I'm going to a monsoon wedding!

Old Jan 11th, 2012, 10:50 PM
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I'm going to a monsoon wedding!

Though I swore i would never again go to India in June, I am breaking that oath! Our former exchange student is getting married in Mumbai and told me she's hoping I can take part in the ceremonies. I am so excited to see her again, and I've always wanted to experience a wedding in India..

She only lived with us for a summer, but i just adored her. She inspired me to take my first trip to India, although by then her family had moved to New Zealand.

Luckily, my daughters and I bought some beautiful saris, though we'll need to get the right accessories. Guess I'd better start practicing my Bollywood moves on the dance floor as well.;-)

Any tips on gift giving, dressing for the various ceremonies or other aspects of an Indian (Hindu) wedding will be greatly appreciated.
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 06:48 AM
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What fun, Lucy! We thoroughly enjoyed our experience with the traditions of our Thai and Danish friends' wedding in BKK. I'm sure this one will be an event to remember!
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 06:57 AM
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Some one needs to take picture of you all in your finery, and we do expect a trip report on this one. How fun.
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 07:28 AM
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Ilucy - how exciting! Sorry I don't have any advice but would love to hear about the wedding afterward.
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 07:29 AM
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I am excited for you and yes, we do expect a report...
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 07:34 AM
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How wonderful! Can't you just rent Monsoon Wedding and watch it five times and be ready for it?

I'll bet Cicerone will have some good info for you.
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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Can't wait for the TR! Doesn't your exchange student have some advice? Not sure where you live, but I might visit one of my local Hindu temples, or the Indian shopping/eating enclave, and ask some questions, but there's no guarantee the ceremonies would be the same.
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 09:23 AM
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maybe jayA will give you some hints or some of our other indian friends on fodors..
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 10:32 AM
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Hi Lcuy. Find out from your friend how many different events you will be attending, then plan on a different outfit/sari for each event. Most of the events will involve the bride, groom, their parents and close relatives. As a guest you will mostly observe and enjoy.

One thing to find out from her is what time the "pheras" (pronouce as "FAY-rus") will be. This is the actual marriage ceremony with the hindu priest and taking of the marriage vows. The priest will decide on the auspicious time, but often it's something ridiculous like 4:00am. If it's scheduled for late in the night, usually only the family members attend. Guests can stay and watch, but it's not rude by any means if you leave before then.

For jewelry, bring some from the US that look nice with what you plan to wear (earrings, necklace, and one or two bangles/bracelets). I like jewelry from Nadri (sold at Nordstroms), or something along that line. In the US you can find some well made pieces with cubic zirconia stones.

Do you have blouses and petticoats for your saris? If not, you would want to either get those here or if you will have 5-7 days in India before the wedding, you could get them made there.

It should be a great time. Reply with any questions.
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 08:02 PM
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That is so nice of you to go all the way to India for the wedding! I assume this is a Hindu wedding, rather than a Christian or Muslim one. If it is not Hindu, some of my comments would change, but basically my thoughts are below:

1. If you have not received the formal invitation yet, wait until you do to finalize your travel plans. There may be numerous dinners and other events. This will depend on the bride and groom’s families and how lavishly they plan to celebrate. I have been to weddings that have been celebrated in different cities over different days. So see what develops. You are not expected to attend all events, but its more fun the more you can get to. If some of the events are being held in south Indian cities (other than Mumbai), those events are generally quieter and don’t involve dancing, and it may be interesting to see a different type of wedding event.

2. Hopefully you will be invited to the Menhdi party (henna hand and feet painting ceremony) and the bangle party (not all Hindu brides do this one, sometimes its combined with the Menhdi party) which are all-women events and typically a lot of fun. For sure you will want to see the groom arrive at the ceremony on horse, elephant or whatever they arrange. Usually there is a loud band to accompany him.

3. I am glad you and your daughters are planning to wear a sari, that will be very much appreciated by the family and the guests. You can also consider Punjabi outfits as well. Dressy western wear is also perfectly fine if you run out of saris or if you just want a change. Without knowing the circumstances of the bride or groom, I can’t comment on jewelry, except to say that I probably would bring all the good stuff you can. (If the families are really wealthy, it will be a hoot just to see the bling on the bride and the guests….) You can also buy bangles in India to match your saris.

4. As mentioned above, you may need petticoats and blouses for the saris. Preferably a petticoat in a matching colour, so you may need several. And a blouse for each as well. You can have those made, I like them to take the edging from the bottom of the sari fabric and use it as trim on the sleeves of the blouse, so if you have enough extra sari fabric, you can try that. You will also need sandals in jewel tones to match the saris, you can usually find a good selection once you get to India. You can were high heels if you want, but you will be taking your shoes off for some ceremonies and when going into homes, so sandals may be preferable. (One of my pet peeves with saris are women carrying big black or brown shoulder handbags, but that is just me, but if you have a jewel tone clutch so much the better.) Someone in the brides family (or the hotel) can probably help you tie your saris and affix a bindi to your forehead. You can buy ready-made self-adhesive bindis all over India, in colours to match your saris if you want.

