Top Left: Misha (Bride) getting her henna completed.
Top Right; The final henna on A.Gilfellon.
Bottom Left:: Bride and groom.
Bottom Right: The bride and grooms family pictured with Amanda and Matt.
Pictured above: Misha and husband with family.
Pictured bottom right: Amanda and Matt with wedding guests.
In 2010 I taught with and lived with a teacher, Misha, in Bencubbin. She was born in Australia to Indian parents and kept up a lot of traditional Hindi practices. One thing she was never going to do was have an arranged marriage, although her Mum told me she had tried when Misha was 15! She knew she was expected to marry an Indian, and she was happy with that.
She finally met the perfect man (who lived in Brisbane) and they were engaged in October 2016. She moved to be closer to him in 2017 and her full time job for the first half of the year was as a wedding planner. We were thrilled to be given an invite to the celebration in Bali. They held it there as the bride comes from an extremely large family (her parents both have 6 siblings!). 350 people were invited and only 80 came, which they were very happy with. 5 continents were represented and 8 countries. There were about 20 westerners there from schools Misha had taught at, but only 2 people Matt and I already knew from Bencubbin.
The first event in the wedding was a called ‘Mehndi, Sangeet and Welcome’ and was hosted by the bride’s family. It was basically an introduction to the wedding. The ladies were all invited to have henna put on their hands (there were 4 henna artists there on the night, although 2 were taken up with Misha for over an hour). There was some traditional dancing by younger girls, lots of dancing with a live DJ and with a delicious buffet dinner of Indian food this event felt like a wedding reception.
The second event was the next morning. It was called ‘Santek and Pithi’ and it was a special ceremony to bless the bride and groom. This ceremony used a Hindu priest who spoke in Sanskrit. Not even the bride or groom understood it. There needed to be a break in between the ceremony for the bride and groom to shower, as Misha was covered in turmeric paste and Darshan had egg all through his hair.
The next day we were invited outside for the traditional wedding ceremony. The priest was dressed in clothes we were told were given to him by the Maharaja. At the beginning we saw the groom coming down the path with his family. They were making noise, singing and banging instruments as they came. We found out that as a lot of Indian weddings in the past involved young children, they try to make the day fun with games throughout, and we saw that when the groom had to get up onto a stool and the bride’s family had to steal his shoes! Then they commenced a funny conversation about bartering and what the bride’s family had to pay for her marriage. This was in jest, as there was no actual dowry. This wedding ceremony went for 3 hours (under a very hot and humid marquee) and we were all extremely warm when suddenly we noticed they had lit a fire on the stage! We would have liked to know more about what was going on but as it was all in Sanskrit again we could only follow and try to keep up. I do know that they discussed all of the planets and asked Ganesh to take away all obstacles for the couple. It was all beautiful and a lovely celebration of their love and marriage, and we all had a giggle when the groom got in trouble for kissing the bride too early! After this we were invited back for lunch in the ballroom which was delicious and air-conditioned thank fully.
That evening we had the last event which was the wedding reception. This was back outside. We were informed that this was never included in a traditional Indian wedding however had been brought in through Westerners getting married. It was a pretty typical Western reception and a lot of fun and dancing (including Father of the bride dancing for 4 repeats of the song ‘We are family’.)
Overall it was a lovely experience, and one I’m sure we won’t be having again. We were amazed with all the different traditional Indian outfits and saris and it was hard to pick favourites. The men and women looked lovely and much more practical for the weather than the Western men with their suits on. We got to talk to a lot of the family and Indian guests and they were warm and welcoming.
By Amanda Gilfellon