How to Get Married in South India in 1,468 Easy Steps!

Step 1 0800 hrs: pack up your family, the kittens, get your best wedding saris, pile everyone into the car. Ensure you have many, many snacks. Drive all around town picking up token white invitees (that’s George and I) and Grandma.
Step 2 1100 hrs: Drive 250km to venue, Tirupati. Encourage children to eat sugary snacks and then ‘enjoy’ the entertainment as they bounce off the walls. Stop to feed the monkeys on the way. (Actual monkeys).
Step 3 1300 hrs: Stop and feed the monkeys (children and family).
Step 4 1630 hrs: Arrive at rather dilapidated hotel. Try to have a nap.

Our hotel… looks promising. Was not.

Step 5 1700 hrs: Get changed into wedding outfit number one. I was told ‘casual’ was the dress code for this part of the wedding, so I picked my nicest salwaar kurta. The ACTUAL dress code was ‘the brightest, sparkliest saree with enough bling to sink a small ship, and with more gold jewelry than you thought possible to wear’.

That face! Gorgeous.

Step 6 1800 hrs: Arrive at reception. Mill around. Eat snacks.
Step 7 1830 hrs: Sit in the reception hall and await the bride and groom Watch children get bored and start destroying everything in sight.
Step 8 1900 hrs: Bride and groom stand on stage, looking stunning. Guest #1 goes on stage, shakes hands with bride and groom, and gives their gift. Photographer takes photo. Guest #1 leaves stage.
Step 9 1904 hrs: Guest #2 goes on stage, shakes hands with bride and groom, and gives their gift. Photographer takes photo. Guest #2 leaves stage.


Repeat ad infinitum

Step 65 2045 hrs: Sit down with your friends and family at a long table, covered in paper. Be served a traditional South-Indian thali, a selection of various vegetarian dishes served on  large palm leaf.

This is not the actual meal we had but this is a thali.

DELICIOUSNESS ABOUNDS. Please note that bride and groom are still sitting receiving guests.
Step 66 2123 hrs: Guest #58 goes on stage, shakes hands with bride and groom, and gives their gift. Photographer takes photo. Guest #58 leaves stage.


Step 124 2300 hrs: Guest #116 leaves the stage.
Step 125 2220 hrs: (Yes we sneaked away before the end) Due to Hindu wedding and Hindu hotel, no alcohol is to be consumed on the premises. Book hotel room in a non-Hindu hotel, obtain alcohol, and very unwisely, drink.
Step 126 0100 hrs: Go back to actual hotel and fall asleep the second your head touches the pillow.
Step 127 0445 hrs: Awake to the phone ringing. Your saree-fitting friend reminding you to get up. Reluctantly pull yourself from the warmth and comfort of the enticing bed, and shower yourself, using buckets and cold water. India-hotel style. Very bracing.
Step 128 0530 hrs: Saree is fitted. This uses many safety pins. Once again, the dress code was communicated to me as being ‘traditional saree’. I went sparkly bling saree. It should have been woven silk saree.
Step 129 0600 hrs: Should be at the wedding. Everyone is milling around, children bored and swinging from the rafters.

My adopted family- Raj, Uma, Grandma, George, and Nikita
The only way to make Raj still for 20 seconds.
How to make a child sit still for 20 seconds… selfies.

Step 130 0630 hrs: Arrive at the wedding. Seat self in hall and await arrival of bride and groom.

Rubbing the bamboo pole.

Step 131 0645 hrs: Ceremony starts. All the relevant family are on stage, doing various tasks as assigned by the Priest. Hold this bamboo pole. Rub it with these food items. Now tie a bit of string around it. Now cover it with curd and make noises at it. Attach leaves to it.

The start of the ceremony- so colourful, the bride so beautiful.

Step 132 0700 hrs: Bride and groom arrive and are seated cross-legged on stage. Bride looks as though she would rather be mauled to death by hungry lions than be on that stage again.

Following the Priest’s instructions

Step  133 0701 hrs: Start long and indecipherable list of things that you have to do in order to have a prosperous and happy marriage.

Step 186 0758 hrs: Groom rubs father’s feet with something and then washes it off.

Blessing a coconut (I think)


Step 189 0815 hrs: Bride rubs fathers feet with something and then washes it off.

Step 258 0845 hrs: Breakfast thali! Yum yum… while still, on stage, the wedding continues.
Step 259- 1220 0952 hrs: Drape sheet in between bride and groom and get people to make yipping noises at them. Do other things. Bless coconuts. light things on fire.
Step 1221 1008 hrs: All file dutifully and stage and throw yellow rice at bride and groom. Remember by this stage, the bride and groom have been sitting cross-legged for hours…

Me and some absolutely gorgeous Indian women who made me feel like a giant. They told me I looked like a ‘doll’, or, less flatteringly, a ‘mannequin’

Step 1225 1028 hrs: Go back to hotel and have another nap. Promise the children you’ll go to the zoo, only to find out zoo is closed. Kids to behave like wild animals in lieu of actual wild animals.

George and I, now *actual* Indians.

Step 1226 1045 hrs: Lock children out of room and fall asleep.
Step 1227 1125 hrs: Children bang loudly on door and wake up grumpy tired adults.
Step 1228 1130 hrs: Get changed into salwaar kurta and sadly fold up saree :(. Play with children.
Step 1229 1230 hrs: Go back to wedding venue.
Step 1330 1245 hrs: Thali time!
Step 1331-1356 1325 hrs: Pile into car and have long-drawn-out process of retrieving luggage and people from various places. This is actually 26 steps in itself.
Step 1357 1402 hrs: Leave Tirupati. Pack people-mover full of people and luggage.
Step 1358 1404 hrs: Break up first fight between the tired children.
Repeat.

Step 1460 1915 hrs: Get back to Bangalore. Be very exhausted. Like, your limbs don’t even work any more. Get dropped off at apartment. Find food. Bed.
Step 1461 1930 hrs: The remainder of our group continue to the bride and groom’s house, where there is a puja, or blessings, until well after midnight.

I’m never marrying a South Indian. It doesn’t look like much fun. I’ve been assured North Indian weddings are full of dancing, and partying, so I’ll try and find an invite to one of them (and it’s another fabulous excuse to wear my saree again).

Indian wedding- tick!

p.s. Cleaning my phone up and found bonus squirrel video!

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