Going East, Wedding Traditions & Dancing Nights

Trip Start Sep 30, 2011
Trip End Oct 16, 2014

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Flag of India  , Manipur,
Sunday, February 12, 2012

Van parked up again, time to jump in the bus and go back to India…North East India to be more precise. After a simple border crossing and a long 2-day journey I arrive in Guwahati to meet up with Nama's cousin Pipi. Together we travel in the wedding present (a car) into Arunachal, Naharlagun to attend Nama & Neywin’s wedding, meeting up with Lulu as well. The wedding venue takes 4 days in total, full of fun, dressing up, drinking rice wine and dancing….lots of dancing! A wedding never to forget, for them and for us! Then time to say goodbyes….on my way again with Lulu… to Manipur, Imphal, to her parental house, to start new wedding preparations for her and Bob! Wedding bells all around!

Leaving Sini’s house in a rush as my friend Naba calls me to tell me the bus is leaving EARLY! Unbelievable. And of course I end up sitting at the bus stand with lots of time for tsia ghana (tea drinking) with Naba ;-) The 12-hour bus-ride turns into an 18-hour one cos of unexplainable nightly traffic jams, a bomb removal and a huge accident causing chaos. But I have been given the best bus seat behind the driver, the bus guys take good care of me and I even manage to sleep a bit under my warm blanket! Yet people keep asking, why are you not flying there? haha I start to think about it when in the morning I find out I had a huge knife lying in the window ledge just above my head all this time, a miracle it did not fall into me with all this bumping around!

Last veg momo’s for lunch, collecting my exit stamp at Nepali Immigrations and crossing the symbolic bridge to India to say I’m back. All quick and easy. A local bus, cycle rickshaw and sleeper train bring me to Guwahati, where Pipi wakes up really early to pick me from the train station! Today we shall travel together to Naharlagun, Arunachal state, to attend Nama & Neywin’s wedding. Travelling by car, which we pick up later that morning…from the showroom! Turns out we are going there in their wedding present: A brand new Ford Fiesta. Unreal.

Completely exhausted but happy we get there, reunited with Nama and Lulu again. This will be the start of 5 intense, crazy wedding days….full of dancing! The first night only food though and saying   goodbye to the friendly-faced Mithun (kind of buffalo) which will be slaughtered the next morning…then by car drop (first of many to follow) to our temporary home: Makte’s house, which to us feels more like a hotel as it’s huge and he does not really live there himself. That night I sleep like an ox, most likely also making the same sounds haha. We are sharing the 'hotel’ with Brigitte & William from Delhi and Gracy, Akuno and Jasmine from Nagarland… us crazy bunch.

Wedding day 1: Breakfast is made for us, enjoying it on the roof terrace in the sun…then to Nama’s parental house for lunch and dress-up round 1….wearing local wrap-arounds. Today several traditional ceremonies will take place from Nama’s family side. The decorating of the venue place is still ongoing. Lots of things to be done for the big number of people coming today and tomorrow: The mithun is hacked into pieces and prepared on the fire, women busy in the temp kitchen making rice packets and the rice wine is slowly fermenting while dripping down. We have our first taste…the sweet poison. Later we will know why it’s called like that ;-)

All dressed up we are waiting for the groom’s family to arrive. Neywin receives special Christian blessings before entering the venue. Everybody is served some of the sacrificed mithun and rice wine in bamboo cups. Then the traditional family-introduction-ceremony takes place, followed by a group dance and singing… family members giving their best. They repeatedly ask me to present a Dutch song as well, but luckily I can prevent this somehow. After dinner the groom’s family goes home and an afterparty starts with music blasting from the car speakers… One Auntie very enthusiastically keeps dragging me on the dance floor…the dancing has started. After a short smoky visit to the local underground pub we arrive ‘home’ all danced out…for now.

Wedding Day 2: After a relaxed morning it is time to go to meet up again at the house for dress-up round 2. Dress code: this time party dress (yet decent cut). For the occasion I even let Lulu put nail polish and Brigitte is doing my make-up…turning me into a lady…with dreads. Busy busy in Nama’s bedroom, us all getting ready to join the reception/party event. At first Nama and Neywin sit on stage welcoming all guests, receiving gifts and taking photos…while we try out the rice wine. Halfway during the evening the dancing starts, unexpected singing performances, even a classical Indian music piece (which I like a lot). More and more rice wine is consumed, more and more dancing takes place…some food in between, more rice wine. A little girl finds me and stays my dance partner for the bigger part of the evening, so sweet. Unfortunately also the enthusiastic Auntie keeps dragging me on the dance floor for some interesting hip moves! Cannot really put in words how much fun we had, nor can the photos… I saw my bed after 03.00AM being one of the last persons on the dance floor, Lulu and other gone home already, the sweet poison had kicked in and let’s say William had to rescue and guide a few to the bathroom ;-)

