Wedding Dairy #3: The Rituals

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We are out for a family dinner, probably the last few dinners that I will have with my family being just their daughter. My mom reminisces on her own wedding, shedding a few tears in denial that I am no longer her little girl anymore. She goes on to explaining the rituals and traditions; how they are done, what do they each mean and more of preparing me for the years old tradition that I will partake in. From the 3 hour-long ceremony to the things I wear that day, each holds a valuable and cultural meaning behind it all.

It starts with mandap mahurat, where you do the inauguration of the wedding; then comes putting pithi on the bride and groom followed by henna on hands and feet…all this is done to beautify the couple; then comes a prayer ceremony to get the blessings of gods so the wedding is a smooth sail. Finally, comes the actual wedding ceremony, while the ceremony continues there is a group of singers who narrate the entire wedding and each ritual as it unfolds in form of songs. These are cultural and traditional wedding songs. The wedding as per the traditions is done in the witness of a fire; mainly four people take part in the ceremony: bride, groom and the bride’s parents. About an hours ceremony is just done between the bride’s parents and the groom, then comes the bride and joins them in. All this then leads to the very famous Indian 7 pheras (circles) around the fire. Where the guest showers the couple with flowers. About an hour more of a few more rituals and then finally its all done. Wait….still one more thing left… after dinner comes vidai, when the bride says goodbye to her family and goes on to her new home. This is always the highly emotional part of the wedding. This may come as a surprise to most, but Indian weddings are a complete emotional ride; there are happy tears, sad tears, laughter, and many amusing and fun ceremonies, which are somewhat like a competition between the bride and groom side guests; it keeps everyone entertained.

Once the newly married couple reaches their home, there are still a few more ceremonies to finish all pertaining to the welcoming of the new bride in the groom’s home. In the end, it’s a long and emotional day. But certainly, a kind of marriage to treasure and remember a lifetime. In less than 10 days this is about to become my reality and I cannot be more excited to experience it all.

Photo Courtesy: Google Images

Wedding Dairy #2: The Grind

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Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara

Indian’s are very superstitious people, we believe in destiny and karma and in the perfect alignment of the stars and the moon for doing auspicious things. First step is to come up with a wedding date; as you can already guess for an Indian couple, the date is not something we decide upon ourselves; it is based on our horoscopes and a priest, who puts out a few options to choose from that we as a family like the best among the list. Among the list, March 3rd was the winner for us. There is a total of 4 major functions surrounding the wedding in a spread of 4 days: Grah Shanti (auspicious puja ceremony), Mehndhi and Sangeet (henna and musical party), Wedding, and a Reception after party.

Next up was to decide on a destination. After bouncing back and forth between the States and India we finally decided upon having the wedding in India to get a more traditional and authentic feel. Now that we know where then came the task of finding that picture perfect venue in Gujarat. After sourcing all possible venues my heart was settled on the Laxmi Vilas Palace. It is a heritage property and an actual palace where the king and queen of Vadodara reside. They have banquet halls and lawns that they rent out for weddings and special occasions. For me, this palace was the perfect pick, it gave a royal touch and it couldn’t get more authentically Indian than this for me.

All along, save the date cards are being sent, since the wedding is set in India we have to give everyone ample time to plan their trip. Congratulations calls and messages are down pouring, Facebook profile picture is changing with the two of us in it and comments are flooding lol…wedding photo shoot is being arranged, hair and makeup appointments for all the events are being booked, among various other things happening, making this a sublime reality. Hard to believe that at the end of all this I get married and start a new chapter in my life.

Everything and every part of an Indian wedding is a “we”- we as in my family, his family, our cousins, the kids, the aunts and the uncles, our extended families and so on. This “we” is what makes this an enormous celebration because every person plays a huge part and is included in all of the plannings. This is fun and exhausting at the same time because everyone has an idea of their own so you can just imagine the madness…but this exact chaos is what makes the days leading up to the wedding the most memorable and fun. For me this very time is the one to cherish the most, everyone is beyond happy, excited, and high on endorphin, there is certainly an atmosphere of celebration in the air.

Wedding shopping, decor, catering, and so much more stuff is still in process to achieve as the days corner up rather rapidly to March.

Photo Courtesy: Google Images

Wedding Diary Intro: On A Personal Note…I’m Getting MARRIED!!!

