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!