India? Ok, why not!
When planning where to go in the world, I mostly let my gut feeling decide. If I hear mind blowing stories about a country, it will probably end up on my list. To be honest, India was not on my list. So many countries where I wanted to go and India wasn’t one of them.
But then came that email, an invitation of my high school girlfriend. She announced that she’s marrying her Indian boyfriend, first in Belgium and then in India. I smiled when I got the invitation, I knew immediately what was going to happen. I’m going to INDIA. At that moment I was in Australia and India was not in my ‘schedule’, I had to figure some stuff out, but when you have an opportunity like that, you grab it with both hands.
Trying to get as much out of my India trip as possible, my boyfriend and I planned an unforgettable motorbike trip before the wedding (more about that here: Monkey, elephants and a Royal Enfield). But we couldn’t get the wedding out of our heads.
Feeling like a movie star
The wedding was intense, two days of celebration, usually three, but the stars weren’t in the right position. So we had to be happy with two – which we were of course. It was an incredible, unforgettable and exhausting experience. Amazing, but so different than any European wedding.
First of all: everyone talks. The whole time. In Belgium we sit still and listen polite to what’s happening in front of the room/church, all the eyes on the bride and groom. In India it is the total opposite. A wedding is a perfect chance to reconnect with family and friends they haven’t seen in a while. And they don’t wait to catch up until after the (long) ceremony. So when someone is doing a ritual in Sanskrit in the front, they eat, walk in and out and talk. The dad of the groom even the loudest.
I also loved the rituals during the ceremony. It looks like one big, impressive play. The groom arrives at the house and has to ‘buy’ his wife-to-be from her sister – which was a funny situation, because the groom wasn’t prepared for this and had a mix of dollars, rupees and euros worth only 35 dollars in his pocket. Not enough for the sis of course 😉 Then he walks inside, with all the guests in his footsteps. Halfway during the ceremony the bride arrives in the room with leafs in front of her eyes, she has to walk a couple of times around her husband-to-be and can only then reveal her eyes.
From the beginning ’til end there are 2 video cameras and 3 photographers recording everything. I felt like on the set of a movie. Being with only 10 European people, we caught some attention too. For example: when we did the first steps on the dance floor, a second later the 2 camera’s and photographers were shooting it.
Related to that I had an awkward, funny moment during the ceremony. The groom and the dad of the bride were sitting in front with the priest and saying ritual verses to each other. Suddenly one of the photographers says to me: “you, you, go there, between them!” I had to go into the spotlights, crawl awkwardly behind them, sit on my knees and smile. Definitely my weirdest photo-bomb ever.
The traditional clothing, the fresh flowers, the colors, the henna and the sweet people made sure this wedding left quite an impression. I enjoyed it so much. Because it was so different than anything I’ve seen before, because I had a unique glimpse in an interesting and warm culture and because I saw the intense happiness on my friends’ face.