C'mon Inner Peace… I Don't Have All Damn Day
Things were starting to come together for the “big day.” My dress was finally ready… two days before I left for India.
You can’t even imagine my stress level.
Prior to leaving, I was given the most beautiful bridal shower by my dear friend, Sophie. It was truly overwhelming to be “showered” with love and gifts from friends and family; I never knew the meaning of a “Bridal Shower” until that day. I guess it never occurred to me that I would be on the receiving end of such kindness.
This beautiful group of ladies took the time out of their lives to hand-make items from their heart, and one dear friend even let me try-on my very first Sari. An overload of emotions filled my soul, and I could NEVER thank these women enough.
These last three years have been filled with so many emotions, from learning about intercultural love, to sheer horror when our visa was denied. It was time to make this official so NO ONE could keep us apart; we were ready to make our family complete.
Hubs was waiting for us at the Delhi airport with his cousin Prince who had travelled from New Zealand. This fact alone made it all too real that in less than 48 hours I was going to marry Manpreet in front of his whole family… it was only kiddo and I from my side, bravely riding this wave alone.
Manny and his family prepared everything for this wedding, and no detail was left un-done. Once we landed on Indian soil, we were simply whisked away as if a bystander on this amazing roller coaster.
All I had to do was wake up, and enjoy the ride…
I was told Manny couldn’t sleep in our Air BnB condo until after the wedding; a familiar and endearing tradition, which did not bother me in the least.
Even if I had just travelled half-way around the world and had not seen him for the last six months, two more nights apart seemed a miniscule task.
Kiddo and I settled into our Janak Puri west Delhi home, and acclimated to the incredible sights and sounds of India with nostalgic ease.
Manny’s sister, Navpreet, picked us up bright and early on her scooter so we could get our laundry-list of chores done for the wedding. She knocked them out, one by one, in the most organized systematic way.
My sister-in-law should be a CEO of any Fortune 500 company! If you’re hiring, I have THE girl for you.
We were chauffeured around the city from one locale to the next; being on the scooter was the highlight of my sons trip. He LOVED riding through the ancient alley-ways of New Delhi with traffic zooming, horns honking, and random farm animals laying around.
I have to admit, riding a scooter in India is something I think about often; there is a certain freedom about it.
My lehenga (skirt) was purchased in the U.S. at the Tampa India Day Festival, but sadly I found the pattern was quite common in India. The choli (wedding top) had been created by my seamstress, from scratch, in Florida.
Navpreet took us to the Tilak Nagar market in west Delhi for last minute preparations, such as adding more gold to the Choli I had made. It wasn’t “sparkly” enough according to Indian tradition, so we added a gold lining around the sleeves, and some trim to the dupatta, or veil.
In India, there are a variety of expert tailors sitting on the street with a sewing machine. They carry tons of appliques, beading and accessories, which are most likely hanging from a tree. Anything you want altered can be done within minutes… right there at the market.
Markets like this remind you of how commercial the US has become; I long for the personal touch of these services. I would have so many clothes altered if we were given the chance to do so. Wouldn’t you?
Everyone who is familiar with India told me to have my wedding dress made when I arrived, but I had been afraid the time constraints would create a disaster.
I was sadly mistaken.
In retrospect, I could have had the “wedding dress of my dreams” made to order in less than 24 hours.
Throughout the day we would bump into Manny and his cousins doing “guy things” for the wedding, like getting fitted for the Sherwani (men’s bridal suit). But, my son and I spent most of the day with his sister having a great time.
It seems men and women stay far apart until after the wedding. We did meet up at the Pacific Mall for lunch, and then went on our separate ways again.
At times, this tradition made me miss my fiancé immensely.
I understood being apart in the apartment, but in the states we would have the rehearsal dinner or some sort of intimate celebration of love. In India, men and women don’t show public affection, even if it is the day before your marriage.
My sister-in-law picked out the appropriate wedding jewelry and bangles (choora) before we arrived, and it was time to try it all on. I would have been clueless as to what would be considered customary, so I was thrilled she took this initiative.
For me, this was such an interesting custom. I had no idea the wedding bangles were so intricately planned. She took her time to match the colors to my dress, and create a unique pattern of red, white and gold with BLING throughout; they are tighter near the wrist, and wider the higher up they go.
In Punjabi Sikh families, the choora are typically red and white, but vary from culture and location. I was told Sikh bangles used to be made of Ivory which were painted red and white, but now they are plastic to save the lives of elephants… which is perfectly fine by me.
