Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Big Fat Punjabi Wedding

So this is only part one because my reception was later in the month. However, a Punjabi wedding lasts for days so this post is long enough by itself lol. I gleaned these pages from my offline journal so I didn't leave anything out. As it turns out I was too sick to write in my journal till 2 days after so let's hope I didn't miss anything.

I arrived in Amritsar on the 16th, very tired and jet lagged to the max. On the 18th hubby and I had to go present ourselves to the court to make affidavits. Getting affidavits basically means you get a lawyer to type up some stuff (whatever you want) and take it to the courts to get your picture taken and a stamp on it. In our case we both had to certify we weren't married and were free and eligible, that we were old enough to get married and not being forced, etc.

Hubby was a complete groomzilla from the moment I purchased my plane ticket 2 months earlier. He was demanding to keep the ceremony simple, he refused to ride a white horse, etc. etc. etc. lol. I on the other hand was only concerned about being able to pick my own wedding dress. That nervousness didn't go away after I got here, it actually got worse. After I got here he became concerned with the potential social stigma of me moving in before the wedding. It didn't stop him from sharing my room mind you, but it made him a tyrant if I was out on the terrace.

On the 21st relatives started arriving and two girls came to our house to do my mehendi. I sat there on my bed without being able to move very much for 3 freaking hours while they put all that crap on me. OMG. I was covered from elbow to fingertip and knee to toenail. It was beautiful, but by the time they were done I was already over the whole mehendi thing for sure. I had a couple of mini-accidents but managed to not screw up the design entirely. I have pictures but they are scary lol. After the girls were done MIL came in and put a mixture of lemon juice and sugar on my designs to make them stick longer. I would have protested had I known what this feels like when it dries lol.

gori punjabi marriage mehendi ceremony

gori punjabi wedding mehendi ceremony

Once all that was done we had a little girl party in my room. Me and the nieces (3 of them) hung out in my room and talked. This was not my idea of fun and all the other female relatives were off doing their own thing. I don't know what because I was confined to my bed so as not to ruin the mehendi which kept falling off despite the lemon sugar from hell. We did finally go to sleep and I woke up in a mehendi mess. It was stuck to me, my clothes, my hair, my pillow, my bedsheets and it was all over the floor. Needless to say I was glad I didn't have to do the house chores.

On the 22nd I went to wash the mehendi off and shower up and get dressed. OMFG. It didn't want to come off! Now, we didn't have hot water then and it was January and I was already sick so I didn't want to be in the shower for over an hour trying to get that crap off but I had no choice. The lemon sugar was the worst because it had dried out my skin pretty bad. I did get it off and then I ran for the covers to warm myself back up. When I got back to my room Chachi was doing hubby's mehendi on his palms...he didn't bother to even get out of bed for that lol. Now, he doesn't want me to show you his picture, but I think this one is okay.

Wedding mehendi gori punjabi marriage

Later in the morning a priest came to do the halwan and purification ceremonies. Now, most of the time a bride is not privy to this stuff but I lived here so I was until the smoke got to me and I left the room. Hubby had to sit there in the middle of all of his family and participate. The priest says a lot of things in Sanskrit and common household things (like oil, incense, etc.) are burned while he says them.

sanskrit pre-wedding ritual

During one ceremony the women in the family brush the grooms head with some type of spice stick (it looked like a rosemary twig) dipped in oil. (This really made me think of the Christian concept of anointing someone's head with oil!)

American Punjabi wedding ceremony

Last, hubby had to sit in the shower stall and all the bhabi's put turmeric paste on his face and poured water around him. Now this is an adaptation of the real ceremony because groomzilla insisted on keeping his clothes on (all of them) and that he not be forced to endure the realities of the ceremony lol. We still all got pictures and I laughed at him because it's funny to me.

After that all the relatives placed money garlands around his neck and tied on the ceremonial headress. He had a pink turban overlayed with a sehera.

gori punjabi wedding cross cultural intercultural

The strings of the veil were tied back out his face though and no one forced him to ride the horse through town. I feel cheated..hahahahaha! You all should have seen the look on his face during this part. He was so mad because his family did all the ceremonies except the horse, even after he had demanded they not do any of them.

