...Loud music, dancing, and horses filled the street outside of our house all day. Tonight, another one of our neighbors, named Ambuj, wed his new wife, Abha, through an arranged marriage. Although the marriage venue was only about 35 miles away on the other side of New Delhi, it took us more than two hours to get there. We planned to leave at six, left at seven, and arrived at nine. We must have passed at least 20 other weddings on the way. Fireworks and bands filled the streets throughout Delhi. Luckily, we still arrived before the groom and his parade consisting of a full band, horse drawn carriage, and dozens of dancing relatives.
It was certainly a celebration! We could hear the band and procession coming from far away. Another wedding was taking place across the street as well as two more just down the block. When we were invited to the wedding last week, I was specifically requested to dance and wear the same outfit as in last month's wedding. As soon as the groom's family saw me, they whisked me into the dancing. The curly toes of my jooties were repetitively flattened by all of the stomping feet.
There were many similarities to the last wedding. We danced outside for at least 15 minutes before the groom and his men were stopped at the front of the venue by all of the bride's female relatives. The groom received blessings, food, gifts, and new coatings to the tilak on his forehead.
The groom's brothers and cousins wasted no time in getting the party started. The dancing continued directly to the dance floor while the procession continued.
After some time, we all joined in the dancing. The other volunteers had befriended this lady in previous events on previous days. She is the wife of one of the groom's relatives. Every time I have seen her, she has been wearing extraordinarily gorgeous sarees and jewelry.
After about 30 minutes, the party music suddenly gave way to slow spiritual-sounding music. The bride emerged from the small room she had been hiding in. Decorated with 30 pounds of jewels and garments, the bride was slowly escorted to the stage by her immediate family.
Once on the stage, the austerity of the event gave way to jovial celebration. Unexpectedly, the bride and groom were lifted up by their respective families while they adorned each other in massive garlands. Everyone was laughing and cheering at the fun-loving change of pace.
To be a part of events like this is very special. I was thrilled just to be able to attend one wedding. Now I have been to two and have been invited to yet another! However, the wedding to come is of one of our 16-year-old female students in the slum. That will be quite the sight to see!