My mom kinda dropped the ball on writing for you guys. It was hard for her to do in India, I’ll give her that….
I want to tell you the story in full, and in chronological order… But that’s not always possible. Forgive me for not telling the stories as they happen. I get caught up between these monumental events. In fact… I never finished the story about Nepal, or returning to the US. I got busy with life and my wedding. So that’s the thing – we’re married! ♥ And it all happened so fast…
A few days before leaving the US, I was designing my wedding invitations. When I arrived, those designs were being printed. And the day and a half before my wedding, they were distributed.
It was all a blur of going shopping for suits, being measured for my saree – twice, choosing my earrings, selecting my choori (bridal bangles), having my mehndi (henna) done, being dolled up and just sitting and waiting to be picked up and taken to my wedding. WOW.
I didn’t even get to select the gifts for his family from my side due to a series of delays in my flight (part of the story you don’t know yet) and the gifts I had already brought from the US were in my luggage that was lost by the airline we traveled with. It was embarrassing for me, though everyone was very understanding, and felt sad that I lost my things.
Eventually, I was picked up and taken to my Indian family’s home. On the way, I saw DN dressed up in the front seat. He looked incredibly handsome in his wedding sherwani and sehra (wedding suit and decorative turban, also known as pagdi).
Long story short, this family gave me away at a ceremony called Kanyadaan, in my wedding, and in DN’s words they “more than adopted” me. Now they treat me as their daughter, and I treat them as my parents. It’s all very beautiful.
I stayed at their home with my mom as I waited to go to my wedding, and could hear the music playing from the wedding garden nearby. That was going to be my wedding, but guests were still arriving, and everything was being set up.
When it was time, they whisked me away. I entered the garden just after dark and was instructed to walk slowly so the cameras could properly take pictures and video. I walked until I reached a room where I was then assembled. They applied bridal jewelry and kajal (eyeliner) as my mom watched, misty eyed.
Before I knew what was happening, I was instructed to get up, leave the room, and was handed a handful of rice. I had no idea what to do, but they instructed me to throw it at my husband. Because I couldn’t understand them, I messed that up. We all had a good laugh.
I then waited in that room until it was time to walk to the stage to sit with my husband. After some time, we exchanged garlands – part of the process of marrying each other. The crowd of hundreds cheered. We were then interviewed by several news stations, and then sat on stage while everyone joined us to take pictures.
When it was time, I left the stage to sit with my mom and prepare for the Kanyadaan ceremony. We drank juice and talked a bit while we waited. My mom was overwhelmed and exhausted.
The Kanyadaan ceremony was quite beautiful, but that, and every ceremony following was long and confusing.
Touch the idol, touch the tree, sprinkle water, chant a phrase, offer money, and repeat three times. This is what each ceremony was like, and DN also had no idea what was going on, or what to expect. His cousin-brother (male cousin) was translating everything in English, but sometimes the panditji (Hindu priest) was speaking too quickly to keep up with.
He applied sindoor (a red powder also called kum kum) on my maang (hairline, center part), tied the mangalsutra (sacred wedding necklace, symbolizes marriage like a wedding ring) around my neck, and the panditji lit the mangal phere (the sacred fire) some time after that.
As we started walking around the fire, symbolizing uniting before God and the five elements, it started pouring rain.
All of the surrounding family jumped up. Some fled, and led my mom to the room to take shelter, and some stayed to help protect us and the fire from the rain. Like pillars in the Pantheon, each person held the top of the tent tightly, high above their heads. And it was successful! The rain never came in, and we finished walking around the fire with no problems. It was very symbolic, and we considered it a gift from God.
I said goodbye to my mom by the end of the night, and returned to my husband’s home as a new bride.
Upon entering his home, I kicked over a jar of rice, and then stepped in a basin of mahawar (a stain created with water, turmeric, and kum kum) and walked across the house.
I sat on a rug, my husband sat in a chair nearby. I struggled to learn
the art of ghoonghat – covering my head and eyes with the pallu (loose end of the saree). I sat there as many women, young and old, piled in and sat around me. They sang throaty symbolic wedding songs and played the drums. I sat until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, and I informed my new cousin-sister (female cousin) that I was ready to sleep.
I was led to a room where I slept on the same bed as two children. Two other women were sleeping on the floor.
The following days were filled with ceremony after ceremony, and several more news interviews.
Read our story published in Bhaskar.com here. Warning, it’s in Hindi.