28 November 2017: So I’m aware that Asian weddings tend to have a lot more guests than your average British wedding. However, what I hadn’t realised was that it was acceptable to invite additional random people to tag along with you when you were invited to a wedding. This is exactly what happened to us when the owners of our guest house in Bikaner invited us along to a Hindu wedding that was taking place in town.
So off we went to this large open air venue in the evening. We had worried a little bit about what to wear (the contents of our rucsacs not really extending to formal wedding guest attire) but in the end, we fitted in ok as there was a huge range of clothing from the bling bling beautiful saris to scruffier people in jeans, down jackets and trainers. Apparently this time of year is high wedding season in Rajasthan (no matter what day of the week it is) albeit it can get a bit chilly in the evenings.
Unsurprisingly we knew no one and, again unsurprisingly, we stood out a little.: although to be fair we were never asked the direct question of “who are you?” or “what are you doing here?” – instead we just had all the normal “from where are you from?” type of questions that we seem to get wherever we go. Peter, in particular, seemed to be a real hit and patiently went through the same basic introductory conversation several times.
There was a vast amount of food and we merrily tucked in which seemed to be the done thing to do. In fact we may have tucked in a little too much as it was only after a while that we realised that we had perhaps over concentrated on the stalls serving starter type food and that in fact on the other side of the venue full main courses were available. Still, we didn’t let this put us off …. and happily tucked into that too: we wouldn’t have wanted to miss out after all. There was no alcohol though.
As for the bride and groom, they arrived separately – the groom dressed in white arrived on horse-back with lots of dancing and cheering and the bride (dressed in a red sari with lots of gold on it) arrived later although her entry didn’t have as much pomp and ceremony about it. We didn’t witness any ceremonial bits (weddings tend to go on over several days) but instead saw the bride and groom have formal photos taken with all their wedding guests, group by group: given the fact that there were hundreds of guests (possibly over a thousand), this was a lengthy process and I was quite worried for the couple – while their guests (and gate crashers!) all got to tuck into the food, they didn’t seem to get any refreshments and posing for so many photos didn’t look that much fun it has to be said. Although the owners of our guest house were keen for us to also join them on stage for their photo with the happy couple, we thought that that was possibly one step too far and politely declined.