Wedding Day 3: The morning after….we get a call to come to the house again for the leaving- ceremony. We have about 15min to get ready…with only 4 hours of sleep and a hangover! 4 ladies stay behind, while William, Brigitte and I quickly get dressed. I come along, barely making it, but to curious not wanting to miss out on anything. No photos of this morning though as I needed all my energy just to stay awake and clear ;-)

At Nama’s house the community elders are gathered with the Uncles to give the couple matrimonial advice. Also this is the moment when Nama is officially leaving her parental home, moving in with her inlaws. She will not be allowed to visit her parents (at home) for a month. Of course this is all very emotional and soon the tears come. I barely keep it dry. All the gifts are loaded on trucks…time to go…

We go with several cars full of family and friends to guide her to her new home. As Neywin’s family is Buddhist they have their own traditions. One of them is that she should arrive and enter the house at exactly 12.55PM. As we are early, all of us are parked at the side of the road for about an hour, in which I take a needed nap! When we arrive her new family is waiting for her. Before entering the house Nama receives special Buddhist blessings, also she has to step with her right foot on an axe, take some rice and a coin. Once inside she had to change into different cloths. The Buddhist ceremony, one of Neywin’s family traditions will now take place. 6 monks are waiting for them to give their blessing. I love the whole ceremony even though I cannot understand a thing. The chanting is beautiful. They receive special rope, tied around their wrist and also matrimonial advice. The whole ceremony takes some hours but I am happy to be part of it, luckily feeling a bit better by now. After lunch we go back to our temp home to see how the girls are doing! And tell stories about last night, William being  the perfect impersonator making all of us burst out laughing more than once. Oh oh what a night!

That evening we all go back to Neywin’s house for a casual get-together…no alcohol this evening, so we say… Going home early….so we say….The good thing about a wedding which lasts for longer than a day is that you really can get a connection with the other guests…time to talk, laugh and dance. Sima choosing me to be her dance partner that night ;-) One last song, only one more haha Inside the disco-party crowd is going wild, while outside me and others are enjoying the guitar & djembe tunes and some good singing! Not by me ;-) Another great night!

Wedding Day 4: Last and final day of this crazy beautiful wedding… After a lazy morning…it is time to go and meet up with Nama again for dress-up round 4, this time Thai style party dress for her, me wearing the same thing like before, not having much to choose from in my backpack. Tonight will be the second reception/party for (other) guests. All of us getting ready once more. Also tonight the couple has to sit on a stage meeting the guests, receiving gifts and taking photos. The evening starts slow with lots of time to talk, drink nice wine and talk some more…until Malkum (Nama’s younger sister) drags me to the dance floor. Soon after the tone is set for some movement, me and Pinak start to persuade people to join in and before long the party has started! Dancing, dancing and more dancing… The crowd starts to go wild when Neywin and Getem perform a song and Nama joins them at some point. Then the DJ friends take over keeping people on the floor till late hours! Me only taking a break for food or short relaxing time in the comfortable sofas! The wedding venue is coming to an end… It has been so much fun, with a great group of people, amazing hospitality from both families and good music to dance to. The song ‘Mera Hero’ will forever link me to this wedding. Neywin and Nama thank you so much for inviting me and letting me be part of this great event! Never to forget, for you and for me!

After little sleep it is time for a great motorbike ride home, chai pio and quick bag packing…the car is ready to take us back to Guwahati, where Lulu and I are put up in a hotel for the night until our flight the next day. Nama has booked the hotel room for us and even paid for my flight (as she didn’t want me to go by bus)!! Me and Lulu, being super tired, even order food to the room, taking it very easy and I enjoy 3 Running!!! warm water showers… had not had one since I left Holland. Sooooo nice. We relax until the last moment when it is time to go to the airport….to board the plane to Imphal, Manipur. Bob and his mum should already be on it. The lovebirds reunited in the plane after 5 months of separation. We have 2 weeks to get ready for another wedding…. this time by dear friends Bob and Lulu being the happy couple-to-be! At time of writing we are in the middle of the preps, the wedding day (14th of Feb) getting nearer) Will tell you all about it next time!

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Apu on

Great friend so you er at my place, i have my parental home at northeast only...any way u look to have great time...stay in touch and let me know if u want any help there...wat about ur car..where is it? Hav a good time and enjoy...

c orrie van leeuwen on

mooie foto.s je zag er goed uit een beetje oogschaduw enz staat
je goed en die krullen in je haar wel houden zo.
zo te zien een leuk feest maar wel vermoeiend lijkt mij

Deb. on

Lieve Liek,

Wat een ontzettend gaaf verhaal en mooie foto's ook! I can see that you're having a great great time there! Lots of love & kisses for you,


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