Wedding Extravaganza in India

Hello Everyone,

About three weeks ago I went to the city of Udaipur.  This is a city in Rajasthan about 9 hours South of Jaipur.  It is considered to be the most romantic place in India and it certainly was beautiful.  We spent 3 days there and I just feel in love with it.  It was so much calmer then Jaipur and I felt that the relaxed way of life was contagious.  It is primarily a Muslim city, so I heard the call to prayer five times a day and this made me nostalgic for Niger.  The only bad thing about the trip was that we got stuck on a bus for 4 hours because it broke down.  This made the 9 hour trip 13 and we were extremely exhausted when we finally rolled up to Jaipur at 6AM.  The funny thing was that, while we were getting anxious and trying to figure out what was going on, as nobody on the bus spoke English, the Indians were calm as could be.  I guess this happens often here.  In any event, I really enjoyed the trip and would love to visit again.

The view from our Guest House.  It was on top of a hill and overlooked Udaipur.

After my weekend away in Udaipur, I spent the next two weekends just laying low and enjoying Jaipur.  I find that I am in a lose lose situation because I want to see so much and yet travelling every weekend and working during the week is exhausting.  Thus, I am trying to travel every other weekend and stay in town on the alternative weekends. 

This past week was extremely exhausting because there were so many things going on.  Besides the normal teaching that I do, I have started to take dance classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I am taking classical India dance which is so much harder then it looks.  The dance itself is not very motion oriented but instead has a lot of poses.  You normal stand in one spot and constantly change poses throughout the song.  However, I certainly am enjoying it.

On Thursday, all of the volunteers were invited to an Indian Wedding.  I for one was very excited about this because I had been wanting to see a wedding since I had gotten here.  I feel that weddings are one of the things that best show the culture of a country; and since culture is something that I study, I was looking forward to seeing it embodied through this tradition.  If you have ever had any good Indian friends, you probably know that an Indian wedding is extremely different from any you would see in the west. There is a lot of color, a lot of people, and even more food!  The wedding that we went to was one of a family in the Brahman cast, which is the highest caste. So needless to stay, is was big in every way.  The total number of people that were there was 6,000.  You could imagine how overwhelming it was to walk into an area that looks like a fair grounds and see thousands and thousands of people.  The decorations for a Hindu Wedding are similar to decorations you would see around Christmas time in the States, minus the Santa’s of course.  There are a lot of lights and a lot of bows.  There are musicians playing traditional instruments and a huge amount of food.  On one end there was a stage and on the other three ends were giant buffet tables that had all the Indian food you could possibly imagine.  I just remember going back and forth for about an hour to make sure I could get a taste of everything.  I also took this opportunity to buy a traditional Sari.  I loved getting dressed up, although I must say, having to squat in a latrine in a Sari was not easy, lol!  Perhaps the strangest thing to me about the whole experience was that it seemed that the entire celebration was more for the guests then the couple.  The bride showed up at about the last hour and there was a giant procession to the stage, where the couple then exchanges there vows.  It took her about 1 hour to get from the entrance to the stage and the poor girl almost got knocked down about 4 times.  As we were the only westerners there, we were quite a spectacle and it seemed as though people were more interested in us then the couple.  It certainly was weird for me to be the center of attention at someone elses wedding.

Me in my Sari before the wedding.  If you look closely you can see that my left arm has Henna on it!

Some of the Volunteers at the wedding! 

The Groom on his horse coming in for the ceremony.

The Bride finally coming in!
The bride and her bridesmaids coming down the aisle.  There is actual gold in her Sari!

The bride and groom finally made it to the stage.  The flower necklace is similar to the rings at a western wedding.  They each put one on each other and this symbolizes the connection between the two.

Well I hope you enjoy the pictures and I will write soon about my trip to Agra where the magnificent Taj Mahal is!

Love You All and I hope Spring has finally reached you guys!

Alyssa

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