Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding: Indian Weddings 101

I love love love Indian weddings! I attended my first one a few years ago and it introduced me to the true definition of the word "spectacle"! While some of my Indian friends are already kind of jaded when it comes to going to weddings, I'm always thrilled to be invited to one.

There are so many events (and prayers in between) leading up to the actual wedding: The Mendhi ceremony is when the bride gets these henna tattoos drawn on her hands, arms, and feet--the letters of the groom's name are hidden in the intricate design. Alas, I missed Mads's as I wasn't in Cebu yet. But during my Indian-themed bachelorette party, Mads served as Mendhi artist, drawing fabulous peacocks on everyone's hands.

(Top) Mads hard at work at my bachelorette party; (above) my glowing best friend at her Mendhi ceremony

On the official day of festivities at Mads and Mukesh's wedding, there was the ring ceremony and the Sagri--a ceremony where the groom's family gets to know the bride, if I understand correctly. These were followed by one of my most favorite events at Indian weddings: the Sangeet.

The grand stage at M&M's Sangeet

The Sangeet is a big program prepared by the bride and groom's family and friends. I really enjoy it because, aside from being very entertaining, it's a manifestation of the family and friends' love for the couple. So much time and effort go into preparing for it; several practice sessions take place so people can perfect a dance, a song number, a skit. I can't imagine Pinoys doing this over and over again--sometimes several times a year when there is one wedding after another!

The bride and groom, part of an audience of about 600 guests, show their appreciation

M&M's Sangeet revolved around "Gossip Auntie," a takeoff from Gossip Girl. Gossip auntie was a fictitious busybody auntie who, through the course of sending tsismis text messages about M&M, effectively told the story of the couple. The messages also served as introductions to the dance numbers.

The finale was a number by the friends, which I choreographed. It was a dance-off between the couple's guy and girl friends. We had around three practice sessions before heading for Cebu, which wasn't easy considering this was during the transition period between my old and new jobs! But anything for my BFF!

(Top) Mads joined the girls, (above) while Muks joined the boys. I called Mahesh (leftmost guy) my star student because he really wanted to master the dance!

After the program, everyone usually gets on the dance floor to shake their groove thang...

The bride struttin' her stuff

And when I say "everyone," I mean everyone--young and old!

Hamil and I LOVED this guy! He was just dancing all. Night. Long. With anyone and everyone!

I love how people are so game to dance, no prodding required. Pinoys are normally shy when it comes to dancing at weddings (I'd like to think our wedding was an exception though!), so Indian weddings are a refreshing change! Everyone's just so ready to party! (The free-flowing alcohol certainly helps...)

The following evening, there was a seaside barbecue, complete with bands and fire dancers.

But this was just a prelude to the night's main event: the Youngsters' Party. If you haven't figured it out by now, Indians are all about partying--and they definitely go all out when it comes to costume parties! M&M's theme was Madonna and Michael Jackson, so you had to come dressed as either one. Just so you have an idea of how seriously they take the whole costume business:

(From top) M&M as M (Michael) and M (Madonna)--Muks wore a scary-ask mask; the bride's (and my) sister was legally blonde; Mahesh, who always has showstopper costumes, with his gorgeous wife Karis (aka Riana)

Mads wore a Preview-worthy dress by Patrick Galang. And I came as A League of Their Own Madonna, first because I didn't want to wear heels for hours as I anticipated a night of dancing, and second because I figured no one else would come in that outfit!

(Left) My costume; (right) my inspiration

The following day was finally wedding day!

Til this day, I don't understand exactly what happens at Indian weddings. During previous weddings, people seated beside me would try to explain what was going on. All I know is that at some point, the bride and groom walk around the fire...

And...the bride changes her name! It totally blew my mind the first time I heard about it. They announce what the bride's new name is going to be (Madhuri is now Rania); the bride also takes on the husband's first name as her middle name, and his last name as her last name. She becomes a whole new person! She gets to choose her name (there are auspicious letters given), so that's kind of fun. Normally, though, it's only the husband's side and her new acquaintances that call her by her new name. To me, she will forever be Madhuri!

Also, the bride is supposed to leave ALL her old stuff at her old home when she moves into her husband's home! Wow. means new shoes for Mads!

After the wedding, the bride and groom have some sort of closed-door salt ceremony with the groom's family. Then they head to the reception for one more night of partying! But of course.

Photos (except for my bachelorette and Madonna costume) by Jamie Lihan (watermarked) and Heidi Valencia for Imagine Nation


  1. Very informative post, I love it! The weddings we're used to pale in comparison tuloy.

    Your friend looks great, especially the one of her dancing during her Sangeet.

    Reading about other cultures' wedding traditions are really interesting, I just found out all about the Ting Hun of the Chinese and it also fascinated me.

  2. I'll be doing an Indian wedding fashion post next!:)


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