Rahul's Wedding & Food Poisoning
14.02.2012 - 18.04.2012 27 °C
After some days in Bhopal, Rahul's wedding started. While I'm not an expert in weddings (I was 8 or 9 when I last attended a wedding), I can tell that there is a huge difference between a wedding back home and a typical Indian wedding. First of all, the duration differs a lot. While we celebrate for a day or 2, Indian weddings can easily last for more than a week with countless different rituals going on every day. I'm not sure if this counts for all Indian weddings but at Rahul's wedding, every day seemed a little more important than the previous one with more things going on and more people participating (somehow like a build-up). Until at the last day, with a huge party, the wedding reaches its climax. Second of all, the number of invitees makes a big difference. While this is already the case when comparing different European countries (e.g. Germany & Italy) due to the size of the family and the number of people that are considered one's friends, I felt it even more so in India. Literally EVERYONE one could think of was invited to the main day of the wedding. I don't know exactly how many people have been there but it must have been well over 1.000 invitees for sure. It was incredible how many people were there. Third, here getting married seems to be the single most important event in life for most Indians. Many Indians start to save up huge amounts of money for their wedding well before even knowing the person they will marry. When people turn 27 and make no attempt to find a partner to marry, their parents and relatives will start interviewing them about their future plans. Suggesting or even arranging meetings with potential wedding candidates. What is more, Indian weddings are a very traditional / spiritual affair. There are sooo many rites and rituals going on all the time that it was very hard to keep track - not only for me but also for the younger generation. Many times Roli and Anki couldn't really tell me what would happen next or what a particular ritual was for as there were simply too many to keep track. This didn't really matter too much as I enjoyed in participating in them anyways. Singing with the aunties, having my feet painted, dancing in the temple, eating blessed foot, having henna done, watching the ceremonies. I enjoyed all of it. Check out my pics.
Let the rituals begin. On day 1 all the women gathered to perform some rituals. First they all sang together.
Then everyone got their feet painted.
I decided to go with the flow
Pink feet, the latest trend
Then they performed the first ritual. It's funny how things change over time. Roli explained to me that traditionally the women went down to the nearest river to perform the ritual. Sometimes they had to walk long distances. Roli's aunties walked 5 meters away from the house. As the soil there could not be easily broken, they had prepared some softer soil from elsewhere
Another thing that has changed: in ancient times the bride used to be carried from her place to the groom's place in a life-sized doli. As all marriages were arranged, the bride was often from a different place then the groom, so great distances had to be covered. I can only imagine how exhausting this must have been for both the bride and her carriers. Especially considering the Indian heat. At Rahul's wedding a small, toy-like doli reminded of the original rite.
The following day, some temple ritual was on the schedule. So everyone wanted to look nice.
Danu brought her private beauty parlour
Roli for once dressed like a traditional Indian girl. Cute
Rahul & Ved looking smart
Finally, the whole family was ready to leave for a ritual in the temple - about 1,5 hours later than planned What an act to get everyone there! Everyone tried to get in the cars, but there was not enough space. So we rearranged and rearrenged and more and more people squished into each car. Until finally someone realized that it simply wouldn't work. So some got out again and waited for another uncle to arrive with his car to pick them up. It was quite funny to watch the whole scene and compare it to how it would have been handled back home. It had occurred to no one to simply count the car seats available and the people needing a lift to the temple
Shanu & Vinu all dressed up
Upon arrival at the temple, 2 drummers showed up and everyone started dancing and fooling around on the street. No one cared for what happened around us: the spectators that stopped to watch, the passersby, animals, horning cars, schoolbuses & sellers with their carts, that had difficulties to make their way past the knod of people. It was an amazing scene and I so enjoyed being part of it. It was great fun.
Before entering the temple, everyone gathered as the elder ladies started their ritual at the entry. Wearing their best sarees, one after another went down onto the rather dirty floor and crawled into the temple. Hereby showing their respect and giving their blessings to the groom.
Inside the temple
One of the uncles babysitting Ved and Shubh during the ritual
Little Ved in a traditional dress. Adorable!!!
The drummer taking a break
The old lady seemed to live inside the temple.
She prepared everything for the ritual and cleaned afterwards.
Roli, her mum & one of the many aunties
Roli's mum and aunties
The drummer wearing a playboy shirt
Everyone's leaving the temple after the ritual
After the temple, Roli and me borrowed her cousin's scooter to do some last minute wedding outfit shopping. While everyone had prepared their outfits for each day of the wedding weeks before, neither her nor me had anything to wear yet. However, we found most shops closed and I ended up borrowing stuff from everyone. When we arrived home more rituals were goin on - what a surprise... NOT
No one could escape the aunts blessings
After the pink colour at my feet hadn't come off after washing my feet over and over again, this time I was a little less enthusiastic and decided to wash my face immediately. This didn't help too much as it remained yellowish for another 2 days. It looked as if I had experimented with some really bad self-tan lotion. Luckily I carried some bronzing powder
The aunt looking proud after having blessed her husband. She really enjoyed that job
Then it was time for henna. The house seemed to convert itself into a home for the handicapped as until the henna was dry no one was able to use their hands or feet anymore. Little Ved cried desperately when his mum refused to pick him up.
