However, an Indian wedding is otherwise a very colourful social event. Preparations for the celebration of an Indian marriage start a month or two in advance of the wedding day. Parents of the bride start purchasing clothes and other items of dowry. Every day they have to go for shopping. They buy jewellery, clothes, utensils, etc. They also book tents, shamianas, carpets, crockery, lights etc. in advance to arrange the reception of the marriage party.
The wedding of my sister was fixed for 15th January, 2004. My parents started preparations for this marriage many weeks in advance.
Our house was given a face-lift. It was thoroughly white-washed. Wedding cards were sent out to all our relatives and friends.
In fact, my father had to take leave from his office for one week. The relatives started arriving in our house three or four days in advance.
The confectioner came to our house two days in advance and started preparing the choicest sweets. A number of guests were pouring into our house every hour. We had to request our neighbours to allow us to use one or two rooms of their houses for our guests. They obliged us willingly.
Pre-wedding celebrations started in our house with the holding of Ladies’ Sangeet. Most of the ladies of our locality participated in it.
On the day of the wedding, a huge canopy was fixed outside our house. A dais was erected for the garlanding ceremony. Arches were put up and decorated with flowers. In the evening, the whole place was illuminated with multi-coloured lights.
The marriage party comprising 250 persons arrived at our house at 8.00 P.M. They were accompanied by a band which played a number of tunes from films. A few boys and girls were also performing “bhangra” dance to the beat of a drum. All the people in the marriage party were wearing beautiful dresses. The bride-groom came seated on a white mare.
My parents received the marriage party at the main gate. Pandits of both sides chanted some auspicious mantras. Then the parents and other close relatives of both the boy and girl were introduced and they garlanded each other. This ceremony is called “Milni”. Thereafter, a “Sehra” was read by someone from the boy’s side. His voice was very melodious.
The marriage party was ushered in to the huge canopy and served a sumptuous dinner. Simultaneously, soft music was played to entertain the guests.
The bridegroom and the bride came to the dais. They garlanded each other. The photographer was busy taking snaps of each ceremony. After the dinner was over, all members of the marriage party except the bridegroom, his parents and a few close relatives left for their homes by a chartered bus.
At night, our pandit performed the marriage ceremony. He chanted Vedic mantras. He explained to the bridegroom and the bride the sacramental character of an Indian marriage. He told them that marriages are settled in heaven but are performed on earth. The bridegroom and the bride were tied in the marital knot. They took seven rounds of the holy fire. It signalled the completion of the marriage ceremony.
In the morning, the guests were served breakfast. After that, our sister left our house alongwith the bridegroom. She felt the pangs of separation and sobbed. A house in which she was born and brought up for 22 years had become, as it were, a foreign house now. My mother also could not control herself. She embraced my sister and wept. Though there were tears in everyone’s eyes, yet all felt happy that the marriage had been performed without any problem.