After the ceremonies for hubby were over, I had my bangle ceremony. I had stand-in parents as mine were unable to fly due to health issues.
gori punjabi wedding

gori punjabi wedding India

The family had hired maids to cook and clean so everyone ate afterwards and then we got dressed to go to the ceremony. That's when I got super nervous and had too many questions that couldn't be answered. This is what I wound up looking like (and now that I look back...omg jetlag really does cause your body to swell!) I still hadn't done my hair at this point...not that it mattered because the 2 dupattas I wound up wearing only made a huge mess of it. Oh...and I didn't have my shoes on either.

gori punjabi wedding suit salwar kameez

So here's my shoe.

gori punjabi jutti wedding

See Hindu weddings are conducted in Sanskrit so no one here knew what was going on lol. When we got to the temple the priest told me to just follow his lead. He didn't speak English and I didn't speak Hindi or Punjabi so that's what hubby told me and I did my best...which wasn't might be qualified as barely getting by and nowhere near good lol.

gori punjabi wedding relationship intercultural

We sat at the ceremonial fire pit and all the relatives sat around us in a big circle. I was having some pretty severe circulation issues that day (from the jetlag) and not long after sitting down I lost all the sensation and feelings in my left leg. I thought it would be okay because we were just sitting. I had to use a long ladle to pour oil on a fire and throw rice on the fire as part of the ceremony. Hubby did the same and we each had to sprinkle ourselves with holy (blessed) water. Then it came time to get up and I had no left leg basically. I stumbled and groomzilla got embarrassed but the show went on.

Hubby was wearing a long pink piece of fabric and they tied that to my ceremonial dupatta (I had two of them on!) We made our 7 trips around the fire (called saptapadi), me leading him part of the way and him leading me part of the way. During one part he was given rice by his relative and then he poured that into my hands and I poured it onto the fire.

Then we each placed a flower garland around the others necks (mine were all roses). Once that was done we paid our respects to the guests and then we gave everyone a small bag of candy with 101 INR in it. The priest served chai and then we went home.

Upon arriving home there were more ceremonies. All the aunties had to circle a pot of water around his head and he had to stop them from drinking until they had done it 5 times. All the while we stood in the door to the home. Then there was some kind of ceremony I won't even attempt to explain that involved some weird stick with things sticking up, a tray full of ladoo and breaking off pieces into each others hands (family members and ours). I really don't remember it and I can't describe it based on pictures alone. 

I was really getting sick and hubby borrowed a heater from his friend for our room. I took some medicine from the doctor and it knocked me out. Hubby fell asleep with the heater on and in the middle of the night he had some kind of attack that resulted in him getting nauseous, falling on top of me when he tried to wake me up for help and then falling over to the floor with his eyes open and he couldn't move or respond. I was in the bed in the same type of coma type state. After a few minutes he came too and jumped up off the floor and ran from the room panicking. I was still half unconscious and only remember bits and pieces of him violently throwing up downstairs and not being able to move myself. His mother wound up coming into the room and turning off the heat and sleeping with us for the remainder of the night.

The next morning, after I was able to get out of bed late in the morning, more ceremonies commenced. Again, I didn't understand what was going on - I was just trying to get through it at that point. I sat on the floor this time and the family presented me with an elaborate gold necklace and earring set. Then Rohit and I walked around another small fire 5 times sprinkling rice on it each time. I was very weak but managed not to stumble this time.

Thankfully that ended the ceremonies for a few days. I will be back to tell you about the rest of them on their respective anniversaries so stay tuned in!

(Update: You can read part 2 here.)


  1. thnx for sharing this wonderful occasion

  2. punjabi weddings- an all together a different experience, thanx for sharing

  3. Congrats! Even though the mehendi sounds like a mini nightmare, LOL.

  4. A very informative blog! I like learning about other cultures. I love your wedding attire. You look so beautiful. I am sorry your parents couldn't be there. It's a day you will never forget, that is for sure. Have a blessed life.

  5. Wow! This was an amazing post! Congratulations!

  6. Wow! That's quite a journey. :-) Love hearing all the details.

  7. Thank you! I wish my parents could have came too but I understood why they couldn't. I got pictures and video though.

  8. Congratulations! It sounds like a beautiful wedding and ceremonies but I am so sorry you got so sick!!!

  9. Thank you! I would have loved to have been well and able to enjoy it more. Though I still made some very good memories despite the difficulties.

  10. Lol "no left leg basically" "groomzilla." Something I won't be looking forward to when my Indian fiance and I marry. One can only laugh at the crazy things that happen at times... like the sooo many times Indian ladies don't understand how I would like to have makeup done

  11. Elayna ~ The Positive MOMJuly 3, 2014 at 12:48 AM

    Congratulations on your wedding. The pictures are great!

  12. You can avoid the losing sensation in your limbs by taking a B complex vitamin or just B12. I wish I had known that back then lol.