I'm getting henna for the first time in my life
Roli's youngest auntie doing henna and phoning at the same time. Multitasking is very common in India.
Much envied by the rest, Neha was the first one who was ready. Some left their henna on for the whole night so it would get really dark. One aunt told me that the darker the colour gets the more your (future) husband loves you.
The kitchen was busy 24/7. Someone prepared something literally ALL the time.
The groom got henna, too
Always around: Ashi, Shubh & Ved the smallest members of the Neekhra family
Shubh watchin TV while little Ved is takin a power nap.
I could not resist testing my body pump biceps on that pumpkin
Luckily not all had been lost ... YET
Next day, the real events started. Therefore, more and more relatives came. I thought Italian families are big but they surely can't keep up with Indian families. By the third day, the house was bursting with people. And when I thought to myself that there is no possibility the house can hold one more person, 10 more arrived. It was quite incredible. Everyone ate, showered, dressed and slept in the same house. And somehow it all worked perfectly. And only the day before I had thought that Indians lack organising ability due to the transport incident on the way to the temple. This taught me an important lesson of not judging prematurely.
While by now the ground floor resembled the house of congress, the upper floor was still comparatively quiet. Which I was glad for as I didn't feel too well. I thought I was the master in handling big crowds and being fine without ANY privacy for days and even weeks on end. But India taught me differently again. I started feeling a little overwhelmed by constantly being around so many people not having any opportunity to retreat from all the huzzle and buzzle for a while. So I stayed in Anki's and Roli's old room most of the day. There was a constant coming and going as it had been declared the lady's dressing room I think, but even though there seemed to be hundreds of female relatives by now, it was still far quieter then the rest of the house. In the afternoon, I started feeling awkward and weak. Just before leaving to the place where the night's ceremony took place, I decided to take a painkiller to stop my head and limbs from aching. After only half an hour I felt much better. I was so relieved. I really didn't wanna miss out on anything now that the most important events of the whole wedding were approaching.
Back home, if you go to a party, the majority of people wear black. If u go for some colour you're really an eye catcher. Not so in India. Here the person wearing black would be the eye catcher. Although, as far as I can tell, NO ONE goes for black. It's bright colours everywhere. Very nice for a change! Although, it must be said that this is only valid for the ladies. Most men were dressed quite boring - rather European- in comparison. This looked especially funny as all women were seated on one side of the room and all men on the other. So looking to the left all you saw was neutral colours: grey, white, black, brown, maybe some blue if someone was daring. Looking to the right, however, one saw an explosion of colours.
Rahul & the priest performing some ritual wherby the priest is singing out loud ALL the marriage vows. It was nice but went on for AGES. I surely didn't wanna swop with the priest...
An hour later, and the ritual continues...
No party without little Ved. He spontaneously decided to join the ritual
Niti and me, both wearing kurtis, a traditional Indian dress, usually worn with trousers
Shubh looking smart in his little black suit. He loves having his pics taken
Roli and me, only one hour before the effects of food poisoning started to kick in properly
After the ritual was finally over, the buffet was opened and all my feeling sick and poorly had been forgotten. The buffet looked delicious. Roli tried her best to talk some sense into me and keep me from stuffing down all the food I had heaped on my plate but as so often I thought I knew better and would not listen... Sorry sweety <3 You were so right! Only half an hour later the nightmare began... Suddenly, I felt so weak and sick, my head and limbs hurt like hell and I needed the toilet urgently. However, when I got up I thought I might faint. After what seemed like eternity, one of Roli's uncles brought me home. After spending what seemed hours on the toilet - getting rid of the food from both sides simultaneously - my whole body started to shiver and I felt like losing consciousness. I managed to lay down and fell asleep. After some time I woke up when people entered the room. Anki and some others had come back to see how I was. While it was nice of them to do so, all I wanted is peace and quiet and someone I trusted to pity me and take care of me. After some time the noise became unbearable and I asked them to be a bit more considerate. Shortly after, however, it got even worse. With people being so noisy, entering "my" room, turning the light on, talking and laughing, smashing the doors and even chasing each other at some point. I felt so so so sorry for myself and at that moment missed my home so badly. I wanted to lay in my nice and quiet room, in my big and comfy bed in Lebus and I wanted my Mami and Papi to take care of me as they always do so wonderfully when I'm poorly. Luckily, Roli arrived shortly after. She knew exactly what I needed and I was so glad she was there for me. She threw everyone out and told them to be quiet, lay down next to me and padded my arm. I fell asleep almost immediately. The next day I wasn't much better and Roli convinced me to see a doctor. Roli's uncle insisted I should see the family doctor. An old, very kind men. He didn't even charge me any money for the examination. The examination, however, was somewhat odd and quite funny. He lets us into his fully decorated living room - Hindi music in the background - interviews me for a while and then starts to examine me with what seems to be pre-war or a Puppendoktor Pille doctor kit. I stay fully dressed while he examines me with a stethoscope. After the examination he tells us that me blood pressure had dropped so much (80 to 60) that he wants to hospitalise me. I refuse as I feel that the last thing I could handle in this rather unstable emotional situation is an Indian hospital. Thereupon, he prescribes me some injections and tells me to eat ice-cream!! to get my BP up. Moreover, he tells me to not drink so much as it would make the diarrhea worse. He writes down a whole bunch of medicine in Hindi on an A4 piece of paper and lets us to the door.
