Akash and Simran’s Indian Wedding: A One for the Books Experience!

Aside from hopefully travelling to places in India, the wedding of Akash and Simran was actually what I’ve been waiting for. I haven’t attended any wedding in my entire life so getting an invite to this event thrilled me! And it was not an ordinary wedding I always see on TV or the SDE of Filipino Weddings I watch on Vimeo – it’s a Big Fat Indian Wedding! I was like “Yey, I’ll get to wear an Indian dress!” and yet “Oh no, I couldn’t dance!”

I really had no idea what to expect in an Indian wedding ceremony other than the glamour and dancing. Though I did look forward to meet my boyfriend’s family specially his mom, but thinking about it gives me thrills and shivers at the same time. With the culture differences and language barrier, I’ve been anxious how to win her over or make her and the rest of the family like me, at least. (You guys are with me, right?) Later, I’ll let you know how it went. 🙂

6Q5A4123[1]

Gripped with curiosity, just as you guys, my boyfriend filled me in with some fine points. And I’m sharing ’em here with you all as well!

So, the Indian Wedding is actually a week long celebration with different rituals and traditions before the actual wedding day. Those ceremonies take place from the bride’s and groom’s respected family and are done separately. I was not able to witness all of them since Avinash and I had some commitments in Delhi while the pre-wedding events took place in Sangrur, Punjab (Bride’s hometown) and Bihar (Groom’s hometown).

Pre-Wedding 

There was Mehendi Ceremony , where a henna paste was applied to a bride’s arms and feet in an intricate design. This was not only a symbol of aesthetics but of fun and festivities as well.

6Q5A30706Q5A3023

If I was the bride, this ceremony is the one I’d enjoy the most! I was just amazed on the intricate details they draw. According to Avinash, they believe that the darker the color of the mehndi on the bride’s hands, the deeper she’ll be loved by her husband. Those are the bride’s. Tell me whatchu think.

Other than the bride, women guests can apply them as well. To get the most out of this experience, I also had my first henna (ever) just the night before the wedding. Talk about some final touch.

IMG_20170501_180649_910[1]
My cute and simple mehendi was beautifully drawn by Anjali (Avinash’s sister). Thanks, Nanad Ji!

Also, one of the pre wedding rituals is the Sangeet Ceremony, where the wedding is celebrated through dancing and singing. I wish I was there. It must be so much fun!

6Q5A3312

And the most essential of all ceremonies — The Haldi Ceremony. 

In this ritual, a turmeric paste or haldi is applied to the bride’s and groom’s body by their loved ones. Aside from its aesthetics benefits, they believe that this will keep the evil spirits away — including all those wedding jitters! 🙂

6Q5A3558

The Big Day

“It’s time”, as the groom said. On the 29th of April, 2017, the big day has come  for Simran Mann (The Bride) and Akash Pratap Singh (The Groom) as they are finally tying the knot after their 6-year relationship. Read their inspiring love story here.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
The groom on his Sikh Wedding attire – Kurta Pajama and Turban

Simran is Sikh while Akash is Hindu – so having different culture and religion, they needed to have two weddings. Isn’t it nice that they don’t have to convert to one’s religion and argue which is which? I have too much respect for the Indian culture already.

It was a bright sunny day in the city of Sangrur, Punjab. A perfect weather for a much-awaited Sikh Wedding that took place in the morning. Everyone was all dolled up on time, or actually earlier than scheduled, including me who were secretly way more excited than anyone. HAHA! You can’t blame me. This was my first wedding experience, remember?

Among with my firsts was to wear an Indian dress. Thank God that my boyfriend’s sister, Anjali, was too generous to lend me her suit and lehenga, so I did not worry too much about that. As far as my makeup and hair, I managed to look decent on my no-makeup makeup look  for the morning wedding even though I did not achieve the Indian standard. *sighs*

IMAG4117[1]
Funny fact: This pair of earrings was the heaviest earrings I’ve ever worn!

And being an early birds, we had lots of photo opportunities! Look at these!

