Sunday, January 18, 2015

Seeing a traditional Telugu wedding

One of the fun things about going to India for a longer trip is that there is bound to be some type of event going on - whether it be a festival, engagement, wedding, housewarming ceremony, or family get-together. Trust me, when you inherit a big fat Indian family - something will always be going on!

This time we were invited to see a traditional Telugu wedding of one of husband-ji's friend's brothers - someone he went to school with. I was totally excited to see this event because I had never seen a Telugu marriage before. The actual marriage took place at the inconvenient auspicious time of 12am in the night/morning. Since it was so late, the reception was before the wedding at 8pm.

I wore a gorgeous new magenta silk saree and matching bangles, and husband-ji wore a dapper Nehru style 3 piece outfit. I put Maya in a delicate Italian sundress which was evidently not bejeweled enough for Indian standards!

We were already exhausted by the time we arrived, having been stuck in Hyderabadi rush hour traffic for over an hour and a half. We arrived when the bharath dance was happening. The groom was at the entrance of the function hall on a silver horse and carriage (kind of like Cinderella) while all of the youngsters in the family were dancing like mad in front, as if it was Studio 54. The drummers were incredible performers but they were drunken teenage boys who looked like the Indian equivalent of the Backstreet Boys, circa 1998. The bharath is supposed to be a procession, but the youngsters just wanted to keep dancing so the Cinderella carriage only moved about 2 inches per minute. Everyone was sweating their asses off. Then there were fireworks lit in front of the whole procession - quite dangerous actually. It made it look like a discotheque on the street in the middle of Baghdad!

We watched it for a few minutes and then got bored and decided to go to the function hall. The walk to the inside area was on a beautiful pathway with gorgeous gold beams, white canopies and flowers. I felt like I was at some Bollywood event on the red carpet.

Inside, there were about 500 white plastic lawn chairs with all the senile people elders sitting and chatting away. We entered and all eyes were on us - the Firangi in the saree with a thaali and back tattoos? Looks of utter confusion came our way. The stage was utterly gorgeous - gold and flowers everywhere. Full blowout beam lights on the stage like a crime scene.

We decided to sit down on the chairs as the plastic was getting stuck to my open back. Slowly people started trickling in. You couldn't really tell exactly who was the bride since every woman was wearing their own full bridal jewelry - at an Indian wedding, there is NO such thing as overdressed! I felt silly for not wearing my entire set.

We were sitting behind one of the aunty's with a permanent grump face, who was sitting with her young unmarried son. Every time someone would walk past us - because clearly it was like a runway ramp - they would whisper and discuss. It was quite a funny thing to watch, since she didn't know that I was watching her!

People started to pour in, and then everyone just started to eat the buffet food. Maya wanted some ice cream, so I fed it to her as a pick-me up. By this point is was nearly 10pm and I'd do anything just to avoid a meltdown from her. Husband-ji pointed out all the weirdos who had just trailed in off the road to get free buffet food.

During that time, the groom had finally arrived to the stage after his 2 inch per hour journey down the red carpet. The bride came out and they both sat on the stage - they looked gorgeous against the intricate stage backdrop.

Then, the line started, which was worse than the line for customs at Heathrow airport. Everyone who was done eating wanted to get a picture with the bride and groom. Total cluster f*ck - as by then there were over 400 guests. I was telling husband-ji one of us should stay in line while the other can run around with Maya. Maya was doing the rounds and working the crowd like she was a mini Priyanka Chopra! Husband-ji said that we have to wait for his friend to "present" us to his brother. Oh formalities!!! I almost lost my shit because by this time I was exhausted. We managed to flag down his friend about 45 minutes later so that we could be "presented" to the groom for our picture. I was so ready to get out of there and say deuces!

After that, we were pleaded to stay longer but luckily now that I'm a parent I can always use my daughter's so called "tiredness" as an excuse. The bride's SIL said the wedding would go on for another 6 hours, with a peeved look. I was relieved to get out of there, and so glad that I didn't have a traditional Telugu wedding myself! I had fun seeing this one, but it was utterly exhausting just to attend it!