5. If you or your daughters have hair of any length, please consider putting it up, and for the hair in general please consider putting some sort of flowers in it. You can buy jasmine garlands most anywhere in the streets and other flowers like orchids or hibiscus work as well. Jewels in the hair are nice too. Long hair worn down just basically won’t be done for the formal events. (Even with western dress, having your hair up with flowers in it can be a good idea. As you probably have noticed in your other trips, Indian women wear flowers in their hair even just in their daily life.)

6. The wedding ceremony itself may be at an odd time (as mentioned above, the astrologer picks the auspicious time) and the wedding dinner to celebrate may be on another day or several hours later. At the wedding ceremony, guests may wander in and out, eat at the back, talk among themselves. This is all totally normal. In contrast to a Christian or Jewish wedding, there is not a lot of focus on the couple, other than by the family surrounding the priests at the altar.

7. Wedding gifts are generally not brought to the wedding ceremony or the dinner, you can give those separately when you see the bride. (Cash envelopes can be brought to the wedding. Cash is a perfectly fine gift. ) Don’t expect that they will be opened in front of you. I am not sure if there are any “good luck” gifts for Indian brides. Something from the US might be nice.
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 08:07 PM
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and you thought the ticket was expensive---now you need petty coats.... i last saw them in the 1960's

do you have any old prom dresses in the attic?
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 10:38 PM
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Thanks for the tips!

I know her family is pretty well off, and as she is definitely an excellent catch, I'm guessing the groom's family is in the same league.

I went on facebook and found some photos from a wedding she attended a few years ago. I think it might have been her sister's. All the saris and punjabi suits were trimmed in lots and lots of silver and gold beads and embroidery, especially around the sleeves and necklines.

Lots of outfit changes, what looked like a hilarious menhedi party, and some gorgeous food porn too!

I do have tops and underskirt for two of my saris, but they are fairly casual. Living in Hawaii means I've at least got the sandal thing covered. I hope I'll have time to get a more glamorous top or two or even a dressy punjabi suit made up. Anyone know a good tailor in Mumbai?

Cash may be the easiest gift, or I might go for a piece of Hawaiian gold jewelry to remind her of her "past". Hmmm. The gift is the biggest question (isn't it always?), and obviously the one thing I can't really get her advice on.
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 11:49 PM
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What fun, lcuy.
Looks like you are getting some good advice and tips. Glitter is the name of the game at Indian weddings.

If Hawaii doesn't have many Indian stores, and if you should come to LA for a business trip, there are some excellent stores in little India (Pioneer & 183rd in Artesia, near Cerritos). You can find jewellers, sari stores who also have tailors and other stuff. People from all over Calif come and shop in Little India.

Obviously, saris in India will be cheaper to buy and you'll have many more choices. But you can check out what you might want in LA and then shop in Mumbai when you get to Mumbai.

On the other hand, you might decide to get your outfits taken care of before you get to Mumbai, so you can just enjoy the wedding.

Choosing a gift is a personal choice .... I am sure the bride will like whatever you choose.

We expect a full report. Have fun planning.
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Old Jan 13th, 2012, 01:18 AM
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I'm going in a couple weeks to a Sikh wedding in the Punjab.Totally opposite weather.Brrrrr.
Like you Lcuy. it isnt really the "right" time (but for budgetary, not weather , reasons) but i couldnt resist the chance to attend.
Have fun shopping!!!
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Old Jan 13th, 2012, 06:14 AM
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Try this novel for a fun read before you go--lots of insights on the different wedding and marriage customs of the major religious groups.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People--Farahad Zama
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Old Jan 13th, 2012, 06:24 AM
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can't you just wear dressy western clothes??
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Old Jan 13th, 2012, 07:32 AM
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You're no fun, Bob! Of course lcuy and her daughters will wear saris!
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Old Jan 13th, 2012, 01:03 PM
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Thanks for the recco, Julie. Sounds like fun...so i just ordered it for the long plane ride!
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Old Jan 13th, 2012, 01:52 PM
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Another ceremony that is on the bride's side that is fun is the "Ladies' Sangeet" which is usually only for the female relatives and friends on the bride's side. This is the event of music and dance performances. There is no religious significance per se, it's more for fun and entertainment.

Sometimes events are combined (such as the sangeet and henna ceremony) and sometimes they are held as separate events based on family preference. While the bride is holding certain ceremonies, the groom's side will be holding other ceremonies of their own elsewhere.

Bob is not far off to ask about wearing dressy western clothing. Mumbai is like NYC and western clothing has become mainstream.
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Old Jan 13th, 2012, 02:12 PM
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There's something about being given a glass of water when you arrive... you don't have to drink it, just accept it.
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