Apparently, all of India knows you are a newly-wed because of your bangles.
I didn’t know at the time, but your wedding bangles are supposed to be worn for no less than six months… and can be proudly worn for up to a year. It is said, by taking them off earlier than six months, you jeopardize the longevity of your husbands life. So you can imagine their shock when I took them off to shower.
Sorry Manpreet, here’s to a long life… whoops.
Of course I put them back on, but his family asked me if I would wear them once I returned Stateside; I wasn’t sure. No one would quite understand why I had red bangles and a blue t-shirt in the US, but I promised to give it a try after realizing how special they are.
In south India, some bangles are made of glass. The glass bangles are supposed to be worn until the last one breaks. Once they have all broken, it is said the honeymoon is over.
Bangles in different locations of India contain various colors… like green, intermixed with the red, and sometimes they have flowers; it all depends of local customs.
The Sangeet (ladies party), is typically held the night before the wedding. All the women get beautiful Henna designs on their hands, but the bride gets the most with designs all the way up her arms and feet. The other ladies do less Henna as a show of respect to the bride.
These temporary designs last about two weeks. I heard a rumor the new bride is not supposed to do any house work until they are faded. If it were me, I may be making some sneaky side-trips for a touch-up. (Wink)
I also heard… the darker the ink shows up on your hands the next day, the more your husband loves you! I don’t think I have to EVER question Manpreet’s love for me, because my Henna turned out extremely dark, luckily.
My Sangeet was held at Manny’s uncles house. His sister had picked out a Henna artist from the market earlier that afternoon. He arrived that evening with a friend for maximum efficiency; all ladies were done in about two hours. It was quite impressive.
I learned that, by dripping a mixture of lemon juice and sugar on top of the finished design, the color is deeper and will last longer.
Since we were out on the scooter all day; my hair was in a pony-tail and I was wearing jeans. I didn’t know this Sangeet was such a big event; actually, I had no idea what a Sangeet was! You can imagine my embarrassment of meeting the entire family who were all dressed to the nines! EEEEEK.
Some of the family had travelled from Chandigarh, which is more than 5 hours away, and were all dressed so beautifully. I felt like the biggest slob, but no one made me feel badly about it.
I guess I was more of a curiosity to them, more than anything?
It was shocking that so many people cared to show up for our wedding… This was an unexpected gift giving me the chance to meet everyone the night before the wedding so the next day wasn’t AS intimidating.
Manny was hanging with the guys and my son had made friends with his new cousins instantly… but I was overwhelmed with the culture and language barriers.
Manny’s cousin put on some Punjabi music and the whole family started dancing, even the elders. I think I was in a state of shock from meeting so many people; dancing was the furthest thing from my mind, but I loved watching because it was at this moment I realized what a fun, happy, family I was marrying into.
My son and I were dropped off at our apartment late that night, with only a few hours of sleep until the wedding day. Sleep… did not happen until a week after the wedding and I learned all too well about this long Indian wedding process.
It’s beautiful, amazing… and tiring.
What I want to say though, is that India, and Indians were more than welcoming to us with a love and hospitality like no other.
People like to tell a few stories to the contrary where the western girl is not accepted into an Indian family, which is why I wanted to make it known that those terrible stories people want to recant “may” not be the norm.
Or, maybe I am just the luckiest girl on the planet because I have married into THIS fun bunch.
My new family have left me with a heart FILLED with love. Their faces and warm smiles have permeated my soul, and I am excited to spend the rest of my life with not only the kindest man in the world… but also an incredible family who have stolen my heart.
I love you Manpreet. Thank you for making my life complete with you and your family loving Cairo and I.
We could not be happier. WEDDING TIME!
For more stories in the Gori and the Sikh category, click—> HERE
Read about “My Indian Boyfriend “—>HERE
My Big Fat Sikh Wedding: Indian Astrology —> HERE
My Big Fat Sikh Wedding: The Dress —> HERE
Surviving Long Distance Love—> HERE
Open Letter to my Husband—> HERE
Our Honeymoon, Rishikesh India—> HERE
Fiance Visa Process—> HERE
Cr1 Marriage Visa Timeline—> HERE
US Embassy Interview—> HERE
Journey to New Delhi—> HERE
First Trip to Jaipur India —> HERE
Our First Diwali—> HERE
Giving Thanks, Shukryia —> HERE
Being Sikh in America—> HERE
The Indian Grocery—> HERE
A Path to Happiness—> HERE
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