Four Days

This is a post about the sanskrit wedding ritual (yes, that group of people that gave us this thing called "written language").

A hindu wedding is at sunset and then that night the bride and grooms friends and family party until dawn. The morning of that second day, in the blue hour, the brides family starts bargaining with the groom's family and friends. They won't even let him go to the restroom. Its a serious proposition: this money is not a dowry, its a sum that will finance a really cool party that the bride's friends and family get to throw later (it can happen any time, a week a month later - no kids allowed - its sort of movie and restaurant money, in some sense).

So, at dawn on the first day, the bleary eyed groom agrees to an amount and it is paid to a due representative of the bride's close friends and family who will store and account for it later. The bride and groom will then rest a bit. The afternoon of the first day is the ceremony of "the wedding festival gone bad" or bashibiyah. This is a wedding ceremony, similiar to the main ceremony but smaller - that celebrates end of the formal festival. Then, at night the bride will be taken to the grooms home , where the mother of the groom will ululate as she is greeted. They will sleep this night separately, at the home of the groom.

On the dawn of the second day, the groom and bride will spend a nice day together. This is just a day of congenial companionship between friends and family and there isn't much scheduled. The groom will help his mom , that day to get everything ready for the next day. Rituals are ongoing through all of this, little ones. The aesthetic is really important. Honestly, if its not fun, its not really worship. Thats the paradox and thats why so many people come to India to awaken spiritually - it is the forge of the worldview of buddhism, writing, mathematics and art. Columbus may have had personal reasons for wanting to find India, when he was discovering America. We will never know, its just that sacrifice, and ritual are involving things and not really as formal as you might think.

On the dawn of the third, the bride and groom do what? They get ready for a big party. There will be small rituals in the morning, and then they get ready for a big party in the evening. This is sort of like the reception you get immediately after a weeding. And that night, the bride and groom will meet each other in home of the groom. And there will be flowers on the bed. And thorns. Ok. Just kidding. =)

So the bride will await the groom on this third night, and this will be , for some, the first time they've ever really met alone. In modern india, about one in two marriages , this will be the first real time they will spend alone together.

The morning of the fourth day will come upon the newly married couple who will breakfast with the grooms father and mother. The bride will sit down at the breakfast table with her new family, and they will all talk and enjoy each others company. The bride is not supposed to talk too much, but an educated bride will talk. And if she does talk too much the parents will talk about it a few months later. Everyone has to learn how to adjust.

Then on the fourth day, the bride and groom may go off to another place on a honeymoon, or you may choose not to go anywhere. Normally however, the bride and groom will go somewhere, perhaps to town. There is nothing formal set for a big trip anywhere, the bride and groom may go off somewhere on vacation anytime afterward. And the husband and his +entire family+ will think they have acquired free skilled labor.

And then the husband realizes that he is no longer the boss. Of anything! Which is good, because we males realize secretly that we have seen the bosses job. And we don't want it ! :)


M@ said…
I just saw that film "Earth" in the trilogy of Indian movies that's fairly well known. I was reminded of my Indian friend, who recently returned to his country and plans to participate in the "collaborative" process of selecting a bride.

A strange and interesting culture. I'd love to see this guy's wedding.
its a kick in the pants.
not as big a kick as this one..

weddings are like christmas over there