Thursday, February 17, 2011

Whoa whatta Wedding!

A few days after my arrival the wedding festivities began. Guests started arriving to see me and to prepare and then on the 21st they started the customs and rituals and ceremonies that Punjabi weddings are known for. It was both exciting and exhausting to say the least. I was still having a lot of trouble with my circulation and by this time had developed flu-like symptoms from something someone had shared with me on the plane...gee thanks international travelers....of course, that hadn't yet stopped me from shopping every day since I got here!

So on the 21st I got my mehendi done which took over 3 hours. There were two girls who came and so each side of my body had different designs. I didn't care, I just wanted it to dry so I could move lol. I had no idea it would be so difficult to sit back and relax! I was in a good spot on the bed, kicked back...and holding both arms in the air so they didn't touch anything. It really wasn't that bad, but for a girl who had never had this done and didn't know what to expect I did find myself wanting them to hurry up and be done already. In hindsight, I should have asked them to do my legs first because then I wouldn't have had to hold my arms up as long. I could have gotten up and moved around a little, etc.

While I was getting it done the kids in the family kept me company. We were laughing and having a good time too. it actually helped me feel a little more comfortable here because up until that point I hadn't actually built up enough courage to speak what little Punjabi I had learned. I know I'm a big chicken but it comes from being a perfectionist and having an allergy to looking like fool. ;)

All the girls and women got their mehendi done as well or either did their own. Everyone was getting into the spirit of the wedding. I was excited, maybe a little nervous. I had no idea what to expect and there are no rehearsals here. I guess they figure everyone has been to so many weddings by the time theirs comes around that they don't need one. But what about the ignorant white girl....ahhhh!

On the 22nd they got us up and the ceremonies again got started promptly at 10am. hubby had to go first and the holy person came and purified him with more smoke than a house fire puts out. That went on several hours and I did not stay to watch. My throat was so dry and I had a bad cough and didn't want to keep interrupting so I left the ground floor and went upstairs until it was my turn. Thankfully mine didn't last very long and I got my bangles put on me. They put on way too many and my thumb was pinned down so after it was over I went upstairs and took off a few. It was a necessity since I had to be able to at least take care of basic bodily functions.

Later we went to the Arya Samaj temple and the conversion ceremony commenced. It was surprisingly short and involved me sprinkling myself with holy water and such. Then the wedding started seamlessly, leaving me wondering what we were doing since I spoke no Sanskrit. I made hubby double check that the ceremony had been done since it was vital for our registration. During the wedding we built a fire with oil, sticks and some kind of herbs. Mantras were being chanted, though I did not understand them. Then hubby and I had to walk around the fire seven times, called Saptapadi. When I went to get up I could not feel my right leg at all and I stumbled. I had tried to get the feeling back but it wasn't coming and hubby said I embarrased him when I fell. And much to my dismay it was all caught on video tape.

We did manage to complete all seven rounds and offered the rice to Agni each time. Sometimes hubby led me around and sometimes I led him. Then we sat again and I forget some of the other things that happened. I was getting really weak. It upset me so bad to be sick for my wedding. By the time we got home I needed a nap. Sometime later in the evening hubby informed me that we were supposed to sleep on the ground floor with all the women that night. I got so upset. I was too sick to tolerate the cold in his room (this house has no heat) and they wanted me to sleep on a marble floor in the basement? I was already laying on the bed and couldn't get up from being so sick. I had seen a doctor and he had given me medicine but that medicine was putting me into a coma like state.

Hubby went and borrowed a heater to try to keep me warm and he laid down with me. Next thing I know he was trying to wake me up and I knew he was there and understood his words perfectly but could not open my eyes or talk or move. It was like I was in a coma. Then all of a sudden hubby fell off the bed and hit the floor. I have no idea how long it took me to get my head to the side of the bed and throw my arm down to him but I managed to and (at least in my mind) I asked him what happened. He had this blank look on his face and was staring up at the ceiling unresponsive. I kept asking and finally he jumped up and freaked out, laid on the bed for a minute and then jumped up and ran out of the room.

The next thing I know I heard him throwing up violently from downstairs but still I could not move. Then the next thing I remember after that he brought his mom in the room and she slept with us. His aunt also came and I made some unintelligible statements to him and that is when he realized something was really wrong with me as well. I was coming too slowly and managed to tell him that my head was hurting and I couldn't move my body. I felt as if I was sunk into the bed and stuck. He took the heat out of the room and as the room cooled I came to and he started feeling better too. Needless to say the heater did not come back in the room and I didn't take any more of that medicine.

The morning of the 23rd there were more ceremonies starting promptly at 10 am again. I didn't feel as if I could do them as I was very weak and very sick now. I did manage to get through them though and then went to nap. Five days later I had to go say a prayer to God in front of some old tree because it was a special kind of tree. Then I had to touch the little old lady's feet (she's a family friend, they take care of her and she led this ceremony). When I tried to get down to touch her feet I almost fell over again. Hubby once again said I embarrassed him and he raced me home. And this does not end the wedding saga! There is still the reception to come.

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