Attending weddings is a fantastic way of learning a culture and we were very lucky to be invited to one in Mumbai. I am sure you have heard about week long Indian wedding with thousands of people. Well, we were there for one and was indeed a beautiful experience.
Mehndi & Dance Party
Mehndi (more known as henna) is a traditional ceremonial art usually applied on brides before wedding ceremony. They are often very elaborate and intricate patterns. The process would take up to about six hours where the mehndi artists will carefully apply henna through what looks like a small piping bag. They are very skilful at controlling the line intensity and also so steady that they hover their hands above the bride’s arm to avoid touching any wet henna that has just been applied.
This mehndi and dance party was a very fun night where the ladies had a chance to get some simple mehndi done. Of course, we needed the men to help us hold our bags, bring us water when we were thirsty and feed us too. It was about two hours of ultimate pampering from our lovely men. Maybe we should start putting on mehndi more often just as an excuse to be served. *cheeky grin* There were dance performances on stage to entertain everyone. Later on, friends and family even the bride and groom performed for the guests. The group of us non-locals were given a one day Bollywood dance lesson few days ahead so we could perform on this night. It was pretty scary but all went well and we really enjoyed it. Like any party, everyone ended up dancing through the night and gangnam style was well popular.
At the ceremony, friends and family danced away along the street outside the venue with a band playing really loud drums and trumpet. It was sweaty but fun! Then the groom headed in to the venue for a ceremony where he was stood on a platform, almost stage-like. He was waiting for the bride to come wear the garland around his neck. Her mission was to hang the garland over him as fast as possible but the groom will have to prevent this from happening too soon. It is believed that the bride will be dominant in the marriage if she managed to hang the garland over him quickly. So the groom had two of his strongest and tallest men to carry him as high above the garland as possible.
At any wedding, there is always the excitement of food. There were so many exciting as everything was new and unique to us. It was the best way to try every food there is possible, taking small portions of almost everything. Staffs and guests were very helpful, trying to explain what some of the food was but the best way to know what they mean was to try them. Who’s happy, I am!
Lots of food
During the reception at night, the bride, groom and their parents would stand on stage (as in photo above) the whole night to greet and take pictures with the guests. All the guests would queue for their turn to give their blessings to the newly wed. They stood there the whole night until the last guest greeted them before they could sit down for a very late dinner. I could only empathise the bride who was wearing a very heavy dress covered in crystals and accessories from head to toe.
Again, more food! This my dear readers, was the star (food-wise) of my entire trip in Mumbai. It was crispy with gushing flavours of sweet, sour and spicy all at one go.
Before going to Mumbai, I did some reading on the few must eats and pani puri was one of them. I was discussing about this with the bride a few days before and apparently it is her favourite. I was so excited when I saw two men making pani puri and quickly joined the queue behind a group of very happy kids asking for more. They weren’t leaving after having a dozen pops so I got impatient and stuck the little plate in my hand above the children’s head to get my one bite worth of pani puri. As soon as I popped the whole thing in the mouth, my whole face lit up as if I was risen from the ground, about to touch the sky. It was a burst full of flavours. The best snack I have had in a very long while. I would say this is my favourite food throughout the trip. One word, WOW!
This panki was another interesting food I saw at the wedding. It reminded me of roti jala we have in Malaysia. It was a yellow, paper thin crepe roasted in between two banana leaves. The panki is then peeled off the banana leaves on to the plate, eaten with green chutney.
I would like to thank our lovely host for an unforgettable trip overall. We had a wonderful time.
Note: Photos of of the beautiful bride and groom has been omitted to protect their privacy.