Untitled collage Me in Churidar Suit and Avinash in Kurta Pajama

fam1
Me, groom’s father, Anjali (left photo) and groom’s sister Bala (right photo)

I love our (emphasized on the ‘our’ ) family photos below 🙂 ♥♥♥

 

Coming with the Groom’s side, we all arrived at 10:30 in Gurudwara Sahib.

Processed with VSCO with  preset

The groom was welcomed by the bride’s family and was presented with a sword or kirpan as a symbol of his role to protect his wife and family from harm, and sehra, the dangling garlands attached to his turban to signify his prosperity.

6Q5A3725

Before we entered the Gurudwara, everyone was required to take off their shoes and cover their heads with a head scarf or bandana. That is how they show respect to their God in Sikh religion.

6Q5A3740

Once inside, men and women were seated, legs crossed, on opposite sides of the hall while waiting for the bride.

6Q5A37576Q5A3771

Meanwhile…the bride along with her family is now walking her way to Gurudwara.

6Q5A3656
The bride is ready to rock her wedding.

6Q5A3682

The groom and bride sat in front of Guru Granth Sahib, or the Sikh’s holy book, as the priest read the prayers. The groom’s scarf was then tied with the bride’s as a symbol of unity. Then the Four Lavans were performed.

6Q5A37966Q5A3804

While Hindu Wedding performs Mangal Phere or Seven Vows (will be mentioned later), Sikh Wedding performs Four Lavans. Read the quoted description below:

The four stanza of the hymn describes the progression of love between a husband and wife which is analogous to that between the soul (bride) and God (the husband). After the conclusion of the recitation of each stanza the groom followed by the bride holding the end of the scarf go around Sri Guru Granth Sahib in a clockwise direction while the ragis sing out the recited Lavan stanza. After each round the couple sit down and listen while the officiate reads the next stanza. The ragis then sing it while the couple completes another walk around Sri Guru Granth Sahib. This process is repeated four times in total for each stanza of the Lavan after which the couple sit down.

6Q5A3846

You are now pronounced husband and wife. Vadhaiyan Akash and Simran!

I may not described the Sikh Wedding as detailed as I did about Hindu Wedding. I was just so mesmerized of what were happening around me that I did not bother to ask, and everyone was seriously watching the ceremony (chit-chatting could be disrespectful). The wedding was brief anyway.

There was no reception since they were a second wedding in the evening, however there were tea and halwa, a sweet made of flour and clarified sugar (as per Avinash) served afterwards.

6Q5A3988
Congratulations, love birds!

Hindu Wedding

Like I’ve mentioned, there were two weddings. The second one which was Hindu Wedding took place around 8 o’clock in the evening at Chefs Hotel, Sangrur.

As much as I wanted to share everything in details for a better comprehension , I surely still have lack  of knowledge of all the rituals since this was the first time I attended an Indian Wedding. Nevertheless, I’ll still try to incorporate all the data I’ve gathered from the web and my ever-reliable boyfriend Avinash. (Thanks, love!)

RIN_8425.JPG
The groom with his sisters. (Yup, that was me photobombing)

The night started with Baarat or the groom’s procession. The groom along with his friends and family, accompanied by the live bass drummers, danced his way to the venue. This was the most enjoyable tradition! I was in that fun-filled moment where you just can’t help but dance along the Bollywood beats. It was so amusing!

RIN_8407[1]
That’s Avinash having the best time of his life. haha!
RIN_8451[1]
Thank you, Meenakshi, for teaching me an Indian moves 🙂

And according to The Cultureist, the lively Baraat shows the happiness of the family on welcoming the bride as part of their own. Look at the photos below and see how happy we were 🙂

RIN_8464[1]
I can dance, you guys!

We were welcomed by the lavish facade of the event place. They are famous on this. And hey, “There’s no such thing as ‘too much’ in an Indian Wedding.” Just like the women’s glamorous outfits. Take a look!

