it was overall successful and everyone seemed to love it! And then I grabbed a celebratory drink and finally eased into the celebration with others.
What a party! There’s nothing quite like celebrating the love of your closest friends…with your best friends…in an incredible country!
Our night ended early in the morning (haha), and we had to be up again a few hours later in order to prepare for the wedding ceremony.
We got our hair and makeup done, and quickly dressed up in our matching bridesmaid saris.
Stunning right?!? Just look at my gorgeous friends!
Indian wedding ceremonies are long, elaborate, and absolutely beautiful. We didn’t understand much of the happenings but enjoyed watching the many rituals.
We stuck around for the entire 4-hour event and loved the intricacies and significance of each action.
So much love, such decadence and color, sigh take me back!
We were all exhausted after the ceremony and took a quick nap before dressing up for the evening reception.
I felt most underdressed for this event, but my stunning burgundy sari quickly became my favorite outfit of the entire wedding. Given that it was a Sunday, the reception was fairly mellow and not nearly as wild as the Sangeet (which was probably for the best).
I didn’t post many photos of the bride out of respect and privacy, but take my word that she looked absolutely stunning. She had a different dress on for each event, and I basically couldn’t stop staring at her (so not creepy…).
And then the wedding was over 🙁 Once again we barely slept because we had to be up early for our next big adventure the following morning – the Taj Mahal!
The bumpy bus ride took over 4 hours but my goodness it was so worth it. Obviously.
I mean…I would travel days just to see this wonder.
We explored the grounds for a few hours and quickly toured the inside before plopping down on the ground and simply observing the wondrous architecture around us.
I feel so lucky to have visited this wonder of the world. And then we were off again! The trip back home felt significantly longer, but it was made better with a stop into McDonald’s.
I know what you’re thinking…what the hell?!? I never eat McDonald’s but the sandwiches in India were delicious, trust me. This McSpicy chicken sandwich was so good, I wish they would sell it in the states!
And then our time in New Delhi came to a close. Up next: Goa!