Indian Wedding

(the elegant couple, at the start of the ceremony)

(We were ushered to meet the bride and her best girlfriends -- within the first 10 minutes of our visit with the family. Each sister, cousin and friend was more beautiful and outgoing than the last.)

While temple hopping in Belur and Halibeedu, I wandered hopelessly trying to find a bathroom (this is a 4 times/day event here with me, all those abstract directions are a drag when a girls got to go!)… and a lively gentleman showed me the way. While I was taking care of business, he was talking to Dave and it turned out there was a “small” wedding (only 600 people) happening in a few hours at the big hall near the temple. We were invited to the wedding and his whole family would not take no for an answer.

The bride and groom and all their bountiful families live in Bangalore, about 4 hours drive away from the countryside site. Prahkyat, the most darling 14 year old boy, and his father were eager to inform us, had the wedding been in Bangalore, there would have been at least 2,000 people. Holy smokes! We were both invited into the Bridal area to see the gorgeous bride and all her lady friends. I cannot remember her name, as we were introduced to about 30 people, but she was so stunning, calm and happy – all of the girls eager to talk to us and grill us for what we knew about Indian weddings. We knew nothing, other than what a few films had shown us, here and there, so it was a fantastic learning experience. All the girls were a –twitter when we showed them our wedding photo and explained that this trip was, in fact, our honeymoon. That really sent them over the top – “why India?!” and “What have you seen so far?” and “have you been to an Indian wedding?!!” This was the absolute best part of the day…

Later, we were seated front row for the ceremony, which involves many intricate rituals, tying threads, sacred strings, flower garlands and white sheets. I’m not entirely sure what was going on but there was a priest and the bride and groom looked very happy. We were told this is a “love marriage” not an “arranged marriage,” so maybe this accounted somewhat for the couples beautiful smiles and happy eyes. After about an hour, the blessings started. This means 600 people go on the stage and pour 3 little splashes of milk on the couples’ hands, throw rice at each of their heads 3 times and say a blessing for their marriage. It was insisted that we participate in this part of the wedding and it was a very beautiful act. I loved how the entire community gets to be a part of the ceremony – the air was so heavy with excitement, laughter, incense and family. The family was so open to us and generous with their day – I was completely touched and smiling almost as much as at our wedding. It was a day of days!

(The lovely pair of cousins, who explained every ritual as it occurred during the ceremony -- so informative and jolly these girls were!)

(the wedding site was in a large hall, next door to a teeny temple -- there were lively paintings on the wall, at each side of the stage.)

(The stage where the ceremony and blessings occurred. The main light was put out by the hardcore video camera, which was going the entire time and featured Dave and I prominently.)

(Family members throwing colored rice at the new couple.)

(Last, but not least, the sweet band, jamming away for the epic wedding.)


  1. Here's the plan. You HAVE to is killer. You and Dave hire yourselves out as traveling Westerners for wedding ornamentation. You can be busy every can also invent some bizarre western rap ritual that becomes part of the culture and highly in demand. NO WEDDING IS COMPLETE WITHOUT DAVE AND LEELA!!!!! Think of it. It can really take off!!!!

  2. Carol in MassachusettsOctober 14, 2009 at 2:24 PM

    Why the rice?
    When I went to a coworker's wedding last year in Delhi the groom's grandfather told me that it was because rice starts to grow in one place and then is transplanted to a new place to continue growing. Now also the bride and groom will move to a new place to continue growing.

    Leela, thank you for reminding me of my experience. I was the only American at the wedding and had an amazing time.