6Q5A4153[1]6Q5A4158[1]6Q5A4168[1]6Q5A42476Q5A4453

Again, the groom was welcomed by the bride’s family. Members of each family exchanged garlands as a symbol of their acceptance to each other — bride’s father exchanged garland with the groom’s father, bride’s brother to the groom’s brother and so on.

RIN_8486

RIN_8509
Sim’s father and Akash’s father
RIN_8517
Groom’s brother Avinash and Simran’s brother Gurjot

The next ritual is another amusing one. Hear this thought, “Bribe to get the bride”. See the ribbon in there? It served as a barrier where the groom shall pay or bribe the bride’s sisters before he could get in the way to get his bride. It was a long and entertaining negotiation I’ve ever seen!

RIN_8536[1]
Look at the groom trying to bargain. 🙂
RIN_8477[1]
Who would win against these charming ladies? If I were you, guys, I’d accept defeat.
RIN_8546[1]
These girls surely know how to do business.

Check the groom’s face — as if he had won a lottery (which he surely did) ! 🙂

RIN_8556[1]
“I’m coming for you, Simran!”

…and here comes the Bride!

It is that most anticipated part of the event when the bride walks down the aisle and everyone is just thrilled to see how beautiful the bride is.Well, this one was extra-ordinary! Accompanied by her siblings and cousins, Simran arrived in an elegant wine velvet lehenga and danced her way to meet her husband-to-be.

6Q5A4489[1]6Q5A4484[2]6Q5A4492[1]She was such a scene-stealer! Click here to watch the video of her dancing to Saiyaan Superstar.

To begin the ceremony, Akash and Sim’s  locked off the seal with Sagai or Ring Ceremony as a sign that they are now both ready to embark on their new journey which is marriage. Awww. Happy for you both!

RIN_8637[1]

One of the captivating rituals I’ve witnessed was Jai Mala or the exchange of garlands, as a sign of their acceptance of each other.

IMAG4217[1]
Happily assisted by their sisters 🙂

Generally, the woman wears bindi (the red dot applied on the forehead) to show that she is married. On the counterpart, tilak, a red paste applied in a groom’s forehead, to signify that the bride’s family accepted him to be a part of their own. Congrats, Akash!RIN_8652[1]

Then the fun began with more dancing and…

6Q5A4609[1]6Q5A4622[2]

6Q5A4628
The couple’s first dance.

6Q5A4603

…family pictures!

Screenshot_2017-07-08-17-52-24_1[1]RIN_8679RIN_8576[1]RIN_8572[1]

RIN_8572_1[1]
Up close with Avi’s mom 🙂

And our favorite of all… FOOD!!! India is known for its splendid food, and for a big event such as weddings, I was excited to see what they have to offer! In this wedding, dinner was served in a buffet style starting from their mouth-watering appetizers up to their well-planned main course showcasing India’s finest delicacies. You don’t have to worry as they served both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes!

6Q5A41866Q5A4189

Though I didn’t try them, I was impressed of the food presented separately in different stalls. I was like, “Are they all for us?” They had it all! If there is a word beyond extravagant, that would be it! But for someone like me who is not used to eating spicy food, I indulged myself to fruit salad and pasta arrabiata, and spoiled myself in an extra servings of ice cream! To Simran and Akash’s family, you were really a generous host! 🙂

Just when I thought that the wedding was almost over, someone just told me, “It’s just starting.” There were actually more rituals to be performed! I was like…

 

 

The ceremony continued. This time the bride and groom were sitting in mandap (the altar that represents their home) in front of the priest and are surrounded by their families. Tons of rituals were performed but there were three most important that you should not miss — Mangalya, Mangal Phera and Sindoor.

RIN_8834[1]In Philippines, we use a gesture called “Mano” to show respect to elders. We take the right hand of the elders with our right hand then place it to our forehead. While in India, they show their respect by touching the elder’s feet.

6Q5A4911[1]
The couple receiving their blessings from the groom’s father.

The following rituals in the two photos below show the bride’s family members accepting Akash as their own.