  1. You implicitly made a broad generalization that a "traditional" telugu wedding (south Indian wedding) has a baarat. Nothing traditional about a "baarat" at a south Indian wedding (telugu or otherwise). A baarat is an aspect of north Indian weddings. It is (to my chagrin) that south Indian/cross cultural south Indian couples are assimilating this north Indian tradition and perhaps warping the idea of a traditional south Indian wedding.

    Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a baarat at a south Indian wedding as it is all about making merry and having a good time (with certain limits imposed obviously). But having a baarat does render a south Indian wedding "non traditional".

    Also this:
    "Entered and all eyes were on us - the Firangi in the saree with a thaali and back tattoos? Looks of utter confusion came our way. "
    The attitude of the Indian folk here seems to be medieval but as a fellow Indian, given the geo-political
    inertia that we Indians have to overcome, I think it will take us at least another 100 years (give or take 25 years) to shed our disbelief when faced with a cross cultural couple. It is unfortunate but that is just the way it is going to be.

    Digging husband-jis bandhgala suit. Very suave! And Maya!

    1. Yes, they really are. The last 3 weddings of our family and friends (all South Indian) included a grand bharat. Even our uber-traditional Iyengar relative did it! I think you are right, they are assimilating the North Indian custom, which is kinda cool. Def wouldn't have seen it in our parents` generation.
      I loved his suit too! :))))

  2. Alex,

    Love your new Magenta colored sari, very pretty! I loved husband-ji's wedding outfit. I can't imagine having the reception before the wedding, very interesting. They had a hugh budget on the flowers, they were gorgeous. Still hard to believe that many people lined up to wish bride and groom best wishes. They must have been exhausted by the time everyone gave their blessing. Thanks for sharing video of baarat and wedding pictures, still think you guys are a beautiful couple.


    1. Thank you! Yes, Indians are always finding a smart way to accommodate the totally inconvenient wedding time. It was good because everyone got fed before the long ceremony started!
      Awwwww thank you Melissa! You are so kind :)

  3. I always things Indian wedding are such an amazing events. I loved the music and d├ęcor and of course, food must be amazing. Thank you for sharing the amazing photos as well but the timing seems to be bummer.
    You look amazing in your traditional outfit :)

    1. Thank you!
      The decor was fantastic! Very classy...

  4. Dear Alex

    I am a regular at your blog and always love your writing. I am a Traditional Telugu girl settled in USA. I am little unhappy over the generalization you mentioned about Telugu wedding. Traditional Telugu (Brahmin) weddings are way different to the one you mentioned above. The wedding rituals are mostly caste based. Your MIL should explain better.
    However, I love Maya's outfit and your silk saree too. You look very beautiful in silk sarees :)

    Best wishes

    1. Hi Hema,
      Thanks for reading.... :)
      The couple was not Brahmin, and they had a more relaxed interpretation of the wedding with many North Indian influences too...they were quite modern. I think they might have been an inter-state union as well.

  5. @Alexandra

    I like the hustle and bustle of a north indian marriage. I myself insisted that people dance in my marriage, when it is unheard of in a bengali marriage. In Kolkata, marriages are so silent that you cannot even make out that a marriage is taking place. Only the sound of Shenai (traditional musical instrument played in indian marriages) or some bengali songs. Indian marriages are typically long with elaborate rituals. My marriages stated at around 9.00 PM and ended at 3.15 AM in the morning. Some scenes from Bengali marriages.

    The only problem was that we we wearing silky highly inflammable clothes and sitting infront of a blazing fire. With each hymn, the priest put more ghee into the fire thus making it for bright. The heat was getting to both of us we put up a brave face. The only saving grace was it providing heat in a chilly weather, as the clothes we wore were not exactly suited for the weather.

    The second problem in bengali marriages as you can see from the video is that the bride is carried by her brothers brought infront of the groom during exchange of garlands ceremony. Then a little game of one upmanship is played between the two parties. Both the bride and groom are raised above the ground by their respective relatives making the exchange of garlands difficult. My only fear was my rather chubby wife could fall over me and in this process crush me. Imagine getting crushed by your would be wife before marriage. Perhaps, an indication of things to come LOL.

    1. OMG that is sooooo long! You guys must have been so exhausted. And so cool that you wanted to break the tradition and have the guests dance :)


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