Jain pre-wedding

Last week I met a lady, Madit, while we were both getting pedicures. Her son was getting married and when she found out I live here learning about culture she invited me to the pre-wedding rituals and ladies “sangeet” (singing & dancing.)  I had a wonderful time and met lots of new, friendly people.

As an American I arrived almost on time so there were not many people there yet. I expected that as it is typical Indian culture to arrive late for most events.I wanted to be on-time so that I wouldn’t miss anything.The father of the groom did a short puja in the kitchen for the food as the workers were busy cooking.  As we waited for others to arrive Chai was served as well as sweets, gulab janam,  gajar hawa (made from carrots & dry milk,) and pakora (battered and fried vegies.)

The mid-day rituals were more of a religious nature. A Jain priest came as well as family. I was the only non-family person there I think. The family drifted in at different times and once the eldest brother of Madit arrived the men all participated in a ritual with the priest while all the ladies sat around and visited with each other. Like all over the world, extended families many times don’t see each other often so weddings are a time of catching up on what has been going on in each other’s lives.

 

Bhaat Ceremony: Next Madit’s siblings and their families went outside the door and Madit greeted them and gave gifts as they entered in bearing gifts for her & her family. They they all sat on the carpet together and they marked each other with red powder , served nuts all around and then gave envelopes of money & other gifts to wish good luck. You may remember that the Sihk wedding was also preceded by much gift giving between the family members on the day preceding the wedding. Madit said the custom was for her siblings to show their support of her & her son’s wedding.  (Hindus use the Tilaka ceremony, as a mark of honor and welcome to guests, something special or someone special. The tilaka is a mark created by the application of powder or paste on the forehead- Wikipedia)

 

 

Next the ladies took turns scooping rock salt and turmeric tubers from one bowl into a mortar and then using the pestle to mark it. Unlike the haldi ceremony for brides they didn’t rub the haldi on the groom.

Then it was time for a yummy veg lunch and everyone went home for an hour to rest before coming back for the ladie’s sangeet. What I didn’t know is that everyone would be changing clothes! LOL! So I returned in the same outfit I had worn previously.

In the evening was the ladies sangeet. All the relatives from earlier were there plus many of Madit’s lady friends. All the men mostly stayed outside on the patio and drank chai. The ladies did some beautiful solo dances then a large group of us all danced together. (sorry! no pics of me dancing! LOL!) Afterwards several people sang beautiful songs and Madit read out-loud the HUGE wedding invitation from the bride’s family. Of course it all ended with a scrumptious dinner! I had lots of fun and am grateful for the opportunity to be able to get a glimpse inside this families celebration!

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Punjab Wedding

Last time I wrote about all the festivities leading up to the actual wedding. The wedding day itself was beautiful! We had beautiful weather. Arriving at the wedding grounds we walked down a long, covered walkway and there were beautiful pictures of the bride and groom. There were two different bands there. The one with bag pipes played and marched in front of the groom when he arrived.

When the groom arrived all the men from both families met under an awning outside the wedding hall. Here they put flower leis on each other and exchanged gifts, ie the fathers with each other, the uncles, brothers, etc…

Next the bride’s family moved into the building and stood at the entry door where there was a ribbon across the door. The groom and family then came to the entrance requesting to be allowed in. There followed a lively exchange and lots of laughter between the bride’s sisters and the groom as he bargained with them in order to gain entrance. After entry everyone ate lunch.

Unfortunately I forgot to take pics of the HUGE spread of food outside for everyone to eat. There was a fruit bar and 2 long lines of food where workers were cooking noodle stir fry, dosas, samosas, chaat, etc. and of course desert!

Then the immediate family along with the bride and groom jumped in cars and went to the Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) for the religious ceremony. I was privileged to be able to accompany them. It was a beautiful ceremony although I couldn’t understand what was being said. At one point the father of the bride took the sash of the groom and handed the end to the bride. They then at several different points got up and walked around the place where the holy book was being read. Then we returned to the wedding grounds being met by a band and all the people celebrating.

Next the bride & groom entered a giant tulip and stood on a rotating dais. The tulip slowly opened revealing the happy couple who exchanged leis and had many photos taken. They then went over to sit on the seat of honor for more pictures then we all had dinner. (All that yummy food earlier was just appetizers!)

