Hyderabad Wedding

Trip Start Mar 29, 2007
Trip End Sep 30, 2009

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Flag of India  , Andhra Pradesh,
Sunday, April 20, 2008

With a friend (Tanya) from the States visiting, we got invited last minute by one of my neighbors to attend what I thought was "her" daughters wedding.  My neighbor (Pushpama) and her husband live on the same floor as me in my apartment building and they have 4 extremely cute, young children who are always banging on my door asking for cookies and chocolates.  She arrived one day at my door with my maintenance guy (Murthy) acting as translator and gave both Tanya and I a little dot on the forehead and then a very nice wedding invitation for a wedding the very next weekend.  She speaks no English or Hindi...only Telegu...but she did learn one word when she handed us the invite..."Compulsory!".  I guess she really wanted us to come.  When I asked Murthy to ask her who's wedding this was...her reply was "My elder daughter.".  As I had only met her young children...I assumed that she had an older daughter...how wrong I was (more on that later).  We told her we'd be happy to attend this event and gave our RSPV to here then....she still said "Compulsory" a few more times after we said we'd be there

Tanya spent to following day looking for something to wear to the wedding and when Saturday morning rolled around...we left the apartment (with the Murthy) at the un-gawdly hour of 10AM (on a Saturday) to drive on hour to Shamshabad for this wedding.  I wore a suit...and was praying for an inside wedding...no such luck.  I left my jacket in the car and we heading to a very, very large tent with may 500-600 seats...most of them empty.  Evidently if you show up on time to an Indian wedding, you'll be the only person there.  The guests that were there were clearly separated on each side of the aisle.  But not by the brides-side and the grooms-side...but by male and female.  The left side was completely female...and the right side was all make.  Tanya sat with me on the right side as we were directed to by the family...second row in fact.  I think I was the token white-guy...a novelty...that's all right I guess. 

As the remaining guests trickled in (eventually it was a full house), the wedding kicked off.  There was a holy man on stage chanting and throwing rice around the place.  There was also a roving band which was mainly a bunch of drummers in addition to a band on stage that was mainly horns.  It's important to note that during the entire ceremony there was a lot of people going up and down on stage and moving in and out of the stage center.  But these were not members of the wedding party...just random family members and kids.  The groom was marched in and seated in a center chair on stage facing everyone.  I would say he was probable in his thirties and weighed about 250 pounds.  After he was seated, family members started doing things to him and putting things on him.  The bride was marched in a few minutes later and was positioned behind the groom seated on the ground so that they could no see each other.  I would say she was probably in her late teens and didn't want to be there.  Oh...did I mention the bride and groom are cousins? 

After spending about 20 minutes with the groom, the family members went back to the bride and started doing things and placing things on her.  Eventually both sets of parents came to the front of the stage and they were tied together and given some rice and the holy man said some words.  At this point I noticed that Pushpama (the wife who invited me) was not on stage with her husband during this event.  I asked Murthy what was going on and he told me that the Pushpama's husband was up there with his elder wife and it was her daughter that was getting married.  As the younger wife, Pushpama wasn't involved in this part of the wedding.  After Tanya and I did about 10 double-takes and confirmed what we just heard...we sat back and enjoyed the rest of the ceremony.  Eventually the groom and bride were brought up next to each other...the bands went into a frenzy, the holy man went into a frenzy, the stage was full of people going back and forth and then they were married.  Two huge golden chairs were placed in front of the stage and as if some mystical force had told the crowd...the entire male side of the audience stood up and started marching up to the right-side stairs to the stage.  Once there they grabbed a handful of rice and threw it on the bride and groom and exited on the left side of the stage and went off to the reception for a lunch.  I forgot to grab a handful of rice so Murthy gave me a handful while I was in line and I threw it...then he yelled at me that I had to do it again because I threw it with my left hand.  So back up the stairs I went and threw it with the proper hand...my right hand.  The bride and groom looked miserable...especially the bride.  After the men finished on stage, the women on the left side of the room all stood up and did the same thing as the men.  I gave Tanya our gift envelope and asked her to drop it into the gift bag when she finished throwing her rice.

We decided to skip the lunch and head out so while we waited for my driver to get our car out of the parking lot (we were blocked in) we walked around and watched some of the entertainment which included comics, dancers and our favoirtes...dwarfs.  These two little guys were dressed to the nines in their Indian finest and were at the entrance to the wedding tent.  There were quite popular and the little guy in the red definitely took a liking to Tanya. 

So...to recap...what I learned about an Hyderabadi Hindu wedding:

1) No need to arrive early.
2) Dress coolly and bring mosquito repellent as it may be outside.
3) Don't worry if things seem to be in a state of chaos...that's normal...just go with the flow and enjoy the show.
4) Make sure you thank "both" wives.  I think this wedding was just a weird one as most Hindu men have one wife.
5) If you don't like loud noises, bring ear plugs.  The drummers were quite enthusiastic.
6) Throw the rice with your right hand....doh!
7) Make friends with the dwarf's!

Enjoy the pics!
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