I didn't obey everything the doctor said: I decided to wait with the injections as I hate them and I continued drinking loads of water as I had high fever and I felt very thirsty. But I went for the ice-cream. I was a little sceptical if ice-cream would be the right thing for me but if a doctor told me it couldn't be wrong, could it? Roli brought me some Belgium chocolate one. It was delicious. But soon after I bitterly regretted having had it. I started having cramps and cold shivers, spent hours on the toilet and felt nearly as bad as I had the night before. It got to the point were Roli was so concerned she phoned her doctor aunt and asked her if she could come home from the wedding venue to have a look at me. Fortunately, she came. By then the high fever had gotten back. So she took some wet cloths and washed me to make the fever go down - just as I remember my granny doing it when I was still a little girl. It felt so good. Then she prepared to give me the injections. Roli came with some Axe as the injections didn't come with disinfection tissues. But luckily, Roli found some disinfection liquid at last. Then her eyes wandered over my body rather indecisively and she finally asked me where I wanted to have the injections. That freaked me out completely. Back home you never choose. There are injections that have to be injected into the muscle and some that have to be injected into the vein. I already pictured myself dying due to air in my veins. When I didn't respond, she started giving me options: upper arm, belly, the vein at the back of my hand etc. Very reluctantly, I pointed to the vein at the crook of my arm. I closed my eyes and waited what would happen. Surprisingly, Roli's aunt did such a great job that, despite all the liquid she injected into me, I didn't feel the slightest pain. Then she insisted to take me to a lab to have a malaria test done. Just in case. As you can see, even in the worst of miseries I did not neglect my duty
The lab - in one of the well-off neighbourhoods from Bhopal - where I went to have my blood & urin tested. It looked quite ok from the outside...
Unfortunately, not so from the inside...
This were the stairs that led to the toilet. I spare u with pics of the toilet itself.
In front of me another lab assistant - that looked more like a construction worker to Roli and me - was busy with some blood samples.
While a lab assistant took my blood, construction work was going on literally next to me. With proper drilling and hammering. Unthinkable back home...
It seemed all so surreal that I had to smile; for the first time that day.
Back at home, Roli & Darshan took care of me heartwarmingly. They stayed at home with me the whole day while the most important and nicest part of the wedding was going on. I was deeply grateful. Afterwards, Anki told me what we had missed and how much fun it was. At night we went to the hotel where the party had started hours earlier without us.
The wedding venue
As you can see Roli's family has not spared any expenses to make this an unforgettable event for everyone
Sooo many guests, unbelievable! aunties, uncles, cousins, their friends, collegues, neighbours and their friends, and friends' friends and collegues and neighbours etc. The whole office of each of Roli's uncles had been invited and god knows who else. You get the idea.
Roli and me. Only half an hour earlier I had lain in some hotel room feeling soooo miserable & weak. The first time Roli's aunt tried to put the saree on me, I almost fainted and we finally decided to call it quits. After another 2 hours of rest, I gathered all my energy and strength and got up. I was determined to participate at the main night of the wedding & to show off the saree Roli's aunt had borrowed me for the special event. Even if only for 30 minutes. And I did. But not one minute longer.
Darshan & Roli all dressed up
Ashi, me & Dia
Roli's doctor aunt - my saviour. She let me wear her saree and took such good care of me. I was so glad she was there!
This very nice lady chatted me up, asking if I was Malaysian. I guess she sensed that I was foreign and Malaysia was the only country she could come up with except India.
The groom and his best men
Everyone in their best dresses for the big day
And for everyone that wondered what kind of wedding this was without a bride. Here she is as she walks in with her closest family.
Probably the biggest difference between a Western and a traditional Indian wedding is that while the wedding can last up to 10 days, the groom and bride do not actually get to see each other until the actual marriage ceremony on the last day.
Megha. The most beautiful Indian bride I have ever seen.
First the groom's side lifts him up...
... then the bride's side lifts her up. Then she puts her flower neckless around his neck. Then vice versa. This ritual is comparable with the ring exchange in Europe.
Sister and brother
The newly wed posing for everyone to take pics. Unlike in Europe, it is not common to smile for the cameras.
Megha and Rahul in their beautiful Indian wedding dresses. Megha's outfit was decorated with precious stone work from head to toe. I can only imagine how many kilos it must have weighed.
Unlike weddings back home, the whole marriage ceremony, rituals and celebration went on for the whole night and most people didn't catch any sleep till the following evening. Not only the youngsters but almost EVERYONE stayed up to party all night long.
As tradition has it, Megha awaits her husband in the wedding chamber (Rahul's nicely decorated bed)
Last but not least, while married couples usually move to a place of their own, it is common for Indian women to move with her in-laws after marriage. With marriage the ties to her own family weaken as she is now seen as belonging to her husband's family.