The last thing of the evening was the immediate family went to the bride’s house and there was a small ceremony for her parents and siblings to say goodbye and send her off with the groom and his family.

Two days later the groom’s family had a large reception at a hotel welcoming the bride into their family. That’s where we had wedding cake and everyone fed a spoonful to the happy couple. Many pictures were taken of the family and there was much food and dancing to celebrate the happy event.  It was lots of fun!

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Punjab Sikh Pre-Wedding

I was privileged to be invited to a friend’s wedding and stay with her family all week. Hoshiarpur is a beautiful city. One day we went into the market and I was able to watch a man doing inlaid wood. They had beautiful tables as well as smaller things. In the old days they would have used  ivory but now days it is thin slices of colored rock.

Shagun

The first ceremony was the morning I arrived. There was a gift giving ceremony at the Sikh temple for the groom first then afterwards the groom’s family gave gifts to the bride as well. There was first music then a reading from their holy book. Many of the gifts were sweets and people fed the groom/bride a sweet for good wishes. We also ate a wonderful buffet lunch. (I had such wonderful food all week long!!)

Haldi Ceremony

The next day was the haldi ceremony at the bride’s house (who lived with her parents.) Haldi is tumeric. They make a dough with haldi in it to rub onto the arms and face of the bride. But first all the close relatives sat down with the bride and scooped lentils and rice from bowls into clay jugs signifying the bride & groom would always have the food basics in their house. The elder sister of the bride created a beautiful mosaic from tinted crystals for the bride to sit above. Then the bride & family paraded outside, she sat down on a little step stool and the family took turns rubbing the haldi on her and waving money over her head for good luck/prosperity. Then a string with beads was tied on everyone’s wrist. Afterwards the bride’s sister-in-law (brother’s wife) cleaned up the crystals to a little pushing and much laughter. Then we all had chai. YUM!

Mehndi Ceremony

That evening many of the women in the bride’s family had mehndi (henna)art applied to our hands and/or feet. It was a fun time of laughing and chatting as the henna artists worked. The bride’s henna art was more elaborate and went further up the leg and arms. She had 1 artist who worked all evening on her. It was my first time to get henna. Fun! The artist squeezes the henna paste onto your skin in an elaborate design. After a couple of hours it dries enough you can scrub it off and you are left with an orange stain that overnight turns to dark brown. The longer you can leave it on the darker it will be. You can also put sugar/lemon water on it to re-wet it so it takes longer to dry and thus becomes darker. The first pics are after application and the last pic is the next day.

Path

The next morning there was a Sikh religious ceremony at the house. I couldn’t understand any of it so I can’t tell you much. A man read/chanted from their holy book.

Bangles

That afternoon the Bride’s mother’s brother and his wife placed red bangles on the bride and tied gold bells that hung down from her wrist. These she also wore for her wedding the next day. Although she didn’t wear them for the dance that night. The bangles were dipped in the rose water then placed on her wrists. New clothes were also given.

Ladie’s Sangeet (dance!)

That evening we had a wonderful time eating and dancing! All the bride’s family were there to celebrate. And at one point they brought out pots with lights on them for the bride to balance on her head and dance with. All of us took turns with the pot though. It was a hoot!  We had so much fun dancing the night away. Later in the evening all the men finally came out to dance as well. There was lots of money being waved then thrown in the air. The near by workers would then pick it up. It’s a way of wishing good luck on the bride.

I’ll write about the actual wedding and reception next time. Needless to say it was an awesome adventure to get to stay with the family all week. There was lots of chai and wonderful things to eat all week. but most of all being in the midst of this large, loving family was a precious time I will never forget.

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Winter Cruise SALE!

