Monday, March 19, 2007

Indian Weddings are Cool!

This year is shaping up to be the year of the wedding for me. Two so far, and at least two coming up this summer.

My friend and coworker, Adil, just got married and I was invited! It was my first Indian wedding. He and his wife, Zenita, were kind enough to include me in many of the activities that comprise the event. This included a Pithi for each of the bride and groom, the wedding, and the reception.

The brides Pithi might be viewed as the Indian equivalent of the caucasian shower - but its much cooler. A very large group of friends and family gathered to enjoy some delicious Indian food, get some Mendhi done, and offering gifts and prayers. The prayer part involved each person individually approaching Zenita, placing a sweet (smarties, if you can believe it) in her mouth and putting a fragrant paste on her body. The smarties fondly reminded me of my Aunt Keli. I knew only Zenita, yet I spent the whole night engaged in conversation with various friends and family of the bride. I was touched by how welcoming everyone was.
The grooms Pithi doesn't really have a caucasian equivalent (that I'm aware of). Again, it involved a large group of friends and family and the prayer and gift process. At the start, the prayer process looked much the same as the brides, with the smarties and the fragrant paste, except that Adil was conspicuously wearing a white shirt and track pants (in contrast to the fancy and more traditional looking attire worn by Zenita for her Pithi) and the floor was covered with tarps. After Adil's family and most of his friends had blessed him, it was the groomsmens' (and other close friends) turn. It was at this time that it became apparent why Adil was dressed differently and why the tarp was necessary. In place of smarties and paste, this group drew on a wider variety of materials to wish Adil well, including ketchup, mustard, flour, and eggs. Entertaining to say the least. Women are so much more civilized. Adil's Pithi was followed by another ceremony and then by a huge amount of delicious Indian food. I was again amazed by how welcome I felt at the event. Despite the fact that there was close to 500 people in attendance, Adil's mother went out of her way to ensure we felt welcome and understood what each of the ceremonies was about.
The wedding ceremony took place at an Ismaili Temple. I wore a skirt, only to discover that shoes were not to be worn inside and everyone had to sit on the floor. I should have done my research. I don’t think I have sat on the floor like that since grade school; I'm really out of practice. The ceremony itself was surprisingly formal. It is interesting to see how different religions address unions. When the formalities were finished, we ate some delicious Indian food.
Later that evening was the last of the events. There were a few more traditional ceremonies, which were followed by a fashion show, and some delicious Indian food. All in all, a great experience. My key lesson from the event is that I need to make more Indian friends. Indian weddings are great! Thanks Zenita and Adil.


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