The decorations, the music, the bright colours, the family, it’s all part of an Indian wedding. Indian weddings in the UK are spectacular in their own right! For us at home, guest lists of 400 are huge. Now fly 400 miles across to India, and multiply our spectacular weddings by 100!
When one of my best mates announced his engagement and that his wedding was going to be in Ahmadabad, there was no second thought or hesitation, I was going to be there no matter what! A friend who I call a brother, in a city with such a vast history – how can you say no???
The week-long wedding happened in Ahmadabad, the capital of Gujarat. This was the first time I’d visited the city and I absolutely loved it. It’s considerably smaller than London but feels much bigger, partly because it’s much busier and more densely populated.
We stayed with my friend’s family in Bapunagar, near the airport. Bapunagar is on the edge of Ahmadabad, and is a small fairly undeveloped area with narrow bumpy dirty roads, houses with only a couple of bedrooms. The people here have such big hearts and show so much love to their guests that it may not be home, but feels just like you are home with your family. Getting into the city centre usually was an hour’s drive, and with 18 of us all staying in the house it was pretty cosy. The whole environment was out of my comfort zone, usually staying in hotels when there are so many people together. Within a day or so I felt like I was home with my own family, playing cards and sharing stories and laughs late into the night with eighteen other house guests.
Breakfast normally started out with the most amazing tea, with the aroma of fresh ginger and full of sugar to give you the perfect kick in the morning, accompanied by freshly cooked parathas and pickles. Mornings couldn’t get better than this.
Anyone travelling to India is told to be careful with what they eat and drink, avoid stalls and tap water. I’ve always been cautious on previous visits and always fallen ill, so this time I went with an open mind and decided I would rather enjoy the food and whatever happens, happens!
I’d recommend you follow some of the warnings and only drink bottled water (I followed this strictly!), and don’t eat anything from stalls unless its cooked in front of you. My sister’s weakness is pani puri from a stall, we took a chance and knocked a dozen or so back before stopping and turning to each other in fear of “THE WATER!” Luckily, it was a stall that uses mineral water for the water they dip these little pockets of heaven into.
My Advice here: Don’t risk it like we did, and always check what water they use. Alternatively, lots of good restaurants generally serve them and use mineral water and are much cleaner, so check them out.
The week running up to the wedding was manic. Every day we’d be up, showered and straight out the house after breakfast. We’d spend the day in the city bouncing from one shop to another, buying all the last minute outfits, getting last minute alterations done. It was a crazy week of shopping, with hardly a moment to stop and have lunch most days. We got carried away with all the shopping, picking up outfits to wear to the wedding and loads more to take home (now to find occasions to wear them…).
From the moment the marquee was propped up down the street, the wedding festivities kicked off! Indian weddings tend to be a week of celebrations, from a henna party, to a games night all running up to the main big day! Every day the house is full of relatives and neighbours singing songs, laughing, eating. The bright colours, the music the excitement runs through everyone’s veins.
The day before the wedding, there is a “Mandvo” and “Pithi” ceremony.
Mandvo: This ceremony is to seek the blessing from Mother Earth and signifies the start of putting up the mandap (Wooden canopy) as traditionally the mandap would be put up outside and the pillars would be footed in the ground.
Pithi: It is a paste made of turmeric, chickpea flour and rose water and is applied by the family members of the couple on the bride or groom’s skin. This paste is meant to brighten and even the skin tone, so that the couple may have a glow on the wedding day.
The Pithi is alway a fun part of the ceremony, and as my relationship goes with the groom (my childhood friend who i treat like my brother), this turned into a messy game of tag with me getting chased from one end to the other until he covered me with it as well!
Traditionally, in India, weddings are in the evening. To kick off the huge celebration, the “Jaan” (groom’s side), overtook the treets with a band and dancing as we walked down the mile long road to the venue. A long walk for sure, with dancing, singing and music, stopping the traffic on the way, as the groom followed us sitting atop of a great elephant.
The grand venue was beautifully decorated, with trails of flowers and candles down the path into the main area. The huge space laid out with lots of tables to sit down and eat, the vast array of food choices from around the world hosting over 2,000 guests, the sofas to sit and watch the ceremony, all in an open space with the night sky as our roof.
If you ever get the opportunity to attend a great indian wedding in india, jump at the chance, it’s a wedding experience you have to see at least once.