My Friend Christy is getting married!

The wedding!   I normally come to India in December / January / February / March and was hoping to come in Jan / Feb this year, but my mother was trying to move house and it was not going smoothly.  So I postponed the trip until she had moved and was settled.  In the end she did not move until August and so I quickly arranged a short visit here.  After I had planned my itinerary and bought my tickets etc., I had an email from my friend Christy.  She said that she knew I came to India at the beginning of the year, but she was getting married in November and would I be able to come?  I looked at my itinerary and saw that on the 11th of November I would be in Batlagundu - the very place she would be getting married.  How fantastic was that?!?!?!

I thought I would buy her wedding presents in the UK and chose heart shaped dishes, plates and cake stand.  Thankfully they all got here unbroken!  The ceremony was due to start at 10.30 and I made sure I was early so I could see everything.  The hall was brightly decorated and there were lots of flowers. 



On the stage was a grand double throne and a band was playing. 



Many things were similar to our weddings - there was a photographer and a man videoing everything.  I could see garlands of flowers arriving and people got more and more excited (especially me!)  All the ladies were in their best saris and had their gold wedding jewellery on.  The men looked quite plain.

The bridegroom came onto the stage and bowed to everyone and had a big garland of flowers put around his neck and had his photo taken.  Then he had to sit and wait for his bride - she kept him waiting for 15 minutes!  When she came out she looked so beautiful, but was not smiling, infact neither of them smiled very much until the ceremony was over.  We had been given some yellow rice and flower petals and during the ceremony we threw them at the bride and groom - like confetti.  The groom put the thali (a necklace) around Christy’s neck - this is the same as our wedding ring, and they swapped garlands of flowers several times.





A silver ring was put on one of Christy’s toes.



Then the village elders blessed the couple, putting yellow and red paste onto Christy and Jehindra’s foreheads.  The elders received shawls from the bride’s parents.  Then everyone else queued up to go onto the stage, meet and congratulate the couple and to give their gifts.  Most people gave money, but I was glad I had taken presents.  Each set of people had their photos taken with the now smiling, couple and it was all being videoed.  After I had congratulated them, Christy’s mother gave me a shawl as well!  I have known the whole family for 20 years now, and I am honoured that they consider me part of their family.  So some of the sons and daughters I knew as children are now grown up, this made me feel very old.  Since I was here last year Christy’s brother had also married and now had a very small baby daughter.



 

After the photos we went to a room downstairs for the meal.  There were over six hundred people attending the wedding!  We sat at long tables which had paper tablecloths on them.  We were given a banana leaf and a bottle of water.  You pour a little water onto the leaf to wash it.  Then the food started to arrive - lots of men with pots, buckets and big ladles.  First of all you are given something sweet - a white paste tasting like condensed milk.  A flavoured rice and plain rice, several different vegetables, including beans, carrots and potatoes, fried vegetables, like crisps, a poppadom, something like coleslaw, onions in yogurt, a round fried crispy thing, sambal (lentil sauce) to go with the rice and a coconut chutney.  There was one other sauce, but I was told that it was VERY pungent (hot flavoured) so I didn’t try that.  We had washed our hands at the entrance of the food hall and so we tucked in. 



If you wanted more of anything you just asked a passing waiter and he yelled to someone who came running up with whatever it was.  Then my friend Mercy (the bride’s sister) saw us; she was telling the waiters to bring us more of everything!  I kept saying ‘Pordum, pordum!!!’  (‘Enough, enough!!!’)  and then ‘Ippi pordum’  (‘Enough now!’)  When you have finished you fold your banana leaf in half, so that stopped the waiters.  For sweet it was a sort of very sweet rice pudding with vermicelli, sultanas and cashew nuts.  I had had this before at a wedding, when it was also poured onto your banana leaf, so difficult to eat, but this was served in little paper cups. 



After the meal we washed our hands and went back upstairs to chat to everyone.  One guest offered us a lift home in his jeep, which I was pleased to accept, as many guests were going home in the backs of lorries!



A thoroughly lovely day - I am SO glad I was able to go!!!







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