What an INCREDIBLE experience.
It is hard for me to put such a life changing trip into words. Nothing I say, and not even any pictures I took, could ever accurately describe the time we experienced at this Rajasthani wedding.
When I first met the groom, Maddy (Madhure), we were at orientation on our first day of graduate school at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. And in a one year master’s program, you get to know your classmates really quickly. So it didn’t take long before I realized that I knew I was going to work really well with Maddy. He has a background in engineering and does great under stressful situations (**Speaking of stressful, remember that one time our two groups almost got dropped from the program because of a stupid misjudgment by our accounting professor!? That’s another story for another day, haha). As a diverse group of students we talked about EVERYTHING, we were a big family. One hot topic was religion and culture, and in fact a handful of us (Hindu, Christian, Catholic, and Mormon) all prayed together before one of our final exams. Anytime the topic of marriage came up I would always look at Maddy and tell him, “No matter what, I AM going to your wedding one day!”. I had heard so many wonderful things about Indian weddings and have always loved the way they are portrayed in movies. I wanted to wear the colors and eat the food. Little did I know, it was even better than I could have imagined.
The wedding lasted Five days and each day brought something new:
was for the groom and his friends + family, sort of like a bachelor party to celebrate one last time before he is married. All the women had their turn getting henna tattoos while there were numerous dance numbers and singing performances by all the guests. Maddy’s family showered us with gifts. They gave us many traditional outfits to wear for the days to come, jewelry, food, and so much love!
the barat, was spent traveling from Aurangabad to their destination wedding, Lonavla. We were welcomed by the bride’s family with beads, sashes, bindi, and nose jewelry. And of course we ate and ate and ate. That night there were dance performances by professionals as well as by the wedding party. It was so entertaining! There were videos highlighting both the bride and the groom, and even a fashion show!
the actual wedding day. It started with a procession of dancing and music complete with colorful fabric draped in all directions. The groom was on a beautifully embellished horse as a man walked behind with a large umbrella. There were live drummers playing and energizing the whole crowd. This was by far my favorite couple of hours of the WHOLE wedding! Watching Maddy’s beautiful mother and sister-in-law (Sunita and Naina), manifest their happiness through dance was just so inspiring. I could feel the joy overflowing and it was contagious down to my soul. Although a ceremony followed, Maddy and his bride, Deshana, were not quite “married” until that night. Because the Hindu astrology plays such a roll in their culture, the final wedding ceremony was not until 4:00 am during the Phere, under the strategically aligned stars. This portion of the festivities are just for the close family, but Maddy’s family treated me as one of their own so I was able to sit up front right next to his mom during these extraordinary moments.
was another travel day back to Aurangabad. We stopped by a local clothing store where another family member, the lovely Sheela, treated us to yet another gorgeous outfit. This evening was to welcome Deshana into the Desarda home, the Grahe Pravesh. One tradition that I found so intriguing was this: As she enters the home for the first time as a new Desarda daughter, the entry way is lined with plates. Maddy takes his sword and moves each plate creating a “mess”, so to speak. Deshana must then pick each plate up one-by-one, WITH Sunita, Maddy’s mom, WITHOUT making any clinks or sounds. She does this with EACH female member of his family, and it represents unity, that she won’t be a “noise maker”, and that she will work well alongside the other women in the house.
we went site seeing! Maddy was gracious enough to plan a day for his assistant to take us all around Aurangabad (pics and another post on that to come!). This final night was for a public reception. There were well over 1,500 local people attending to see the new couple and congratulate them! So. Much. Food. Since Hindus mostly refrain from drinking alcohol, there were sooo many virgin drink options and we could (and did) try them all!
I cannot ever say thank you to Maddy and his family enough for including us and helping us fall in love with their culture and traditions. I feel so fortunate to have met such wonderful people and to now have family in India! ♡ 🇮🇳