It was in a hall called “Laxmi Janardhana Mini Hall” although it wasn’t “Mini” at all !! On a very sunny, very hot Sunday in Udupi. It was a wedding of my coordinator’s sister and all the volunteers got very excited when he invited us. We were looking forward to the new cultural experience as Indian weddings are much different compared to the weddings functions in Germany! Furthermore it was a good reason to get dressed up a little bit. So we girls went and bought cloth for our first sarees.
When the day had finally arrived we traveled to Udupi by bus which was an adventure because we feared that the sarees would fall down any minute. Beginner problems. Of course they didn’t. In front of the hall we felt like on the red carpet of Hollywood as there was actually a red carpet and lots of nicely dressed people entering. Inside we were greeted with sweet badam milk and live saxophone and drums music. The hall itself was the opposite of small. About 200 people were sitting in front of a colorfully decorated stage on which bride and bridegroom were standing surrounded by their families. And their clothes! He was wearing a traditional modi suit in light gold. She a red and golden saree with tons of flowers in her hair! They were both looking beautiful and matched perfectly.
Once we sat down we actually didn’t realize that the ceremony had already started as people were coming and going and walking to the stage to take pictures. My coordinator came and greeted us and told us to take pictures whenever we want and the atmosphere was much more relaxed than at German weddings. We observed fascinated how the couple performed the Sapthapadi rituals by walking around a small fire seven times. Afterwards they sat down in two huge chairs and one half of the hall started moving to have lunch in the big food hall. We volunteers were all rather confused what was happening but the other coordinators enlightened us.
During that time the groom changed his modi to a black suit and the rest of the wedding guests started to build a line for taking pictures with the newly wedded couple and to wish them a „Happy married life“. Letting some time go by and enjoying the event we finally also joined the line. When it was our turn to give them our blessings we took a handful of rice, threw it over their heads (more or less professional) and wished them all the best.
Then the ceremony was finished and my coordinator led us in a smaller hall with a big buffet! There were about three different sambas and curries and even more different vegetables and even more different sweets! Too many dishes to ask for all their names especially if you are hungry… So I will just say that the food was delicious and we all looked very happy and content on the pictures that we took afterwards.
Now a big thank you to my coordinator and his family, especially his sister and her husband for inviting us and letting us being part of such a great and happy event! It was a wonderful experience!
Johanna from Germany