Big Fat Indian Wedding: An American Perspective by Megan Wilde
As a singer – I want to thank Saif Rahman Sozib for inviting me to share my experience in India as a guest contributor.
Drum circles gleefully banging down the street, auto brigades zig-zagging, honking, and swarming through Delhi’s crowded metropolis, and an opulently dressed bridegroom leads the way on a horse followed by a brass band – Clearly, it is wedding season in India.
At the invitation of world-class India fashion designer Anjana Misra(who can now only be described as my personal fairy godmother), I arrived for my first Indian wedding at All Heavens Gold – a rose-gold palace like venue complete with flying Pegasus’, regal pillars, and luxurious ballrooms. To prepare for the evening, we spent the day shuffling and picking through colorful embroidered lehengas and elegant saris. Anjana’s dresses were fresh off the Indian Vogue Runway and I was honored to wear any of her beautiful creations.
Weddings in India are not events that are a few hours like in America – many have ceremonies everyday and last for a week. These ceremonies include hand painting henna designs, families learning choreography for Bollywood style dance-offs, and the Haldi ceremony – a pre-wedding tradition where sides of the family take turns rubbing a mixture of turmeric, oil, and water onto the skin and clothes of the bride and grooms.
I was decidedly dressed in a bright multi-layered fuchsia and gold lehenga gown, and clasped the many layers of my skirt in my hand as I walked through the chaotic street of Delhi (which sometimes features peacocks and cows as fellow travelers) into All Heaven’s Gold. Chandeliers glittered above the marble floors and the ornate gold and mirrored walls were lined at every corner with shiny India food buffets. It was every secret fat kid’s oasis (not that I would know…).
My American self immediately identified round bite-sized donuts covered in maple syrup. These are called Gulab Jamun, which are balls of Khoya and rosewater dripping with sugar syrup. There were steaming silver trays of dishes like Mattar Paneer– a spicy and creamy tomato based curry with peas and cottage cheese (in cubed form, what!). Alcohol is not served because the wedding is being put on by the Brahmin family. This is the highest ranking caste in the traditional Hindu caste system and noted for priests, sacred right’s givers, and teachers. This generally means no alcohol, no meat, and no killing bugs (as I learned – they are to be cupped gently, serenaded with lullabies, and taken safely outside).
After trying to express what my job is to non-English speaking Indians – I discovered all I have to do is open my mouth and sing the legendary A.R. Rahman’s, “Humma Humma” and they understand. As a singer, I have learned it does not matter what wedding you go to on what continent – you will undoubtedly be asked to sing. I was honored to perform Titanic’s, “My Heart Will Go On” for the beautiful bride and beaming groom. It never ceases to amaze me how music can pierce across cultural and language boundary lines to touch the human heart.
We ended the fairy-tale night dancing with reckless abandon to the speaker-thumping sounds of Bollywood dance music. Thank you to the Misra family for allowing me to partake in your beautiful day – and thank you to the staff at Dailymail for allowing me to share my experience.