Thursday, October 10, 2013

Whirlwind India Trip

I recently spent a week in Bhopal, India to attend a special post wedding reception for my daughter and son-in-law. To say it was a whirlwind is an understatement. A wedding for 200 people in the US and then a wedding reception in India for 100 more inside of a week is a once in a lifetime experience. Colorful, chaotic and humbling, both the wedding and India presented themselves as a joyful celebration of life in all it's beautiful messy adventure. Here are some of the colorful highlights from my week in India.

Pre-trip Preperations:
Since we would not have much time in India, we had to purchase our special wedding reception garments before we left. We checked out several shops in Jackson Heights, NY but ended up buying our saris at a store called Lavanya. Here is the fabric I picked out to have my sari made up.
When we arrived in India there were several special events including a special ceremony welcoming my daughter into the home of her husband's family (his grandparents home). We were greeted a block away by a music truck and a small band of muscians who escorted our cars to the house. The house was decorated with lights and flowers, and my daughter had to walk barefoot over the threshold knocking over a small urn of salt and then into a large platter of red colored water surrounded by flower petals. (Since this happened at night and I was part of the procession, I was not able to take pictures). We were all greeted with flower garlands which were beautiful and smelled wonderful.

Our next visit to the house was for henna tattoos, which are traditional for the bridal party. The henna is in small plastic bags that are like icing bags you'd use to decorate a cake. There were three artists working that night, two for the bride who had her hands, forearms, legs (below the knee) and tops of her feet done, and the other one worked on decorating the rest of us. Here is a picture of me going through the process, which is about a half hour long for the both sides of my hands.

Then there is the hour or two to let it dry completely and you can start to brush off the dried henna.

We were advised to put on mustard oil or vicks vaporub (we went with the vicks back at the hotel) to let the henna set in and darken overnight. I covered my hands with cotton socks to keep from getting vicks and henna all over myself and the bedsheets. It is an amazing process. The artist work freehand, and quickly.

That brings me to the big event, the official reception held at the Marriott in Bhopal. The bride and groom were seated in throne like chairs on a dais, and guest walked up to meet them and there were refreshments. I spent most of my time with the grooms mother, since neither of us spoke hindi and most of the guests (I assume) did not speak fluent english. We had the chance to speak with many of the guests who did speak english, and it was a beautiful event. Here is a photo of the whole family up on the dais, all decked out for the event.

Next Installment: Shopping in Bhopal

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