Today was Babita’s wedding day, and it was a lot of fun. We had breakfast as usual and you could feel the excitement in the air. My class and I all signed a card for her and her husband after breakfast and then got dressed. We had such a great time getting ready. We went shopping a few days ago for these outfits so they are all new and gorgeous, and we all had that wonderful feeling of wearing clothes that you just bought for the first time. I love all the colors and shimmery threads and fabrics that I’ve seen here. Seeing them makes me happier. Cecily did my makeup up on her balcony and together we got to look at the monkeys the whole time. Then Bella and I had a dance party in our room while getting ready. I have been loving bonding with my classmates while on this trip.
After we were ready and took a million pictures, the women went on one bus and the men on another. Our destination was a Sikh temple in Haridwar where the ceremony was going to be held. It was touching to see everyone so happy for Babita, and I felt honored to be able to experience this special day with her. According to Radha, this was going to be a relatively short ceremony. She said that many wedding ceremonies can take up to four or five hours just singing prayer songs.
After the ceremony, we all went back to the ashram for the afterparty. There were flowers and colors and food everywhere. It was amazing. We danced and ate and laughed together, it was really special. My classmates, Silva, and I performed our dance routine for the second time in front of everyone. I thought we did a better job yesterday, but it was still fun nonetheless. Many of the other girls had prepared dance routines to perform as well, so groups took turns performing and cheering for each other. When people moved from choreographed dances to letting it all out on the dance floor, Bella and I were right there with them. I had so much fun dancing with all the girls, I’m very glad I got to have this experience.
Today has been long awaited. For months we’ve been hearing about being at the Sri Ram Ashram for Babita’s wedding. We’ve asked questions like, “What should we wear?” “Who is going to be there?” And, “Why are we invited to a strangers wedding?”
For the last couple of days we have been preparing for the wedding. We went shopping in Delhi, and participated in the Mehendi and Haldi celebrations, and even learned a dance from some of the older girls who grew up at the Ashram. This morning when everyone was finally ready, which was about thirty minutes after we were supposed to be, which we were told was pretty good for Indian time, we all piled into two rickety buses; girls in one and boys in the other. We then made the quick drive to the Sikh temple where the ceremony would take place.
When we arrived, we followed the normal instructions at the gurdwara, shoes off, walked through a shallow pool of water, and covered our heads. Inside the gurdwara we sat criss- cross applesauce, and waited for the rest of the guests, and the bride and groom to arrive. As more people filled in, the floor of the girls’ side turned into a colorful sea, with bright sparkly saris and matching kurtas and pants. After excitingly waiting for what felt like hours, Inderjeet and Babita finally came into the gurdwara. They were both dressed in pink, but Babita had accents of blue and gold on her skirt and scarf, and was laden down in gold jewelry.
The ceremony was relatively short, and though I could not understand most of what they were saying it was still incredible to watch. When it was over, we piled back into the buses and headed back to the Ashram where a beautiful tent had been set up with pink drapery and beautiful flowers. The kids were all waiting for us, and immediately led us into the reception area to get soda and popcorn. When Inderjeet arrived, he was denied access to the reception area until he paid Babita’s family; a fun tradition at most Indian weddings. Later on, he was also forced to bargain with the same girls in order to receive his shoes back, which had been taken from him at the gurdwara. As the day went on there was a plethora of choreographed dances performed by young kids, and even older women and men. The buffet of food went on forever, with a variety of food, drink, and dessert choices, and the dancing continued until the end of the reception.
When I first heard we would be going to a wedding at the Ashram I kept asking myself, “Why would someone want strangers at their wedding?” Now that we have been at the Ashram for a few days, that question has been answered. For the kids, and older boys and girls, at Sri Ram Ashram, we are not strangers. As soon as we met them we were no longer foreigners, we are long lost friends that are meeting again. The sense of love at the Ashram is something that I have never experienced before. Inviting us to come and play with them, teaching us their dance moves, and helping us get ready for the celebrations. It’s like before they even met us, it had already been decided that we would be friends.