A guest post by Mary Hamilton-Smith of AUSTRALIAN WOMENS TRAVEL.
Mary leads regular trips for women to India and Europe – why not join her?
Whist on our recent trip to India, my friend Ashiq’s cousin was getting married in Jodhpur, and so we were invited to attend. February is the wedding season in Jodphur and there were 28 on the night of the wedding we attended! The wedding celebrations go on for 4 or 5 days!! It is full on , and nothing like we are used to here in Australia! We were so lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of this celebration and where treated like celebrities!!
It was very important to the family that we looked the part for the BIG night of the celebrations and we where asked to dress like them. Ashiqs mother ,a beautiful and gracious woman, was given the task of taking us shopping for the occasion.
First stop the fabric shop, the outfits come in 3 pieces, fabric for the top, fabric for the pants and a ready made scarf.
We sat on the floor of the shop on a large white sheet ,as the shopkeeper undid packet after packet of combinations ,until we found the ones that we liked. Next stop the jewellery shop, where we once again sat on the display floor, a great deal of care was taken to find the perfect Jewellery to match our fabrics, It was hard to imagine we were only buying cheap paste jewellery, so much fuss was taken you would think we were in Tiffany’s New York !!
However ,we completed out transactions and came out with the appropriate earrings, bangles, necklaces and ankles chains ( one for each ankle) all large, glittery and full of BLING!
Next stop the house of the dressmaker, there was a lot of tooing and froing and advice being given to the dressmaker from every woman in the house (neighbourhood?), who had dropped in to give their opinion on how to dress these strange women. (How to make the limited amount of material they had go a long way, as we were all either taller or bigger than any of them). We then spent the afternoon getting our hands hennaed.
All the women and children in every household we visited prior to the wedding, were all running around with henna drying on their hands and feet.
Miraculously, oour completed outfits arrived late on the afternoon of the main ceremony and we rather self consciously got dressed, all of us finding ingenious ways to get our earrings to stay on, as the pins wouldn’t go through the holes in our ears. Cheered on by the crowd, the groom, who had been blindfolded by flowers ,wove through the streets on his white wedding horse. The band blared, ladies holding huge plastic chandeliers on their heads lit the way followed by a rather noisy generator, which couldn’t be heard above the din. )
A man ran ahead of the procession and let off fireworks every few minutes, that made us jump with fright every time! Each time we turned a corner the band stopped and energetic dancing took over . It was utter chaos, but its also vibrant and exciting, this is what we where there to do, experience India!
During the whole celebration and ceremony I couldn’t help but notice someone important is missing . “Where is the bride” I asked? “ “At home” was the reply, getting ready for her ‘Golden Night’??????? Oh and by the way the bride and groom have never met………