Guess What We Found at Our Big Fat Indian Wedding? – Part 1

Posted on July 11, 2019

My daughter got married last month, and before that happened, I took two months off! The time was not spent sitting by the ocean (my favorite pastime) or soaking in the sun (another fave). I spent the two months helping to make sure the wedding got to the finish line! What started nine months ago—when my new son proposed to my daughter, Nitasha—came to fruition on May 31. That was the wedding day that launched our children’s life of togetherness.

And yes, I refuse to use the word “son-in-law” because it underlines the fact that Sameer became my son after a legal commitment to Nitasha. In truth, he felt like a son during our very first meeting at Alfred’s Coffee in Studio City two years ago. Sameer had a sincere, humble, intelligent, and deeply spiritual presence, and I felt like I had always known him. It was like a reconnecting with a part of myself that had been hidden all these years.

I truly believe that our closest lifelong relationships are not with people we meet but with people who have always been within us. And it fascinates me that we give birth to children who follow our footprints until one day, all of a sudden it seems, they are in the lead and weaving a new life while we follow their footprints. I’m grateful that through Nitasha we have a new family web with Sameer and his family.

As for the wedding…oh, my! During the nine months of preparations, Nitasha and I were attached at the hip. We spoke or messaged each other a dozen times each day. We were lucky enough to take two trips to India to arrange for our wedding outfits, and all that time we were together 24/7. I loved that through the process, we agreed on a lot of things. Even more, I loved that we pushed each other on a few things. That gave our mother-daughter relationship a bit of a run for our money. But I cherished the growth that came from it and learning about each other as adults and respecting each other.

Like most kids, Nitasha had grown and flown the nest more than ten years ago. Even though we are close to each other, we lead our own lives. But when it came to wedding planning, we became a team with a single, unified focus. Nevertheless, at the onset, we set a Wedding Mission Statement: Under no circumstances would the wedding planning become more important than the love and respect we have for each other. Period. With that in mind, we proceeded to fulfill her wedding vision.

As at most traditional Indian weddings, we had five main events over the course of a week:

  1. Mehendi (henna ceremony): This was the day that Nitasha got her hands and feet adorned with henna. In attendance were family and Nitasha’s friends.
  2. Chudha (bangle ceremony): The maternal family (my parents and siblings) hosted this event, where Nitasha’s uncle and aunt (my brother and his wife) put her first red wedding bangles on her arm. The sweet message was clear: We bless you on your journey forward, but we always have your back.
  3. Sangeet (music night): This is the most playful of all wedding events, where the couple’s siblings, cousins, aunts, bridesmaids, groomsmen, friends, and other family members dedicate a Bollywood-inspired dance to the couple. There was a lot of laughter when we, Nitasha’s parents, presented a dance. And there were tears of happiness when cousins danced to favorite childhood songs. My son, Navin, was in three different dances and surprised us all with his unsuspected and smooth Bollywood dance moves!

  4. The Wedding: This day was the most magical in every way. Sameer looked dashing as he arrived in the Baraat (wedding procession), accompanied by a lot of dancing and music, to meet our stunning Nitasha and her family and friends. From the first moment, both bride and groom looked composed and comfortable, despite their extravagant clothing. They had an aura of togetherness and piety that words cannot express. Their vows to each other were heartfelt. The minister explained each Hindu ritual with such clarity and purpose that our guests, who came from all faiths and cultures, said they drew new meaning from the ceremony of marriage. Two moments touched me deeply: first, when Harish, my husband, and I walked Sameer down the aisle, as is customary in Indian weddings. The second was when Navin tearfully walked Nitasha down the stairs and handed her over to Harish, who then walked her down the aisle and gave her a kiss on the forehead before seating her at the altar.
  5. The Grand Reception: My daughter had chosen a white theme for this enchanting evening event, which seemed to reflect Nitasha’s own simplicity and elegance. Sameer stole the show with a speech honoring his bride and both sets of parents and grandparents, while expressing gratitude to all the family and friends in attendance. The speeches by the fathers also brought tears to everyone’s eyes. Navin was master of ceremonies, and his presence and infectious sense of humor kept everyone laughing and crying at the same time!

Over the two weeks following the wedding, we received countless texts and messages all expressing the same comments: There was so much love at every event, it was the most beautiful wedding we have attended. I personally was on an emotional high. It wasn’t that the wedding went perfectly. We had our fair share of turbulence and missteps. But they paled compared to what I was feeling, which was beyond explanation.

When we got the wedding highlight video, I watched it with Navin, who had been caught on camera crying or tearing up four separate times. “What is this, Mom,” he asked me. “I’m not even the parent, and I couldn’t hold back my tears! At the wedding, I felt like a water fountain, and at the reception, I couldn’t share the crazy stories about Nitasha that I had planned. Every time I talked about her or Sameer, I choked.”

At first, I was stumped for a reply, but a mother’s instinct always seems to supply the right response when your child asks a question. Perhaps that’s the reason they say mama will find the answer. In that moment, my soul spoke. “This is joy, my son,” I heard it say. “This is true joy.” We both shared a few silent moments and then gave each other a hug. Yes, we found joy at our big fat Indian wedding.

The next day, Navin and I picked up where we left off, and I can’t wait to share how my son and I explored the meaning of joy together. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post in next week’s blog: The Joy in Our Big Fat Indian Wedding.