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So, the big news is, I am getting married.  It is a destination wedding in India. I am so excited to share all the details with all you amazing people out there, who have been part of my journey ever since I started this blog. Over the next few months, I will be sharing all the shenanigans of my big fat Indian wedding; the traditions, the colors, the food, the culture, and all the fun surrounding the big day. For today lets start with the basics.

how we met

Prashant’s family and my family have known each other for several years. Prashant happen to get my number through this aunt and all of a sudden messaged me one day. As wired as it was getting this random “hey, how’s it going” text, we instantly clicked and became best buddies. Before we knew it we were messaging each other every day, it got to a point our day would seem incomplete without talking to each day. Several months into our phone conversations we decided to meet up; and he flew down for a weekend from Boston to see me in Savannah, GA. The anxiety, excitement, and butterflies of meeting someone for the first time was all surreal. Even though we were meeting as friends we both deep down knew we had some unspkoen feelings developing for each other. That was the first, we enjoyed each others company so much and our relation over the years evolved and we continue seeing each other every chance we got. It is 2 years now, and we have managed to conquer against all odds, especially being in a long distance relationship. Long distance relationships are no doubt tough and require a sincere level of dedication, however, they are not impossible; thanks to today’s technology it makes staying in touch and keeping things personal so easy. We have been distant in the extremes; while I was in Georgia he was living in Massachusetts. Then I moved to London and he was in America, now I am back in America, living on the east cost he happened to move to the west coast for a new job opportunity. But in the end, distance means so little when someone means so much.

how he asked

Prashant recently moved to San Francisco for a new job opportunity. I was visiting him for the first time after his big move; this was also my first trip to California. Little did I know this trip was going down in books to remember all life long. Upon my arrival, he every casually told me that he stumbled upon a very good photographer, Ethan. Ethan and he had arranged for us to do a couples photo shoot the following day. He made it seem like it was just casual, all for fun, something special he thought of doing for our 2-year anniversary together.

During our photo shoot while the photographer was taking some candid shots all of a sudden Prashant pulled out a ring from his pocket and asked if I would marry him. I was so taken back that honestly I don’t even remember what other stuff he even said lol and of course my answer was a big YES!

Announcment

Following our photo shoot, we went to A16, an Italian eatery where he told me about another surprise that he had planned for me. He had booked a Hawaiian vacation for us to celebrate our engagement and this new chapter in our life.

From the famous Waikiki beach, we called our family and friends to share the good news. Our parents couldn’t be more excited, we soon came up with a date and got right down to business in planning all the details. We are getting married on March 3rd, 2017, it is a 5-day long grand celebration in India. I hope to make you part of this celebration as you join me through my “Wedding Diary” series.

Photo Credit: Ethan Lu

London Dream!

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“I believe in falling in love with a city is just as exciting as falling in love with a person. Your senses become engaged and you simply feel more alive!” Are you living life more alive?

You All Right?! (Is the British way of saying how are you? lol, super confusing…at first I was like yea, does it look like something is wrong with me haha). Also a big one is never say “cool,” here it means the complete opposite..means you screwed up. It’s been two weeks for me here in London and things have been just super exciting lately.  London is a quite a hot and happening spot to be at, let alone to live in. My days here are going faster than I would like for them too, there is just so much to do, see and experience here.

London is a mix of everything one could want from an ultra-urban city, along with its rich history and royal structure; it is a fascinating mix. On a side note, the weather sucks big time here. It’s always cloudy with a chance of a light shower; her royal highness needs to do something about getting some sunshine asap 😉 Thames is grand and BROWN and runs across the city adding to the charm of the city. The water here though is very hard, drinking and for shower. Strangely it doesn’t feel that different than any of our major metropolitan city…lots of people from all races, all sorts of food and people constantly running to get somewhere. It is very different from the Italian experience I had…that was more of a cultural involvement. The people are really nice here though and the city is very safe from my personal experience. London is also quite a show off or for a better word VERY CLASSY! The city is all about high fashion, if you are like me and like cars then central London is the place to be. It’s all about Maserati’s, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Porsha sports, Jaguar, etc…I’m telling you its amazing, that’s all you see on the streets. Also the London nightlife is pretty popping, of course if you have the right crowd to go with 😉

London is divided into 6 zones, so it is quite big and the use of public transport is quite necessary to get around. But London is all connected through the tube/underground, and I have become an expert at getting around in the tube…once you get the hang of it its very easy. As always never missing a change to explore, I have tried to make the most out of the weekends and hit some of the central highlights of the city, still lots more to cover! My favorite being the London Eye experience, it is a must!

I am currently living in the Royal Borough of Kingston and Chelsea with some crazy, fun, and super entertaining friends, who also work at the U.S. Embassy. Chelsea is one of the prestigious and the most affluent areas in London; the football club Chelsea F.C. could be considered to be based in Chelsea. Interesting fact, each building in London has its own unique zip code/post code. There are millions of zip codes in this city unlike the American system of the entire town sharing the same code.

I hope you all enjoyed this entry on London, until next time…

Cheerio!!!

Photo Courtesy: Dhara Shah