All of this holiday spirit has me reminiscing about the one Christmas I spent away from home–in India no less! I’m just just going to switch gears real quick from all the Nantucket Christmas hoopla to Christmas in India!
About two years ago I was invited to an Indian wedding, in India, with my partner and we were so honored! We decided we wanted to go and celebrate the bride and groom, even if it meant missing the holidays with family.
It was an incredible experience and my only regret is that I didn’t go for the full three weeks I was invited for! New job and all … Anyway, I felt so welcome and included throughout the several days of ceremonies–the people were so kind and it was an exquisite wedding to witness.
This was the first Indian wedding I had ever attended, so please feel free to leave advice or tips in the comments below for newbies like myself!!
Christmas fell on the day of the mehndi party which is when the bride, her family members, and other guests get henna designs on their hands in preparation for the wedding ceremony. The party was to last most of the day, but we were a little late getting back from the nearby temple which I’ve covered here! Walking into the tent was an immediate frenzy–a fun frenzy! The tent was huge and there was probably just under a hundred women getting their mehndi done or waiting to get it done throughout the day and into the evening. The bride was set up with several mehndi artists working on her feet up to her knees, and her hands up to her elbows. It took them hours to complete her designs! I learned that sometimes they will hide the grooms name or initials within the intricate design which he has to find later on their wedding night.
There was tons of food (as always–we never went hungry the whole trip!), so I sat down to eat and waited with another girl there from Germany for our turn.
They also had glass blowers at the party so I got take home these gorgeous figurines. Not sure if they were for anything specific, but my plan was to use them as cocktail stirrers! To this day they’re just displayed prettily on my dresser…a lovely memento!
This was a gorgeous, GORGEOUS mehndi design on one of the bride’s cousins! ^
At first we didn’t know if we should get the mehndi done, but we were heartily encouraged to do so! I couldn’t believe how so few women could do mehndi so fast! It was amazing.
While I got my mehndi done, I ended up chatting with one of the groom’s aunts–she grilled me about my boyfriend. She was so cute and very motherly! She mentioned that she had noticed how he found a chair for me to sit in the day before at a ceremony. My own mother had made a similar comment about him getting a chair for me at a dinner rehearsal we were at the summer before! It’s nice to know there are strong similarities amongst mothers across all countries and cultures. 🙂
This was my mehndi design–poor thing was probably so tired by the time she got to me but it still looked insanely beautiful! It’s a true art.
At the very end, when everyone had finished getting their mehndi, the bride and grooms’ families brought out a Christmas cake (so cute) for everyone from the U.S. and Europe that celebrated Christmas (there was about 12 of us)! It was so sweet and I couldn’t believe they had thought to do that! It was so kind and it definitely brought a big smile to all of our faces thinking of our families celebrating Christmas back home.
It was definitely the most unique Christmas day I’ve ever experienced. Nothing like a Nantucket Christmas or a California Christmas, but it was a new cultural experience for me! And I had so much fun celebrating Shalini and Venkat!
How about you, have you ever been away from home on Christmas? Why and where did you go?!
Please, keep in mind that there are varying traditions, customs, and even budgets across all types of weddings which can make each one unique and different. This was just my personal experience attending my first Indian wedding. I enjoy sharing new experiences here on this blog and strive to do so in a respectful manner to all!