Monday Postcard #40 – Indian Weddings for Newbies
Spending my teenage and student years in Vienna, my cultural influences were regionally limited – mostly Austrian, German and, of course, American due to all the movies we watched. Weddings in white were the norm and I actually never thought about how other cultures celebrate that day. When I moved to China to study, I saw very different types of weddings for the first time. And as my partner has an Indian background, I am now on my way to becoming a regular at Indian weddings. 😉
When I say that I am dating somebody with an Indian background, I hear excited remarks like “Wow, I love those Bollywood weddings!” or “All those outfits, jewellery and colours.” And yes, I have to agree these types of weddings are not only colourful but also big, loud and fun. Let me share what I have experienced so far.
(On a side note: I am still fairly new to all this. I am aware that some readers will be pros in that field. My goal here is to introduce readers who have never been to any such wedding before. But to all the pros: please feel free to share your experience in the comments!)
Bring on the Glam!
I love to dress up and I have the feeling that weddings in Austria have become more and more casual. I have been to some weddings where some women showed up in beach dresses. Call me conservative but I think on such a day, everybody should look their best. And it is a great excuse to glam up. Wear colours, a lot of jewellery and take your makeup to the next level.
If you do not have an Indian background yourself like me, it is OK to wear Western clothes. You can then opt for a very colourful dress. But actually, I really love the Indian festive outfits. Depending on the background of the family – Hindus, Muslim, regional backgrounds, more or less traditional, etc. – you may need to cover up. But still, a crop top is nothing out of the ordinary; no matter at which age.
Most people would think that Saris are the outfit to choose. But there are actually many more options. I usually wear a combination of a long skirt and crop top and a scarf which either rests on one shoulder and is connected with your skirt or it can also cover the front if the party is more conservative. Another option is to a kind of tunic and pants. But there are now so many variations and fashion trends that it is really hard to choose your favourite outfit.
Bling, bling, bling
It is time to go bold when it comes to jewellery. I love big earrings and also gold bangles. But anything which matches your outfit is allowed. Pieces which may be considered too much in Europe now have the chance to shine.
Multiple Days and Functions
Most of the Indian weddings I have been to spanned over three to four days. Depending on your relationship with the family, you are invited to all or some of them. The main event is usually the Sangeet, an evening with dancing and speeches. The Mehndi is a function for the women one day before the main event. Mehndi, also known as henna, is associated with good luck. During the Mehndi ceremony, the bride and her female guests can get some henna tattoos. Most of the couples of my age also organize events around these two for overseas guests.
If you are close to the couple, you will be asked to participate in a dance. The main reason to participate is to show support for your friends/family. It is not about delivering a perfect performance. Before my very first dance I was so nervous but in the end it was a lot of fun to dance in the group. Even if you are the worst dancer in the world, it is about owning the stage. 😉
Meet New People
Because Indian weddings are usually very big – for European standards enormous, hosting from 200 up to 1,000 guests – it is very easy to meet new people. Believe me, wherever you come from, it is easy to bond if you all suck at dancing and share the passion for partying.
I am off to bed now, I probably had around three hours of sleep last night as I just came back from a wedding in Singapore. Have you been to an Indian wedding? What did you enjoy about it?