Monday, June 16, 2008

Our very own Monsoon Wedding

I spent the past weekend in the 'burgh at my cousin's wedding. Normally, it's your typical rehearsal dinner, followed by the ceremony/reception the next night, and then a brunch the next morning. Well, this wedding was very different since my cousin's wife (first time I've said/written that one) is Indian. They did do a Jewish ceremony, but that was after the lavish Hindu ceremony earlier in the afternoon.

I only showed up for the festivities on Friday, but in reality they started the celebrations a week earlier with parties almost every night. My Aunt and cousins must've been exhausted by the end of it all b/c I was wiped out after just a few nights!

Friday night started out w/ the rehearsal dinner at the Grand Concourse in Station Square. What a beautiful building. I don't think my pictures really give you an idea of the intricacy of the stained glass windows. Wow! I ended up sitting w/ some of Anjali's cousins and had a great time learning more about Indian customs and just chatting them up. Some had literally just flown in from India 2 days prior! Here's a picture of part of the family w/ the bride and groom to be:

There were ceremonies that took place during the day on Sthat we didn't attend. These were the purity and cleansing ceremonies for the bride. Also at the ceremony she is painted w/ henna. I couldn't get over how beautiful Anj looked when she showed up at the Sangeet that night.

Alex said that Anj looked like the princess Mulan (she's a little obsessed w/ princesses at the moment).

Saturday night we had the Sangeet at the Concordia Club near Pitt's campus in Oakland. This was another beautiful building. It was mostly Anjali's family and you would not believe the saris the women were wearing. They were so beautiful. And the jewelry! The tables were covered with bangle bracelets for folks to put on and bindis (the jewel between the eyebrows). They also had henna artists upstairs so folks could get their hands painted. I got both my hand and my arm painted.

My mom, aunt, grandmother and great-aunt also got their hands painted.

While this was going on, there were several individual dance performances and then everyone got out on the dance floor and danced to Indian music. After a while we got up and started dancing as well. Turns out my hippie/deadhead style of dancing blended in nicely. ;-)

The food was great all weekend. They had Indian buffets which my friend Maria would have been jealous of. My dad, on the other hand, refused to touch the food. He wasn't as adventurous as some. After the Sangeet we ended up stopping at The O, a fixture near the Pitt campus, so he and my mom could get something to eat. I hadn't been there in ages.

The next day was the actual wedding. By then, we felt like we had already had the wedding reception and there was still more to come. As part of the Hindu ceremony, the grooms family walks in a procession to the brides family, with groom following behind on a horse. The bride's family then welcomes the groom's family and brings them inside to the wedding ceremony. So, here we were, a bunch of white, jewish folk that can't dance, following a van pumping Indian music and "dancing" as we are led to the hotel (about a 1/4 mile away). It was actually quite fun. Some members of Anj's family were with us, telling us what to do and, better yet, showing us how to dance to the music. Turn the light bulb, then turn the light bulb with your other hand, then wash yourself with the towel, etc. It actually made sense while you were doing it.

Alex even got into the dancing . . .

Problem was it was a hot, sunny day and there was no shade. By the time we met up w/ the bride's family and danced some more, I was sopping wet and had to go upstairs and dry off. Sigh. As I said before, the ceremony was beautiful and Anj's sari was, well, magnificent.

It was also great to see Michael in a turban, etc. I had never been a Hindu wedding before. I didn't have much of a clue as to what was going on, but it was really neat to watch the different offerings that were made, the chanting, and the family participation. It was also neat to see the similarities between Jewish and Hindu traditions.

The Jewish ceremony was much shorter, but a little emotional when my cousin put on our grandfather's tallis. It was hard not think we wish he had been there for this since he and Michael had a special bond. Alex was the flower girl and did an excellent job!

I must say, although the 2 ceremonies were very different, they blended them nicely so that the rings were not actually exchanged until the very end, even though there was a point in the Hindu ceremony for it to occur.

That night was the reception, and although our family was wearing the same thing, everyone in Anj's family had changed again and were wearing new saris. I was amazed at all of the clothing changes. Again, Anj's sari was beautiful. I had to leave early to fly back to NJ, but not before we danced a bunch on the dance floor.

In all, it was a great time. These pictures really don't do it justice, but are a small glimpse of the festivities.

And, although she was too young to be a part of everything, how can I not include a picture of little Leah who is getting cuter and cuter by the day!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

What a wonderful wedding! I had no idea that is was going to be way more than the standard chuppah affair.

Love the pic of your parents at the dirty O, but what, no O-fries?