Agni, the God of Fire is the witness to the union. The bride and groom take seven steps around the sacred fire. It is not only a wedding of a couple, it is a wedding of two families. It is a wedding of two cultures, north Indian and south Indian. It is all melting together here outside New York City
It is a three day wedding. More than three hundred guests. People have flown in from many parts of the world. The wedding starts with an evening cruise onboard the S/S Atlantis on the waters outside Manhattan. It is a warm, clear evening. Stars in the sky. New York’s sky line is passing by. The lit up Statue of Liberty is more impressive at night than at day.
After the dinner onboard, the partying starts. Music. Rhythms. Dancing. Bollywood. Life. Joy. Just after midnight, the Atlantis is coming back to Pier 9 in Brooklyn. We take a taxi back to our hotel at Midtown on Manhattan.
The second evening, there is another dinner. Another party. More music. More dancing. Indians know how to party. And then comes the big day. The wedding.
The venue is the Greentree Club, a seaside country club outside New York City. The groom is arriving on horse back to the rhythm of drums. Dancing people. Colour. Smiles and joy. A Bollywood movie could not be better. Ceremonies continue for three hours. Everything seems chaotic, disorganized. But the Hindhu wedding follows a detailed plan. The priest is leading the old, traditional ceremonies. Movements. Colour. Mantras. Drums. Finally, the couple is married. The families are married. People throw sacred rice, blessing the newly married.
At the wedding dinner in the evening, the colours are gone. The dress code is dinner jacket, tuxedo or dark suit. But the music continues. Bollywood continues. Bollywood in black and white. You can take the Indian out of the village. But you can never take the village out of the Indian.