We have a cruise for 28FEB, 2016 on Royal Caribbeans, Jewel of the Seas. Balcony cabin is $914.00 per person including taxes and $604.00 per person inside for 7 nights! It sails from San Juan and goes to Aruba, Curacao, St. Kitts and St. Thomas. We’ll be happy to help you with plane fare from wherever you are to SanJaun also. (Plane fare additional)

Contact THE TRAVEL STORE today to reserve your spot! 816-254-4200 or 816-786-6604

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Jaipur Revisited

I know I have posted about Jaipur before but I visited there again recently and some things have changed!  http://www.chokhidhani.com/  has expanded their experience quite a bit! It is definitely the Rajasthani experience that you do NOT want to miss! Some things, like elephant and camel rides, puppet show, tight rope walking, and the wonderful veg food are the same. (Thankfully!) But they have added an entire area of  Rajasthani handicrafts that is wonderful! They guarantee the prices will not be beat elsewhere, and the set prices were good! The other thing was I had told all my friends that it was outside the city…but in just 4 short years the city has grown up around it and they have built an overpass right in front of it!

I stayed at a new hotel and I was delighted! Park Regis http://www.staywellgroup.com/hotels/Asia/park-regis-jaipur-india  (it was Holiday Inn when I was there: original- not the fancier new one) near the old, walled Pink City was very up to date in their rooms but delightfully traditional in their exterior. It’s less expensive than the newer hotels and near all the forts you will want to see on Amber Road. 5 minute drive to the Pink City and you’ll be touring City Palace.  The Blue Pottery Shop is only a few doors down as well.  Their restaurant The Palms had a really good breakfast and lunch buffets. However, it’s almost all Indian food (It’s what your there for, right?!) but they do have someone making omelets on demand.

Here’s some pics for ya! For more pics, see my previous posts about Jaipur here.

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London in 4 hours

My last trip from the USA to India I went through London. I had an 8 hour lay over so I decided to spend the money for the express train from Heathrow to Piccadilly. Who wants to walk around inside an airport instead of acquiring a glimpse of a new culture? Of course, walking around in the fresh air was wonderful too!  Which is what I told the immigration officer when he wondered why I wanted a visa on arrival when I was leaving the country again in just a few hours. He grinned & gave me my stamp and off I went! I stowed my carry-ons in the left baggage department and bought a round-trip ticket on the express train.  https://www.heathrowexpress.com/  It’s a bit expensive but you can get to London in 15 minutes versus 1-1/2 hours on the tube.  From Piccadilly Circus you can take the tube to anywhere you want to see. I went about 5 blocks down to get a free walking map from:  http://www.theoriginaltour.com/  I wanted to walk instead of hopping the bus, but you can get on/off the bus anywhere when your ready to head back to the airport. I went to Trafalgar Square, which is where most these pics are taken, and then over to the river to look at The Eye and Big Ben.  Enjoy the pics! and next time you have a long lay-over somewhere don’t just sit bored in the airport,  get out and explore!

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Rewind!

Sorry I’ve been MIA! My mother passed away in January and I took some time off to grieve and some R & R with family and friends in the USA.  I saw a beautiful sunrise.

Sunrise over the Ozarks

Sunrise over the Ozarks

Some wild turkey’s eating corn at my cousin’s feeder. Wild Turkeys

I saw some interesting artwork at the Kemper Art Musuem in Kansas City, MO.

2015-02-24 13.50.22

Chandelier made by Dale Chihuly

 Statue outside the Kemper,

Statue outside the Kemper,

Or how about the beauty of Oklahoma woods in early spring. A little grass springing up but the trees still barren & resting, waiting for the warmer temperatures that will signal them to awaken and bring forth the shade cover that is so welcome on a hot summer day.

OK woods-early spring

OK woods-early spring

We all have different ways of handling death,some are cultural and some are religious. Here in the USA we have many different religions and so many different ways of handling death, although some things are regulated by law for sanitary reasons. However, even among those of us who follow Jesus there are different customs and preferences. I guess because in Jesus we have the freedom to choose. We can cremate or bury or both. My family chose to bury our mother where many of our ancestors were laid to rest.  In India people handle death a little differently because they don’t normally embalm so must be taken care of within 24 hours. I don’t profess to knowing too many details of how the different religions handle things. I do know the Hindus normally cremate their dead, many times along the Ganges River in Varanasi if they can. It’s their most Holy River and Holy City. I will do another post later about Varanasi but here’s a pic of the ghats on the Ganges.

Ghat on the Ganges River- Varanasi

Ghat on the Ganges River- Varanasi

Ghat on Ganges in Varansi

Ghat on Ganges in Varansi

But I mostly rested and visited with friends and family while in the USA. I am excited to return to India in April! Stay tuned for more updates of my travels!

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