With this post (and others moving forward), I’m going to try something different and incorporate a new face. The digital me — Bitmoji Profit (should I call him Money Jr.?) He’ll be a guide in this online space and constant mental reminder for me to keep things fun. Many people in my life use Bitmoji, so welcome to my world and I hope you’ll play along. You’ll see him here (as long as Snapchat doesn’t go out of business) as I develop on this journey. For starters with this couple — Jasmine and Nitin.
This couple is one of my favorite in Minnesota. They work, study, and live here, but don’t claim MN as their state just yet. Both of them met in Virginia and I’m secretly plotting a way to get them to stay here for good on my nights and weekends. Before the summer began, we met up at Penny’s to chat love and check-in with each other. I wanted to know how planning their wedding was going. A batch of engagement photos was left on their list, so once schedules aligned, we were able to reconnect on Saturday, August 3 at Minnehaha Falls and Boom Island to shoot and put some memories in our pockets. We had the schedules and time down, but the weather wasn’t something we could exactly pin down.
As soon as we got to our location, we got rained out for 30 minutes. Jasmine and Nitin were super humble and accommodating with the whole experience. Their patience as we waited through the rain eventually led to fun moments that I believe were worth the wait.
After our session, we grabbed a family-sized meal at Conga Latin Bistro and I had the opportunity to learn more about what actually takes place at a traditional Indian wedding. My Nigerian heritage, when compared to living in America, allows me to experience weddings that trade suits and wedding dresses for the most elegant of cultural garb. I wanted to know a few things I could expect or see when I attend one in the future, so I had Jasmine and Nitin explain it for me. By no means is this exhaustive.
Before the Ceremony
- Different people in different parts of India do things differently.
- To begin, the bride and groom get their cleansing ceremony done together or separately with their respective families in their homes.
- A cleansing paste is made with turmeric and rose water. Once it’s complete, family members take a scoop of that paste and place it on the bride and groom’s bodies.
- The reason behind this ceremony serves as a symbol of blessing, purification of the heart and soul, and curbs any pre-wedding jitters.
- The bride gets henna placed on her body in the form of an intricate (or simple) design. This can take up to 6 to 8 hours.
- Sengeet: By this time, the henna should be complete. The bride’s design is more intricate than the groom’s as he might only need to get his bride’s name placed on her body. The bride and groom, family, friends, and some wedding guests are invited to mingle and enjoy a meal. During this party, the bride and groom’s close friends and relatives perform traditional dances for the couple. Mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters will be invited to dance and celebrate with each other.
- On the morning of the wedding, each family will complete prayers in preparation and blessing of the ceremony.
- Bengals will be placed on the bride’s forearms. After the couple is married, similar to the tossing of the bouquet in the Western tradition, all of the single women at the wedding sit in a line and the bride tries to break the tiny strings attached to each Bengal so they drop over someone’s lap. The woman that the attachment broke over is said to get married next. The fun fact here is Jasmine caught this a month before Nitin proposed in June of 2018 (she has a fun video to remember it by). If I’m lucky, she’ll maybe let me include it as a gift in this post someday.
The Wedding Ceremony
- The ceremony begins with the groom’s arrival. He arrives at the ceremony on a decorated white horse, surrounded by singing and dancing family members and friends. Once he gets off of the horse, he is greeted by the bride’s parents (somewhere outside of the ceremony hall) and family and is presented with gifts.
- A meeting of the males in the families takes place and floral garlands are exchanged. Fathers, brothers, uncles, will meet and place these garlands on one another to show respect and receive one another.
- The bride’s side of the wedding party, while the groom's feet are being washed (because no shoes are allowed on the alter) will try to steal his shoes. It could be the bride’s sister for example. If she succeeds, the groom must pay a fine to get them back. Bidding can start anywhere from a nominal amount to a significant chunk of change that holds some real value.
- Just like any other celebration, there’s sure to be great drinks, food, laughter, and fun.
- A few cultural dances will definitely break out.
- You’ll definitely hear your favorite top 100 song that’s on the radio (if your DJ is doing his or her job right).
Putting tradition aside for a moment, I know these two love each other with the entirety and fullness of their hearts. From where I stand, I wish them well and hope their wedding day is everything they plan for and more.
Again, please note that these points listed here are not one-for-one. Different parts of India enact their traditions and ceremonies differently. Customs also change according to individual families and the circumstances presented to their specific way of life, beliefs, and religion. Wherever you are in your experience of life, I hope this can help you know what to expect in your fortune of attending one of these extravagant celebrations.
Have a comment to add or insight to share? Email me.
Thanks for reading INKpixels. Visuals translated through the pen with excerpts from Urbane Aperture.
Originally published at https://urbaneaperture.com on August 31, 2019.