6Q5A4818[1]6Q5A4823[1]

One of the important rituals is Mangalya Dharanam, where the groom ties a mangalsutra (mangal means holy and sutra means thread) around his bride’s neck. This  necklace is so significant as this symbolizes their love and marriage. In Indian tradition, the woman has to wear the mangalsutra throughout her married life.

6Q5A4805

They also performed the most essential ritual in an Hindu Wedding called Mangal Phera or Seven Steps or Seven Vows, where the bride and groom walked around the holy fire seven times as a symbol of there seven promises to each other. Most likely the “I do” part in a Christian and any Western weddings.

6Q5A4893[1]
The groom’s dupatta was tied to the bride’s lehenga as they walk hand in hand around the fire.
The next wedding ritual will be your cue that the wedding is almost over. In this ceremony, the groom applied a red/orange paste on the bride’s forehead (in the parting of her hair). Sindoor or vermilion is a sign that she is now a married woman. So, guys, whenever you see a woman with a sindoor on her forehead, back off for she is taken. 🙂

6Q5A4899
Congratulations!

The Hindu Wedding rituals may varied from one community to another but one thing is certain — it is still a sacred ceremony that unites two people together. Another important realization I’ve learned after watching these whole ceremony are 1: They are not only about the union of the couple. Unlike the weddings we’ve usually seen that only focus on the bride and groom. 2: They are also about the union of two families — showing acceptance and respect to each other.

PS: Just another funny (or not) fact: There was no “kiss the bride” in an Indian wedding just so you wouldn’t expect.

IMG_1583
Looking pretty in pink, Didi! 🙂

Special shout out to Anu Di for tagging me along with you when Avinash was so busy organizing the event. He just couldn’t help but put his inner hospitality professional in use and be helpful at the same time. I’m so proud of you, babe!

The wedding finished around 5 o’clock the next day. Yes, I was not exaggerating when I said that the wedding ceremony was 8 hour long or more! And although exhausting, it was still an enjoyable night. Just like the other guests, I definitely had a blast! For me, it was not only an unforgettable celebration but a fun learning experience about the Indian culture.

I am also beyond happy to say I got along well with Avinash’s mom and got to know the rest of his family as well. I felt the love and acceptance despite of our differences. It was indeed the best weekend of my life in India so far 🙂 I’ll share more about them on my future stories. Hope you had a good read!

Congratulations again to Akash and Simran! Thank you for having me!

RIN_8659[1]

With Love,

Atria

Bittersweet Escapes: Behind the Blog

Namaste!

This is Atria, a girl from the Philippines who moved to India in search for her inner peace and happiness, and most of all… for LOVE.

Yep, you read it right. I left my home country, my family, my dear friends and all the comfort behind, to be with Avinash, the man I met on my one-year internship in America over 2 years ago.

2016-07-29-10-15-13-1.jpg

He is from India and was also an intern. That means we had to go back to our own country once our visas expire.

Being across the world from each other for fifteen months was enough for me to decide to leave everything behind and start a new life with Avinash — and all it took was a leap of faith and a one-way ticket to India.

MOV_0016_0000000333
Avinash was so sweet to surprise me with flowers at the airport.

My journey was not easy though. Let’s just say , the plan was all against the odds. And to be honest, except from the thought of finally seeing my boyfriend again, everything else scared me. I had to constantly remind myself that “Love conquers all”. 🙂

It’s not (always) as romantic as it sounds. I’ve been here in India for 4 months now and I had the most amazing and challenging days of my life! I’ve been through the best and the bad times! And when I say bad, it includes that phase in life of an expat called “culture shock” — being so overwhelmed, disoriented, irritated, depressed, etc.

I can’t say I’ve totally overcame this stage. But I’m getting there. With the help of my boyfriend, I’m slowly understanding the culture and learning the norms and the language. I can even eat spicy food now! I have also finally met Avinash family which was one of the greatest things — and his mom — oh, she was the sweetest!

Those are only a glimpse of my new life in India and I have a lot more to share! Follow me as I tell my sweet and not so sweet journey in this blog I called “Bittersweet Escapes”.

With love,

Atria