|Robert and Neha got married on Saturday 25th July 2015. The day before the wedding we’d had henna done followed by great family meal at Neha’s parents apartment.
In this post I shall only write about the Wedding, aka main event and not any pre-marriage customs, rituals or traditions. I will write what I witnessed and my interpretation as a someone who has never attended a Hindu wedding and who doesn’t speak Hindi. So please forgive any misinterpretations or misunderstandings.
The invite had said an 8pm start. But when Robert, Michael and I hadn’t been picked up from the Guest House at 8pm Robert was understandably anxious. He was dressed in his fabulous outfit (see photos below) pacing back and forth.
I explained to Robert the concept of Indian time. Indian time means that for social events Indians are loose with their time keeping, so always arrive after the official start time. I explained to Robert that his and Neha’s Wedding invite had said it was due to start at 8pm, so most of the guests would probably arrive for 9:30-10pm.
But by the time 10pm had come and gone, even I was starting to get worried. Luckily, shortly afterwards one of Neha’s brother-in-law’s turned up. The brother-in-law explained that Hindu’s only get married on certain dates dictated by astrology.
Indian weddings the brother-in-law explained are big affairs, with around 300 guests on each side. Therefore Delhi’s already congested roads were practically grid locked with everyone trying to get to Hindu weddings at the same time. He added that a rain shower had also delayed the start of the wedding as the Hindu ceremony involves a fire outside.
After a short car journey, we arrived at the wedding venue the Marigold Banquet Hall. We were met by a camera man and photographer, who would continue to take video footage and photos throughout the night. Robert with Michael, myself and some of Neha’s borrowed family members behind him were welcomed at the threshold of the Banquet Hall by Neha’s mother and father.
Once over the threshold Robert, Michael and I were directed to a stage. Then Robert received greetings into the family, introduction to family members and envelopes with money in – which apparently is the traditional Hindu wedding gift. While all this is going on Robert was waiting for his bride.
Neha walked into the room and all eyes turned to her. She lit up the room, which you’d have thought impossible to do at a colourful Indian wedding. She looked stunning and incredibly beautiful (see photos below). As she walked towards the stage, music playing in the background, I thought: Robert is a very lucky man.
Once Neha reached the stage, Robert greeted her. They posed for many, many photos. They were photographed together and then with immediate and extended family members. While this was going on, food was available for extended family to get as they wanted. Then there was some dancing. Indian’s know how to party and without the aid of alcohol.
Then the immediate and close family came together around a big centre table for a family meal. The food was truly scrumptious food. The company was great, I met many fascinating family members.
By this point I’d realised two things. Firstly that I get a little anxiety about meeting and interacting with large groups of new people. Hence the cigarette breaks. Secondly that my shoes were more about show and style than comfort. The shoes were already doing a great job of shredding my feet.
Here are some photos from this part of the wedding:
After food was a traditional Hindu marriage ceremony, which took place outside. Neha had been up at 4am that day, gone to a local template and undertaken some pre-marriage rituals. The ceremony started with the Archaka and Neha’s parents. Then Robert joined them and after a short time Neha joined the trio. I didn’t take any photos of the ceremony, as I would have felt rude to do.
I felt honoured and privileged to be invited to share Robert & Neha’s special evening and for being allowed to witness the beautiful Hindu marriage ceremony. I can’t thank them enough for their friendship and love. It is something I hugely appreciate.
The ceremony was completely in Hindi and Neha’s sisters kindly took it in turns to translate for Robert. The ceremony was approximately an hour and a half (which had been shortened) with family members, Michael and I sitting to watch. During the ceremony Robert made seven vows to Neha, which were:
The Seven Vows made by Indian Grooms to Their Wives
1. In the first vow, the groom makes a vow to his bride that he will, for his part, provide the money and means to run a happy household and family. He also promises to avoid any of the things that were likely to harm his wife and family.
2. The second vow that the groom makes to his bride is to remain committed to her forever. He promises he will love her forever and provide courage and strength.
3. The groom then makes the third vow to his prospective wife, and in this vow he prays to God and asks that the be blessed with prosperity, wealth and the ability and means to take care of their children, educate them and look after all their needs.
4. The fourth vow has the groom thanking his bride. He thanks her for bringing love, happiness, auspiciousness and sacredness in his life. He thanks for all the good things she brings to his life.
5. The couple then prays together in the fifth vow. They pray to Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, to grant them with prosperity and her blessings for the rest of their lives.
6. The groom makes the sixth vow to his wife, and promises that he will keep her happy forever. He also tells her that he promises to make her joyful and provide her with peace time and time again.
7. Finally, only the seventh vow remains, and the groom now tells the wife that with this last vow and walk around the fire, our relationship is firm and we’re inseparable. He also tells his wife that now you are mine forever and I am yours and may we live happily together.
(From: BollywoodShaddis.com, Last Accessed: Friday 7th August 2015)
The ceremony ended with Neha’s head dress tied to a scarf given to Robert. Probably symbolising this last promise, being inseparable forever.
The ceremony ended in the early hours on the morning, by this point I was exhausted. While we waited for taxis to the final event of the evening Neha’s father explained that Hindu’s worship the sun. That fire is the purest of all the elements as it has the ability to give life through growing of crops, but also the ability to destroy life too. I didn’t realise this at the time, but the sun would become a permanent symbol of my adventure in India.
The final event was at Neha’s parent’s apartment. The women of the family blessed the couple, some gave more envelopes with gifts of money and then waved them off. Here’s some photos of the wave off:
Neha, Robert, Michael and I then headed home to the Guest House where I slept exceptionally well.
The Wedding was an exceptionally good time. Everything was about love, kindness and hope for the future. Which is exactly what a wedding should be about. I wish them many happy and healthy years together.
I have deliberately excluded photos of the family and extended family in this blog post, as I haven’t asked their permission to post the photos of them here.
In the next blog post of the series titled My India Adventure (Part 3) – Shopping, it will be all about how I got on shopping in Delhi. Keep checking back for updates as it will be published soon.