The extravagant, incredible Indian wedding is definitely an experience. After seeing wedding bands and horses along the roads of Delhi during “wedding season”, which is end of October through March, we finally got to see a Hindu wedding firsthand and learn quite a bit about the entire wedding experience here.
First of all, “arranged” versus “love” marriages. Two years ago when Tyler and I came here to look into the possibility of moving here, we spent 3 days with a woman that showed us around. She had just been married a few months and her marriage was an arranged marriage. Her attitude was that she felt her family could make a better decision on whom she should marry than she could. Arranged marriages are still very customary here but the “love” marriages are becoming more common. At the same time I am learning that when they say it is a “love” marriage, the families still have a definite say in it. It means that instead of meeting the bride or groom for the first or second time at the wedding, that they get to know each other and see if they like each other and the families approve of their decision. The majority of people I have met here in India have had arranged marriages and some have confided that their arranged marriage has not been a good thing.
The dowry. Now Indians will tell you that the dowry is no longer “legal” in India, but it still exists. I have talked with Indians where they have sat at weddings waiting up to 3 hours after the time it was to begin because negotiations over the dowry were still taking place. The girl’s family is expected to turn over the dowry to the groom’s family. It can be cash, a car, a major appliance, etc. depending on the “caste” and the wealth of the family. If your son is more educated, than his family can anticipate a higher dowry as he is worth more.
The wedding festivities. Weddings in India can last up to a week with all different types of festivities planned. If the family is wealthy, it will last longer and be very luxurious. If the family is poor, it will still consist of a few days but be more simple. A couple of days before the wedding it is common for the women to have henna painted on their hands and arms. The bride also will go through a special cleansing and putting on special powders that give her a glowing look a day before the wedding. The bride spends a very large part of the wedding day getting her makeup and hair done a special way. At the wedding we attended, we waited quite a while for the bride to arrive as she was still getting ready. The groom arrives at the wedding riding a horse with a band walking in front of him announcing his arrival. The bride arrives after, walking under a canopy carried by the men in her family. The event includes lots of food and dancing and then at midnight, a holy fire was lit and the bride and groom walk around it seven times making seven vows to each other.
So following the wedding, it is very common for the bride to move into the home of her in-laws. She then has the responsibility of not only taking care of her husband, but his entire family. The bride now lives under the direction of her mother-in-law and takes over all household chores and responsibilities. Even those Indian homes that have servants, a heavy load is shifted to the new daughter-in-law. The hardest part for me is that sometimes the loyalty of the husband does not shift to his new wife, it remains with his parents and if his mother is displeased with the daughter-in-laws cooking or other actions, the husband will not always stand up for his wife if his mother decides to abuse her.
Colorful India comes to life during “wedding season” and the events that surround it. As we attended the wedding, it was so fun to celebrate and see the happiness of the families and the newlyweds.