Abhi toh Party shuru hui hai

It was my friend Jayne’s sister’s wedding this weekend.

Sunday…

we performed our dances, then danced the rest of the night even when the lights went out and it was pouring rain.

I knew so many of the songs and it was so great to dance to them again (including ones I danced to with Midd Masti! – the Humma Song and Nachde me Saare). The dance’s choreographer and cousin to the bride said he’s going to quit his life as a banker and come back to Nairobi and start a dance crew. Vas and I signed up to be the first students if it ever really happens.

I would love to spend all my free time learning Bollywood dances.

Vas, Maddy, and me at the dancing/cocktail party on Sunday.

On Monday night…

we went to the Oshwal Centre for a quick greet with the families (lots of namaste-ing to adorable teeny grannies in beautiful saris) and then a thali-style dinner. The pistachio burfi was so good.

Me, Vas, Jayne (sister of the bride), and Maddy after dinner Monday night. I’m always the short one in volleyball team pics but the towering giant in pics with other friends.

The first night, we wore kurtis for the dancing and on Friday everyone was in a mix of Indo-Western styles.

Tuesday…

was a public holiday in Kenya, and the date of the final ceremony. We started our morning early with some ball gowns in Java.

Vas and I did a quick Java run for coffee and muffins.

We drove out into the countryside to the gorgeous Fuscia Gardens our among the tea farms. First, we welcomed the groom’s party with dancing and also the bride’s family stole his shoes?! He’s supposed to pay to get them back but I’m not sure how that worked out in the end. “London Thumakda” got way stuck in my head, and we had a reprisal of Bollywood “Shape of You.”

The bride’s family blessed the groom and his family as they entered – during the blessing, the bride’s auntie tried to grab the groom’s nose, like you play when you’re little with your parents. He couldn’t move away, but his friends and family would pull him away if she got close. Whether she grabbed it was supposed to symbolize whether the bride’s family will have much say in the bride’s new married life.

The camera guys were intense. Also, the groom doesn’t have shoes on in this pic. Just stolen!

Then we had chai (mmmmm) and noms, including poori, the best breakfast food of all time. There was a break as we waited for the bride to officially arrive, so we took advantage of the ominous clouds and our swirly dresses.

We’ve decided everyone should just wear formal Indian outfits all the time. So colorful and flowy and swirly!

There was a cute moment after the bride’s party officially entered where the groom was “revealed” to the bride by popping up from behind a banner before both were seated on the ceremony dais. They were draped in enormous garlands of white and pink flowers and a thin chain that went over both their heads, linking them together. The bride’s skirt was also tied to a piece of cloth draped over the groom’s neck.

Dhruti and Keval looking amazing at the start of the ceremony

There were a lot of prayers and throwing things into the fire and tying their hands together during the ceremony. I couldn’t quite follow since it was in Gujarati. Got some good Hindi word recognition practice out of it though!

The most famous and exciting part of the ceremony was when the bride led the groom around the fire. She led him three times, each time greeting and accepting blessings from different family members: her parents, her father’s eldest relatives, her mother’s eldest relatives. The fourth and final time around the fire, he led her and they were greeted and blessed by the groom’s family.

Before each circle around the fire, there were prayers and the couple threw rice into the flames. After each circle, the man presiding over the ceremony would count to three and they would sit as fast as possible – the one who sat first would signify who would have more control over the household.

The whole wedding was full of fun and silly traditions, vibrant colors, and lots of involvement from all friends and family.

At the end of the amazing weekend and, for Jayne, months of wedding prep. Jayne: I need a drink!

Published by

Hannah Blackburn

Hannah Blackburn is an associate at IDinsight in Nairobi, Kenya. IDinsight is a non-profit organization that uses a variety of data-driven research methods to help decision makers in the development field maximize their social impact.

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