South Asian Weddings

I have questions! (Sorry, this is longish)

I'm not familiar with Indian wedding traditions at all, and his standard answer to any question I have is, "I dunno. I never paid attention at the family weddings; I was just there for the parties." His mother is currently refusing to acknowledge our engagement (racism abounds and nobody's happy he picked a white girl), so she won't discuss wedding stuff with me. She'll talk out anything else, but clams up the minute you utter the word "wedding."

So I'm here, hoping that at least some of my questions will get answers. Thanks in advance, ladies!

~Is the actual structure/shape of the havan kund significant? Can we use a regular brazier?

~Who starts the fire and what is used to start it (charcoal, wood, etc)? Who puts it out at the end of the ceremony? We're getting married by a notary - will this duty fall to him?

~FI hates my hair covered. Is a dupatta a requirement or can I get away with not wearing one? If it's imperative, does it have to match the sari? I haven't narrowed down my final sari choice, but none of the ones in my price range come with a matching dupatta.

~Regarding the processionals - I've watched a few videos of Indian weddings and it seems that there is a huge processional for the groom, after which the bride's family always greets the groom's family at the entrance. Then there is an equally huge processional for the bride. Who is in the bride's processional if her family is greeting his family? And how do we make such things work when we have a 70-person guest list, my white family won't know what to do, and the dressing rooms are connected to the garden area where our wedding will take place?

~About invitations - we're planning on having all the wedding celebrations over a weekend - starting on Friday evening with the henna party/sangeet, figuring out something for Saturday (no clue what yet), and ending on Sunday evening with the wedding. Can we put all of the invitations for these events with the wedding invitation, or should we send separate invites for each event?

~About the henna party - is the bride supposed to host that? What do we need for such a party, beyond food and a henna artist? Should I maybe try to rent out one of the local Indian restaurants for the evening or can it be held at someone's home?

I think that covers everything so far. Thanks again for any input you can offer.
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Re: I have questions! (Sorry, this is longish)

  • Meghana55Meghana55 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    First of all, I'm sorry that you have to deal with these issues with your FILs!

    Second of all, keep in mind that some of the events/traditions that you have suggested are not "must haves" and vary by region.  Customs across the states can vary greatly.  So without knowing what area of India your FI's family is from, it's difficult to definitely say what you should be doing.

    For example, with regard to the dupatta - A dupatta may not be necessary.  I'm south indian and I have never seen any of my cousins wear a dupatta on their head, nor did I - while in other areas of India the family requires that you have your head covered.  If you do decide to get a dupatta, it doesn't have to match your sari, although for aesthetic purposes, something that coordinates would be best.  You could probably find a very simple gold dupatta online - and gold would coordinate with many saris, depending on the detailing of yours.

    Regarding the processional - this is typically a north indian custom again (the Bharat), and not entirely necessary so don't feel that you absolutely have to do it. 

    A henna party can absolutely be held at home and can be hosted by anyone.  You just need a few decorations, cater food and hire a henna artist.   You could ask some of your FI's cousins to perform a dance or skit.  You can either make the henna party all female, or many people opt to make it co-ed. 

    For invitations, you could either do separate invitations for each event.  Or you could send out one main invitation for the ceremony/reception and add inserts for the other events.
  • edited December 2011
    Didn't even occur to me to mention where his family's from. His dad is from Mumbai, while his mom is from a small village in the south. I've seen one wedding picture, and her hair was uncovered.
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  • edited December 2011

    Eeek and I thought I had it bad.

    My fiance is also not Indian so he is running into the problems you are having.

    The first thing I tell him when he asks me questions about what is the "right" thing to do is whatever he wants to do is the right thing.

    We are having a hindu ceremony, but we are accomodating the fact that he is not Indian.

    You certainly don't have to cover your head.  Not all Indian brides do.  Unless your family has a preference, it's usually the brides choice.

    As for the invitation, most invitations I get have everything in one.  But if you wanted to do different invitations that is up to you, but it might get expensive.

    I did have a question about your timeline.  How are you having the henna party and sangeet on the same day?  Are you actually putting henna on at the henna party?  If so, you're not going to be to move for between 4-6 hours after the henna is put on.  In our family the henna party is usually the week before (usually Wed before wedding) at the bride's home.  This way if you've got to not move for hours, you are at least comfortable.  The henna artist all say that it is best to do the henna at least 72 hours before the wedding so it will look the best during the wedding.

    As for the processional, granted my family is north indian, but we usually have the grooms family met at the entrance to the building where the wedding will be held by the brides mother and the brides family (not the bride).  Then both families shout insults at each other and try to prove they are better at shouting insults.  We are not doing this because his family would be totally confused.  My mother is meeting my FI at the door and doing a little ceremony with him, but then everyone is just going to walk in.  An optional thing is that the bride comes out and brings a haar (the lei indian couples wear) and the bride and groom play a game where they try to be the first ones to put the lei on the other person.  If you do this, it will ruin your walk down the isle as everyone will see your dress and you have the potential in the tusseling of the game to ruiln your hair/outfit.

    That's about all I can answer.  I have no idea about the havan kund question.  Usually the bramin takes care of all of that.

    ami

  • edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_south-asian-weddings_questions-sorry-this-longish?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:430Discussion:24bed5f8-e288-4152-968d-e6ead9f1f41ePost:e68ca4f0-0322-4014-9a44-a15b9a7be6c5">Re: I have questions! (Sorry, this is longish)</a>:
    [QUOTE] How are you having the henna party and sangeet on the same day? 
    Posted by tinkerbell1910[/QUOTE]

    We don't have the time to do the henna party four days before the wedding - half the guests and nearly all the Indian ones will be flying in two days prior. I hadn't considered the logistics (and me a henna enthusiast too! *tsk*) of combining the two - I had just read somewhere that they can be combined.

    However, that just gave me an idea for what to do on Saturday. Maybe fly guests in on Friday morning/afternoon, have the henna party Friday night, have the sangeet on Saturday and the wedding on Sunday and send everyone home to their respective states on Sunday night/Monday sometime. Is that timeline more feasible?

    If the priest usually handles the starting and putting out of the fire, maybe that task can be given to the officiant. He's a friend and the three of us (me, FI, Rob) are writing the ceremony together, so I'm sure we can make that work. Mosty I'm concerned about the actual structure of the havan kund, because there's only one place in less than a two-hour drive that rents them and they're expensive.
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  • shwethasrinshwethasrin member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I don't think the shape matters too much, it's the fire itself that's important. For my wedding we are probably going to make a havan out of an aluminium food tray (the temple administrator said that people do this all the time) surrounded by brick. Easy and cheap to make. 
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