I was lucky to travel to India in Sept with a wonderful group of women. Whilst in Jaipur in Rajasthan, our driver asked us if we would like to attend a wedding ceremony of one of his relatives. Would we?? YES!! It was a major highlight of our trip. The festivities had been going on for 4 days!! We arrived on night four, the night of the ceremony.
The wedding was held in a huge fenced off area, that was lit by many generators and was as bright as a sunny day. We were overrun with well-wishers, all wanting to shake hands and say hello!! The colours of the women's Saris were so beautiful & we were allowed to go into the women's section and see the dowry presents, which were all laid out in formation. We were taken to another section and given a rather interesting meal (all served by hand), which was a great honour and were treated like film stars .The wedding Paparazzi had a field day while we were sitting eating & many photos and videos of us were taken by a camera on which were attached blinding lights!! We were taken to see the bride getting ready for the ceremony and watched as she cried, as is expected of her (Let’s face it the Bride & Groom have never laid eyes on each other I think I would be doing more than crying!!!!!)
We came & went a bit from the wedding area, as it was quite overwhelming, so needed to be taken in small doses as we acclimatised to the different sight, sounds & smells, as well as all the attention. Our driver was outside the compound and indicated that I hop on the back of the motorbike he was sitting on. I thought hey why not & so we zoomed off through the streets of Jaipur (with no helmet) I felt so alive, as we weaved in & out of cars, trucks, motorbikes, cows & camels.
Travel you just can’t beat it and in India everything is so spontaneous, you never know what you will be doing next! Ashiq drove me down to where the groom was waiting on his heavily ornamented horse, his face covered, surrounded by men carrying fluorescent lights, many generators going hell for leather, supplying power to the lights and the many drummers where drumming their hearts out ,it was a sight to behold. I was very grateful to have been taken down there and got off the bike to take some photos. Ofcourse once I was spotted on the outskirts, I was whisked into the centre of the action and told to stand & hold the horse while a myriad of photographers once again clicked away.
Once again, I hopped on the back of the bike and was whisked back to where everyone else was standing on our driver’s friend’s balcony, so we could watch the arrival of the groom. It was a beautiful warm night, the moon was huge and the lights from the distant Amber Fort, shone in the darkness. Eventually the groom & his entourage of lights, drummers/horns & generators made its way closer, preceded by a little guy letting off fireworks in the middle of the road, to announce the arrival of the groom. We made our way back to the wedding compound to see the Groom arrive on the heavily decorated podium. By this time it was passed midnight, the crowd was still as vibrant & excited as they had been in the beginning. Hundreds of children running around excitedly as they had been for hours (days?). However, as everything in India happens in Indian time, we decided not to wait for the actual ceremony.
It was a truly wonderful night that I will never forget as long as I
MARY HAMILTON-SMITH : AUSTRALIAN WOMENS TRAVEL