Well, I think it’s safe to say that this weekend’s Indian wedding festivities were beyond our wildest dreams. I wore traditional Indian attire, which I rented, to two different events, was part of a 9:30am dance party which shut down part of Park Avenue for four blocks while my dear friend rode towards the Waldorf on a white horse, and danced for hours. This wedding left many of shaking our heads as traditional Christian weddings just don’t compare to the ritual and tradition of the Indian weddings. So much took place during the wedding weekend that I am going to split it into two posts. Today’s post is going to cover the first two days while tomorrow will cover the third day and tips for attending an Indian wedding!
The event, which took place over three days, was a wonderful blend of Indian culture with New York glam. While the couple now lives in Atlanta, they spent much of their time dating in New York City and Asha completed her dermatology residence in New York last year.
The weekend kicked off with a sunset cruise on the Hudson. Even though we lived in New York City for five years, this was my first sunset cruise! The weather cooperated, allowing gorgeous sunset views of the city and Statue of Liberty. We spent most of our time on the top deck, catching up with old friends or dancing to the awesome music. Meanwhile, on the lower deck, there were two women applying henna to the women’s hands and palms. Part of the Indian culture, mehendi or henna is a common way to celebrate religious events and weddings.
Friday morning, less than 12 hours after we disembarked from the ship, a small group of us arrived at the Waldorf for Raj’s Maglik Shubh Prasango. The Mangalik Shubh Prasango is a traditional religious event held the day before the wedding. The bride and groom have separate ceremonies with their friends and family members. While the language barrier made it impossible to understand everything, just watching the ritual was magical. In addition, their minister did a good job translating and explaining the major parts of the ritual.
The ceremony, which lasts around two hours, revolves around the cleansing of the soul and multiple rituals, including one in which guests apply turmeric paste to the groom’s face. Turmeric is thought to have cleansing powers. The below picture was taken right after we each used our ring finger to apply turmeric to his face.
After a large Indian lunch feast, the group had a five hour break before we were back at the Waldorf for the Garba & Sangeet. An Indian dance party which takes place the night before the wedding ceremony, this evening was so much fun! It included professional dancers who performed impressive routines before leading the group in more than an hour of traditional Indian dancing, known as Dandiya.
Dandiya is performed in a circle, with both genders participating, as they dance and use sticks, similar to drumsticks, as props. The dancers as well as the Indians in attendance were patient with those of us who were new to the dance, helping us learn and enjoy by the end of the evening. For this event it was suggested that guests could wear Indian Garba attire, known as gharga, or comfortable loose skirts. The bride and groom served signature cocktails to keep the dancers hydrated and refreshed – tamarind margarita (my favorite) and watermelon mojito.
Aren’t Raj and Asha’s gorgeous in their pink and gold attire? So elegant and vibrant!
The Waldorf Astoria lobby entrance and ballrooms were completely transformed with flowers, lighting, draping and props! It amazes me that just four hours before this scene was plain off-white walls and a marble floor. Gorgeous!
I can’t take credit for all of these pictures as some of them come from the wedding hashtag’s instagram feed #rashanyc2015.
Have you been to an Indian wedding before?