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Until last week, all of my impressions of Indian weddings were based on Monsoon Wedding, my favorite movie of all time.  Little did I know that some Indian weddings are of a variety even better than the ones seen on the big screen.

The stars of this show were my cousin, Priya, and her now-husband, Druv.  Our family poured in from around the U.S. and throughout India to join in the celebrations, which kicked off with a cocktail party that would put Bollywood to shame.  There was a rose petal-lined red carpet that led to a huge, red tent, crowds grooving to bhangra tunes and waiters bearing trays of multi-colored kamikaze shots.  Enough said.
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Next came the traditional pre-wedding application of henna to the hands of many female family members (myself included!) and to the hands and feet of the bride.  (The henna-application process requires some patience; Priya sat still for hours as the artisans applied the herbal mixture, and then for hours more while the whole thing dried.  The intricate designs will last for weeks.)
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The next day brought the somber ceremony that marks the bride’s transition from her home to the home of the groom.  (Priya, like most Indian women, lived with her parents until she got married.  Now, she’ll move into the house that Druv shares with his extended family.)  As you may have seen in the movies, the groom arrives at this ceremony aboard a white horse, accompanied by a parade of his singing and dancing family members and by a horn band.  (Sadly, the horse and the band weren’t allowed inside the military area where the event was taking place, so we didn’t get to see them, although we heard them coming.) The evening was capped off by a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony, which took place at about 2:00 a.m.; what a different world!
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The following day1 brought festivities put on by the groom’s family to celebrate the addition of its newest member.  Out came the red tent, along with hordes of waiters passing every kind of Indian appetizer imaginable, a buffet line that Derek is still dreaming about and the most opulent clothing and jewelry I’ve ever seen.  The wedding celebrations came to a close a couple of days later with a Sikh ceremony that honored my family’s traditions.

Having grown up on the other side of the world, I haven’t had a chance to spend much quality time with my many family members who live in Delhi.  Priya’s wedding gave me not only that chance, but also the opportunity to experience all of the colorful splendor that comes with an Indian wedding. The whole thing felt like a very fancy American wedding that had been dipped in colorful paint and then rolled in glitter.  We absolutely loved it.

  1. As you can tell by now, the length of Indian weddings is measured in days, not hours. []