India is a diverse country of more than 1 billion people, and is the world’s most densely populated country and second most populous. It’s also about as far away geographically from the United States but in many ways it’s much like the US. This former British colony is made up of more than 30 states and territories. It’s climate ranges from the humid tropics of the south to the hot and dry western deserts all the way to the snowcapped high Himalayas. It’s also a melting pot of culture and religion. Though Hindu dominates, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Sihkism is also prevalent.
Last year I had the opportunity to work not one, but two Indian-style weddings here in Colorado. This is pretty amazing because the Indian population in Colorado is relatively small. The chance that I would have two within four months is quite unusual. What’s even more amazing is that they were both at the same venue – the Fort Collins Country Club. What’s the chance of that happening? The June wedding featured Devi & Matthew. Much of Devi’s family came over from India for the occasion and it was quite the family reunion. The one thing I’ll always remember about this couple is that she never stopped smiling from the time I met her months before the wedding right up until the last dance. The September wedding featured Sumanth & Cynthia. This time, the groom was from India. Cynthia & Sumanth had a big traditional wedding in India a couple of months before the Colorado festivities, yet some of Sumanth’s family still made the multi-day flight to the US. They had a really fun crowd with lots of dancing. They even had Bollywood style dancers entertain their guests after dinner. Truly one of my favorite weddings of the year. While both weddings incorporated Indian traditions in both the ceremony and reception, they were predominately Western in style.
Weddings in India, are of course, a bit different. In general they tend to be multi-day events. Depending on the family’s budget and social class, they can also be quite opulent and grandiose. It’s not unusual to have 200 to 500 guests attend with lots of food, music, and celebration. As with most Asian weddings, Indians celebrate with color as the wedding garments that both the bride and groom wear are colorful and most change attire between the ceremony and reception. Though there is plenty of dancing at the reception, there is also much time spent visiting with friends and family. Since the celebration usually lasts for at least a couple of days, there is plenty of time to mingle as opposed to most American weddings where the couple sometimes seemed overwhelmed and rushed with the limited time factor. Since there are so many regions, religions, and cultures in India there are no set traditions but many include a Henna Party, the Baraat (the men’s party), the Pheras or Saptpadi fire ceremonies, and the very popular Vidai or Rukhsati ceremony where the bride finally says goodbye to her family to be with her new husband.