Finger Paint not Finger Food
One of my favorite Bohri Indian wedding festivities was the Mehendi / Vanne-Tanne. What normally are two parties, one hosted by the groom’s family, and one hosted by the bride’s family, was combined into a spectacular party mid-day in the middle of Mumbai. The party was held at a beautifully decorated space, with heaps of spectacular flower arrangements. Even the walk to the event was lined with beautiful flowers, and there were strings of flowers creating a welcoming entrance. Once inside, there were two little trees which held bangles, as party favours for the ladies. This was one of the most welcome of atmospheres for an event! Everything just exuded “Welcome! Come on in and enjoy yourself.”
We quickly searched the room for our friend and familiar faces. By now, we had gotten to know some of the cousins, aunts and uncles and spent the time catching up and ruminating on the day’s festivities. Our friend had advised us to bring confetti to the event. Any event involving confetti is bound to be a party! In fact, the night before, Andrew and I had gone searching for dinner, and I passed a man selling a little bubble gun. It looked like a lot of fun, and I thought it might be a fun addition to the confetti festivities, so I drove a hard bargain, and picked up a bubble gun. Confetti, check. Bubbles, check. I was ready.
As the party got underway, it started with a Katha ceremony. Four aunts from both sides of the family gathered in a circle on a rug to perform a little ceremony involving grinding betel nuts, spices and jasmine oil to crush away bad omens and bring joy and harmony to the couple. It was fun to watch, and the aunts all took their role in stride, enjoying the festivities. It was refreshing, but the best part of the Katha ceremony was that the whole party throws confetti, and silly string, and of course, there was my frog shaped bubble gun! The bride’s side of the family was a very enthusiastic bunch and the aunts were bombarded with significant mess, while the groom’s side of the party was far more reserved. But in instances like this, I think the enthusiastic group won the spirit award.
After the Katha ceremony, or at any point during the event really, the women (and if they wanted, the men too) could get henna done on their hands. As mentioned earlier, the bride had gotten Mehendi/henna, applied on her hands, up her forearm, and feet and legs. The ladies today only got henna done on their hands. Traditionally, there are patterns with various significance, but today’s event was more for fun and pretty patterns were given priority. The ladies who applied the henna were very nice and very diligent! The only drawback was that you had to let the henna dry on your hands, and you couldn’t touch anything while it was drying.
A little while after the Katha ceremony, and after I had my henna applied, the Mosalu ceremony took place. At this ceremony, the maternal aunt and uncle of both the bride and groom, performed a little ritual, with a dollop of mehendi on the wrist, and the exchanging of clothes and shoes. It was beguiling to watch the bride and groom change out of one party costume and into another. They would have plenty of outfits for the remainder of the weddings they attend! The bride’s new outfit was a stunning white/gold fabric shaped into flowery patterns. The garment was stunning, and looked even more magnificent on the bride herself! Following the ceremonies, there were a couple of speeches by close friends and family of the bride and groom.
Also after the ceremonies, my tall husband was recruited to hold a rope, with nuts and candy bobbles attached, high into the air, along with one of the bride’s cousins, for the children to grab. It was reminiscent of the Mexican pinata tradition, a culture that I was more familiar with. After the bobbles were more or less compromised by the young, I got my hands on a wrapped goodie, though I was disappointed that I had wound up with a large walnut in it’s shell, and not a chocolate. More importantly, I didn’t see any nutcrackers.
I wasn’t disappointed long, as lunch was starting. I had been very diligent about only eating a couple of the hor d’oeurves that were present throughout the ceremonies, saving room for the main course. And my diligence paid off. There were cold salads, and hot curries as well as a large hot plate where chefs mixed veggies and spices right in front of us to make fresh, ridiculously tasty dishes. There were lamb and chicken dishes and plenty of lentils and veggies. There were breads and even a dish likened to a cheese crepe made fresh to order. I had no shame going back for seconds!
After ensuring the bride had a bite to eat, I went to scope out the dessert table. There were two dishes. One was cold stone ice cream, a very welcome dish on these hot days. Chocolate and vanilla mixed with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce. Yum! There was also a milky pudding. Very yum! A sweet event!