Patricia by Patricia

Patricia by Patricia
Patricia by Patricia

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Great Big Indian Wedding: Cultural event that ends my year!

Darwin and I were so fortunate to be included in the wedding or Erin and Niraj in Vadodara, India and I am sending this report so you can have a little experience of this if you never have had that opportunity.  I was told, if you ever get invited to a wedding in India, make sure and go. We did and what an experience! Here is a run down of the three days with some of the special images. 

Dec 28
The first day of the wedding was spectacular and everything you have seen and read about Indian weddings is absolutely true. The clothes with rich fabrics and jewels are stunning. We all got our hands painted with henna and even in the afternoon there was dancing and then a huge lunch in a giant cloth canopy in a communal garden. There were tons of servers and we were constantly being offered food and water…this region is vegetarian with no alcohol but that does not stop them in the least from a huge variety of foods and creating a contact high of good spirits and joy.

The dance on the first night was a page out of the Arabian Nights…lights everywhere, fireworks everywhere, food in great abundance but the most impressive thing was the entertainment which was put on by the friends, family and even neighbors of the groom. Each dance told a story and then great communal dancing at the end after dining. Debra was in her element and she and Erin were Queen and Princess of the evening for us. Larry joined into every dance as well and the 5 bridesmaids including Sarah were everywhere…like ladies in waiting! Check out Erin and Niraj as they entered the festivities:

All the ladies had henna hand....Erin's were up and down her arms and legs

First of many Elephant God statues and massive flower display

Brides Mom and Dad in full India regalia

One of three lounging areas at the first night dance. 

Here is the bicycle rickshaw that the bride and groom arrived in with exploding firework comes off the roof!

They dismounted the rickshaw for picture op on this swing

Large stage for the performers

details of the brides dress

Just a few of the serving staff watching the entertainment

Dec 29th

The second day was the religious ceremonies with water, sweetmeats, flowers and flames symbolizing the washing, feeding, anointing and blessings. The bride and groom ceremonies which are usually separate were combined as there were so few of us present for the bride. Drums and flutes were the order of the day with another huge, elaborate lunch under the canopy. Ann, Karen and I got to anoint Erin with turmeric butter on her feet, knees, arms and checks and it was lovely to be included in the ritual. This was the day that bought a tear to my eye! 
Bride's father....another change of clothes for the day of religious ceremonies

Mothers of the bride and groom

Bride during these early morning rituals

Flutes and drums....very loud and with rigorous dancing as the groom arrived

I wanted to try all the food, but spicy food does not like me so Darwin was my official taster. That way I am managing the second day better than the first which necessitated two or three strong anti-acids besides the Pepto Bismol and tums! It is mainly a carb diet as we have been warned against fresh fruit and raw veg and salad….lots of cooked veg here, but sadly too spicy for me.  Yummy dessert, of course, but we try to eat eggs in the morning for that protein hit. I am starting to dream about salads!

We ate three fabulous meals in the communal garden of the groom family compound. Perhaps not as large as the party plot venue or the wedding venue, but incredibly impressive. 
entrance to the groom's family home

Private garden decor

home front

entrances to communal garden

enormous canopy with hanging flowers

Every tree decorated!

The family and friends of Niraj are the kindest most helpful people and we have been treated like Rock Stars as they do everything to make us feel not just welcome but special. Many have come over from the US to share in this event including the groom’s uncle and aunt. They have explained what is going on and arranged all of our transportation to the events. It seems to me a bit chaotic, but they all know what they are doing and why.  I enjoy the ebb and flow of events and you do rather feel carried along by the profusion rituals. We understand everything is building toward the last big event but have no idea what to expect. We have seen Erin in 4 different dresses so far and she has looked exquisite in all of them as has Debra. I think we should start a new trend in San Diego to wear fabulous glittery, brocaded and embroidered clothes. I might not want to live in India, but I would love to dress as if I did.

One fabric after the other was more ornate and elaborate...I couldn't help staring!

Dec 30

Wedding Day 3 started with a short processional but it took 2 hours of intense dancing to cover about one block! We were then whisked about 4 blocks away to the venue. We entered through twinkling light and flowers and the wonderful statues that has been ever present of the Elephant God Ganesh. Basically it was explained to us that there is only one god but he has many names and duties, just like we might be mother, daughter, wife etc.

The extraordinary thing to us foreigners, was that no one paid much attention to the ceremonies.  We were even invited up to the big stage (about 60 feet long with solid wall of strands of fresh flowers) to lounge and have a closer view as all sorts of blessing and rituals were performed by the priest. The rest of the invited guest, milled around the huge grounds, indulged in the 20 of more food stations. 

After about an hour the bride arrived looking less like Erin and more like a porcelain doll.

The ceremony culminated with circling a small fire and then the reception line started with every single one of the 700 guests having their photos taken with the bride and groom. Erin and Debra showed enormous grace and stamina in smiling and greeting all these very friendly people. We left but the bride and grooms family and bridesmaid then sat down to a formal served dinner all outside. We understand, after that they were back to the host complex and there were a number of other rituals, like hiding the grooms shoe and searching for a ring in a bowl of rose petal strewn water. Mr. Disal explained that there were no shortcuts in this wedding. Every possible ceremony and ritual was observed!

Irene joined us in spirit as we readied ourselves for the 3rd and final day of celebrations

Groom is shy and very low key so arrived in this decorated car as he resisted a showier entrance, we understand. 

Flower alter waiting for it's elephant god

Giant stage with strands of flower at least 15 feet high and 50 feet long as a back drop

Groom hidden from view of his bride

Finally they are turned to face the revelers

Officially married in India once they have walked around the fire 7 times.

Big Smiles from both bride and groom

May Ganesh bless this couple. 

Basically this wedding was all about the Poteets giving up their daughter to her new family in India and most of the rituals were concerned with that aspect…however, for our small group on the bride side, we are still aware that this is moderns times and Niraj is also giving up his family to become part of the Poteet clan. The wedding in April in San Diego, will follow those lines…they are not losing a daughter but gaining a son!  

Read more about this 2018/2019 trip to India: Monuments and Museums and  India: Modern and Contemporary Art


  1. Erin's family and friends' enthusiasm, interest and respect for our culture and rituals was heartening. It was the first wedding in our family where bride was a foreigner. Everyone joining hands to enjoy all festivities made it very special as we believe that marriage is not only a union between Bridge and Groom but their families too!Wishing Erin-Niraj happy togetherness!

  2. Wow! Thanks for giving us a glimpse to the love and kindness and efforts by everyone in support of Erin and Niraj. 20 years ago Erin was at my wedding in San Diego, it’s amazing to see her so happy. My mom and Debra are cousins and Erin and I are second cousins. Love her, love her family! Just beautiful! Congrats to everyone


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