I love weddings and I have been to many around the world…Chinese, Tamil, Malay, Greek, Jewish…heck I’m an expert wedding attendee. I have always heard how grand some Indian weddings can be. However after attending my first “non Trinidad style” one in Bangkok, I still sometimes contemplate eloping for mines. Seven functions in six days…SIX days of dressing up, dancing, drinking, eating, more drinking and eating. Add jetlag into that mix and overwhelmed is putting it lightly for this Trini!
I grew up with Hindu weddings in Trinidad being three days of festivities – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I thought that was long enough! And as far as I knew everyone fasted and it was an all vegetarian affair. This one had NO fasting (wait till I tell people back home about that!) and we were in for six days of a Punjabi/Sindhi style extravaganza.
What I’ve learnt from this wedding and why eloping seems like a good option:
The Sangeet Ceremony (dance party), held here at the Conrad Hotel ballroom, is really a Bollywood movie production, don’t be fooled. These cameramen around make you feel as if you are going to be in the latest Shah Rukh Khan movie!
Not only does the family and friends have dance performances, the foreign friends have to also dance a Bollywood number! Hello? Yes you are supplied with a private dance teacher mere hours before the function, jetlag or no jetlag. It’s ok to bail out of the dance last minute! If you are of Indian decent like me, no one will notice you are missing!
Or you can choose to go brave! When you forget the moves to the Hindi song you are dancing too, make up your own and smile ALOT!
Be prepared to be pulled onto the dancefloor, nevermind you may look like the night’s entertainment learning to dance to bhangra music in front of 600 strangers! The constant flow of drinks make you forget that…you put on your best as the cameramen film you!
Ginormous wedding cakes are the norm, don’t be shocked to see the bride and groom requiring a samurai sword to cut it. It’s perfectly normal in Bangkok.
Even if you have already eaten from the extensive buffet, be prepared for everyone to come and insist you eat again and again. They ignore your “I’m full” comments so don’t even bother.
At the Mehindi (henna) ceremony be prepared to eat some more, mingle with the ladies, watch them dance, sing and talk…women do afterall talk a lot!
Also be prepared to sit for hours whilst the bride’s henna dries. If you are as lucky as me, you get the honor of scrubbing that shit off her after entertaining her for hours!!
The ladies like to upstage the men apparently. They have their very own “ladies only Sangeet” since they are just so special. Thankfully it is a lunchtime event and will include more food to be eaten. You get to watch them entertain you with song and more dancing.
It’s totally acceptable to think you are watching a Bollywood aerobics class for the Aunties when the private dance instructor starts to lead. Run and hide before he pulls you in too!
Attending a Sindhi ceremony where, along with the Punjabi bride, you learn what this tradition is all about as it is performed…to HER and not you! Off course you take pics of her WTF expressions!
Be nice to the bride and help hold her bouquet…you know more dancing is coming and want to get out of it!
So said so done…the foreigners get pulled in to dance! Be warned!
MORE FOOD! Yes it’s another ceremony, this time for the bride’s uncles to put ceremonial bangles on for her.
Perfectly acceptable to get emotional when the bride’s uncles feed her and put on the ceremonial red bangles. It’s a rather touching moment.
By day five you forget the wedding ceremony hasn’t happened yet. But apparently they save that for last! At the Gurdwara you count all seven rounds as they make their vows and watch as the groom is ready to pull his bride away from her father!
If you smile long enough after the gazillion photos you’ve starred in from the previous days…you eventually start looking and feeling like a local Punjabi!
At the Doli (evening ceremony), before the bride can leave home, the groom and his men are dared to do all sorts of things by the young women. It’s okay to be shocked, I was too. What happens in soi 34, stays in soi 34?
Although you may be feeling a little constipated, or six months pregnant, from all the Indian and Thai foods you have been eating the last few days, don’t worry the family is there to make you eat AGAIN! They will ignore your WTF looks and folded arms indicating your refusal.
Yes you may suffer from strange feelings at this point after eating enough food for a month, but please be mindful in the transport to be polite. There are signs like these to remind you…please oblige for everyone’s sake!
Just when you thought it was all over, there is ANOTHER reception! This time at the grand Sheraton Hotel…with MORE FOOD!
In case you missed the lesson on cutting a ginormous cake with a samurai sword the first night, they do it again…pay attention!
And to end a week of festivities…a 1920’s themed party! It’s acceptable at this point to think the end is near and look all excited!
At this point you should have perfected your “shaking and twisting” to bhangra music, secretly hoping this is the last time you will ever do it! Think of it as a good workout for all that food you have eaten!
The sheer grandness and extravagance of these weddings is the norm here, these Punjabis can party! Well we Trini’s too…just Carnival style!
We flew in from Trinidad, Australia and Malaysia to celebrate our friend’s wedding but what we ended up celebrating was the love of the couple, their family and their friends, who clearly after mingling with each other for six consecutive days did not tire of each other nor did they seem affected by the food quantity as we were! We are now honorary Punjabis!