The top echelon of the bride’s family, meaning the males, had to go to the Jaipur train station to receive the Barat (the grooms wedding procession) led by the groom’s father, the Maharaja of Jodhpur.
All of them had to get fitted with a safa (turban), and as there was only one person folding the safa it was a slow process.
Of course it started with the usual confusion. What is India without confusion? The problem was, that Jaipur has a couple of train stations, and our family had not received notice where the train (“the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels”) would stop. Somehow they found out the train went to a suburb of Jaipur as it was easier to get the Barat transferred into buses from there.
On the way to the train station, the car that Hari was a passenger in, was hit by a couple of trucks. The car was badly damaged, the passengers were, thank goodness, not hurt. Hari told the driver to continue, if the car could still move. So he did, and they reached the station just in time.
They received the Maharaja and the rest of the groom’s procession. Of course there were lots of reporters and photographers to record this historic event.
When the men got back we thought we would have time to rest a bit before having to get dressed and prettied up for the wedding that afternoon, but no, there were other plans that we of course did not know of…
We had to go, with the parents of the bride and a few other family members, to the Rambagh Palace for some kind of ceremony. I could not figure out what kind of ceremony, so we just sat back in the car and let this happen too.
We were ushered into a private hall, where quite a few covered items were laid out on the floor. We sat along the sides of the room, accompanied by some people of the groom’s side as well as the owner of the Rambagh Palace Hotel.
After receiving drinks (non-alcoholic!) the mystery was revealed. The covered items were the different sweets, clothing, and other items, that would be used during the wedding. This had all to be approved and then moved to the bride’s room to be blessed.
While walking back through the hotel, we saw for the first time how immense and beautiful a place this was.
Back in our hotel it was time to get dressed for the wedding ceremony.
Dressed in my wedding outfit, well, partially dressed, I ran to the room of my sister-in-law, as I knew there would be several cousins as well. I needed help getting the shawl part draped around me properly, so I would not lose it half-way through the wedding ceremony. The traditional Uttaranchal outfit consisted of a long, heavily decorated skirt, a very small short top with sleeves. Over this top went another, long sleeveless “shirt”. The finishing touch was the huge shawl of very thin fabric.
Hari is not wearing his jacket yet. Raj is wearing his new sherwani. Priya was cute in her little salwar kameez.
Everybody in the room was in certain states of dress or undress, whatever you want to call it and they thought it was great fun getting me “finished”. My sister-in-law was very impressed with the result.
Then they helped Ailish with her shawl and off we went, in search of our husbands and little Priya. Meantime the cars were more or less organized and we were told to get into the first one.
When we arrived at the Rambagh Palace Hotel we were ushered to a terrace, overlooking the huge lawn. This terrace was only for the women.
The men and everybody from the groom’s side, were on the lawn.
We could not see where the mandap (covered structure with pillars, temporarily erected for the purpose of a Hindu wedding) was, but we figured we would find out soon enough.
We were all waiting for the groom’s procession to arrive. It got later and later, but that is not unusual in India.
The terrace was large, the view overlooking the lawn and part of the building was incredible, and watching the sun slowly set was a sight to behold.
Meantime there was enough space for Priya and some other kids to run around until we finally saw the elephants moving. The procession had started.
Music, animals and lots and lots of people.
The elephants and horses moved off to one side of the lawn, while the rest of the group joined the people on the lawn.
We (women on the terrace) were told to follow one person to some other area. So we did. It was quite a walk, past the elephants, the horses, through a gate, into another part of the palace. And there we found out where the mandap was. And we also learned that only women were allowed to attend the wedding ceremony. Rajasthan apparently has different traditions. A buffet was set up for tea and snacks, and after that we found places around the mandap.
The parents of the bride came in first and the ceremony started right then and there.
The bride and groom came in later, together, followed by the groom’s father, his sister and a group of other people. The traditional wedding ceremony commenced.
While we were at the wedding ceremony, the party on the lawn was in full swing. The dance group from Askote performed here as well.
After the ceremony, a buffet dinner was set up for us. The food was delicious. But after a while we started to feel kind of deserted. Some other women were also wondering if we had to stay in the secluded area all evening. Finally a bar was opened, so that was a bit better, but still…
All of a sudden Ailish (who had earlier disappeared to join Raj on the lawn) appeared. She had come to “rescue” me!
We walked that whole way back until we arrived at the gate. Oops: a guard. Passes please. As on cue, both of us said: they are with our husbands, and we are on our way to join them. He kind of gave us a careful look; 2 western women dressed in Indian finery, carrying a young child. He gave us the benefit of the doubt and let us through.
Walking onto the huge lawn, where by the looks of it thousands of people were milling around, we started looking for Hari and Raj. We ran into some people we had not met earlier, so chatting here and there we made our way though the crowd. Tables with food were set up, lots of sumptuous desserts, bars, and of course live music. Everywhere candles, to add to the fairytale atmosphere.
We finally met up with our guys and were introduced to many people.
I was also introduced to the Maharaja of Jodhpur, the groom’s father.
It had been, in spite of part of the day being so hectic, a beautiful wedding day. And the weather had been fantastic, from sunrise until the end of the party.