The evening of January 26, a Muslim family invited me into their home and the 18-year old daughter painted my hands with henna paste. Generally, Indian brides also have their forearms, feet, and lower legs painted. It is a long process, but quite relaxing. I can see that it would be fun having all the young ladies in the wedding party around; eating, laughing and having a good time. The thick henna paste takes about 2 hours to dry, then it is brushed off leaving only the stained pattern behind. The bride cannot wash the tattoo for 8 hours, which is why it is usually done in the evening.
Before the wedding the next day, Dawson and I were fitted with our wedding attire which had been measured and made for us the night before.
The Hindu wedding was beautiful; simple yet somehow complex; and elegant yet earthy at the same time. It used all the basic elements of daily life in the ritual. I am sure many Hindu ceremonies are more elaborate, but we had to rely on the kindness of a Hindi priest willing to marry a couple of obviously-crazy Americans. He was very gracious to do so. He was, however, disabled from Polio and required an assistant to help administer some of the rituals. As you view the photos of us seated outside, to Dawson’s immediate left is our interpreter, and to his left is the Hindu priest. To my direct right is the priest’s assistant. In the last photo, the older lady in the purple sari stood in as my sister, as the sister of the bride holds a very special part of the vow….vowing to help the bride fulfill care of children and home. The musicians you see in the distant background played the entire time. We attracted quite a crowd of locals once the noisy ceremony started, and in the end we had quite a large attendance of newly inherited family and friends. You would have thought they all knew us personally by the end of the 1+hour ceremony. Weddings are VERY special happenings in India, and great effort, money and time is spent on them. Families travel great distances just to attend them.
It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day, and we could not have asked for a more memorable way to begin our life together. This is a memory to last forever.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO WATCH OUR “INDIA” POST AS WE CONTINUE OUR TRAVELS THROUGH INDIA AND NEPAL.