A Wedding at the Sea Shore with a Sense of Tradition
Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the wedding of Nikita Malik and Devrup Banerjee at The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dead Sea. Nikita, a researcher and journalist that currently works at the Quilliam Foundation conducting research on women, children, and families against radicalization, is the daughter of my friends Nickunj and Mayank Malik.
The wedding, which was held at the Dead Sea, was the most unique I had been to in Jordan. Since Nikita and her partner come from Indian heritage, the wedding’s theme followed suit. Everything, from the gorgeous crimson red and silver invitations, to the scrolls with information about the wedding fit the theme impeccably. One of my favorite aspects of the wedding was that I finally got to dress in a sari! It’s not everyday one gets to wear such colorful and beautiful garments; I really enjoyed that experience.
Traditional Indian weddings are an experience within themselves. Though the customs do vary throughout the country, there are many rituals that are repeated throughout the customary wedding processions. Nikita and Devrup’s wedding featured various special customs, including Barat and Milni. Barat, which means ‘wedding parade’, featured the groom and his family assembling on the beach along with music, dance and laughter. This parade is followed by the Milni, the meeting of families, in which the Malik family welcomes the Banerjee family at the beach. The bride’s mother then marked Dev’s forehead with red powder as a symbol of being welcomed into the family. The two then exchanged flower garlands, which are referred to as ‘Jai Mala’, and then Nikita’s parents honour the groom by offering him a sweet drink. Watching this process was mesmerizing, and I felt honoured to be among the guests. I loved how every step of the process involved the bride, groom and their families, it really felt like an integrated experience for everyone involved.
After the flower garlands were exchanged, Nikita’s parents blessed her and placed her hands into her groom’s palms. His scarf was then tied to hers, the knot signifying their marital bond. Together, the couple circle the fire seven times, with each step signifying something special. The first step taken together represented nourishment, the second growing together in strength, the third in preserving communal wealth, then sharing both joys and sorrows, caring for children and parents, and then finally living together forever and remaining friends for life. After the steps were taken, Dev rubbed vermillion powder along the parting of Nikita’s hair and tied a mangalsutra.
The entire wedding was an unforgettable experience and an honor for me; I especially loved watching the couple going through the various stages of life representation in the circle; the whole ceremony is a joyous depiction of life’s stages and what a couple needs to fulfill their vows of matrimony, all the while including the parents, emphasizing the importance of unity and family.
An Indian wedding is an experience to cherish and to learn from.