Monday, October 12, 2009

Bollywood Bridesmaid Part Four

So we've got the outfits (gorgeous by the way), we've got the treats stuffed, we've started the parties.  What's left?  Oh right.  Time to get married.

The night before the wedding, there was yet another gathering at the BB's house for her family.  I tell you, the poor mother who has to have her house clean and food ready at all times, it must be stressful.  All this ceremony and celebrating stems back to when the bride would be traditionally leaving the village never to see her family again.  Horribly sad. Luckily the BB was just moving ten minutes away.  But tradition is tradition.

So the night before the wedding rolls around.  And I am scrambling to find yet another Indian ensemble.  Luckily Indian dress is a tunic - so one size fits all.  A good thing because the BB is a size two.  Tonight there is more food, more dancing and a ceremony that involves using coloured shaved coconut placed in a specific design under a canopy of fabric.  Beneath this, the bride sits as those around her sing and members of her family feed her sweets.

The other white bridesmaid and myself asked why this was done.  'Tradition' became the stock response at this point. Seems to be that although steeped in ceremony, no one has a clue why they do anything.  Fair enough.  Why do we have confetti?  I actually know but that's for another entry.

So anyways, here we are.  Singing and eating sweets.  The sweets were really good. I kept eating mine before it was time to give them to BB.  Someone finally explained the sweets to me: you feed her sweets to that she enters the home of her husband sweet. I shoved a big old chunk in her mouth because she has a tendency to talk back.

Then it's her turn (or her mother's, I forget) to tie bracelets with tiny bells on everyone. This is the bond of the bride's side I think.  You aren't supposed to cut it off, it is supposed to eventually fall off.  That sucker stayed on longer than my henna.

There was dancing and the family gave her money.  Lots of money.  Like lots and lots of money.  I guess that's how you can afford to feed hundreds of people everyday.  Back in our Arabian tent with the hanging saris, her uncles sang as they put bracelets on her.  I don't know why this is done.  But it was fairly emotional, her mum was crying, her uncles were crying.  And it's her job to sit there and look somber.  Sort of weird if you knew her.  On top of all of this, there was family drama that I sort of got caught up in.  But that's a private story - so I will leave it up to you to imagine craziness going along with all this ceremony.

Remember what I said about pretending to be a culture you're not?  AKA henna lady?  I still stand by it but once again must reiterate that a culture does love it when you ask lots of questions and try to fit in.  The uncles loved me.  My attempt at Bollywood lessons, my enthusiasm for saris and galabjamuns, and my new trick:  imitating Indian speech by wiggling my head and saying the Punjab words I was fed.  I'm not above being a party trick.  Everyone loved this new (and slightly offensive I think?) talent. For the record, I didn't come up with it myself.  One of the bridesmaids taught it to me and then all the cousins joined in.  Whenever BB was stressed, I got to do it in order to make her laugh.  My one duty as bridesmaid:  keep the BB smiling and deal with all the craziness happening around her.  I definitely got myself in the middle of family drama and quelled situations wherever I could.

At this point, I am so stuffed with samosas (fried by one of the aunts in the cold Winnipeg garage), butter chicken (catered) and galabgamuns that I fear I will turn into fried Indian dough myself. Once again, thankful for the tunic.  It was all washed down with homemade chai tea that was DELICIOUS.  I went to bed that night with dreams of Bollywood stardom and little Indian elves dancing dances of happy chai times.  No, I was not drunk.  And what time did we get up?

Five AM.  That will be part five

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