I confess: I’m a party crasher from way back. Unlikely, but true. Some of the most fun I’ve ever had has been at parties to which I was not invited, knew no one, and could melt away when I’d had enough.

Part of our group checked into a hotel in Udaipur only to learn that there was a massive renovation going on--round the clock construction in preparation for a princess’ wedding in March. We seem to have arrived in India in the middle of the most propitious time for weddings; they’ve been going on nightly, with much raucous dancing and singing and drumming and parading. 

Every time the brass bands start up, someone in our group groans in anticipation of another sleepless night. Weddings parties seem to last all night--or so it seems when you’re trying to doze off and the fireworks are going off right outside your window. But it all looks so wildly jubilant. The brides and grooms bejeweled (real or costume) in richly hued clothes, riding in on horseback.

Coming back from dinner our first night in Udaipur, we were not surprised to hear an intense commotion--music, fireworks booming, lights flashing through the sky. Another wedding. A couple of us took a detour and found ourselves in the middle of the flashiest wedding I’ve ever seen. No bouncers, amazingly. No security, in spite of the ropes of diamonds and pearls and rubies and emeralds. We strolled in nonchalantly, looking totally out of place, got a few curious looks, some smiles, but no matter.

What a celebration. Against the backdrop of the splendid City Palace was a lasery light show, paisleys and dots and stripes projected up on the crenellated walls. A huge stage had been set up for a band. Flames shot up in front of the stage, and confetti exploded overhead and showered down on us. Very Bollywood.  All the guests were encrusted with incredible, glittering jewels; most women wore heavy, beautifully draped saris, though I noticed that they seemed to be having some trouble moving in all their finery. Beauty has its costs. We had no such inhibitions.

The crowd went screamingly wild when someone who was clearly a celebrity made her entrance--I didn’t catch her name*, but she had been an MTV announcer and was now a movie star. She was a terrific dancer, every spangle on her body glittered; the crowd was shouting,  children were goggle-eyed, and the men (in an unusual departure from what we’re used to) were really rocking out. Alone.

*I now know her name: Malaika Arora Kahn.

The bride and groom took the stage--resplendent in silvery burgundy fabrics, the star strutted and thrusted around them, the groom looked thrilled, the bride looked a bit shy, but game--though I don’t think she was ready to unleash the hip action being displayed by the dancer. The groom’s father jumped up on stage, and he let it rip, and the crowd went wild.

Our little band of crashers danced until we were ready to collapse, and then collapsed into bed. I was only sorry that my sister missed it (she was staying in another part of town), as she's a world class rocker, and it would have been a fun way to usher in her birthday--but Happy Birthday Nicole! 


Anonymous said...

Indian weddings.....nothing else like them......at any caste level: )

JudyMac said...

India must be the most colorful country on the planet, particularly the clothes--just yummy to look at in every way! Your photos are breathtaking!

Cristina said...

...gosh, I'd missed this one!
I almost could smell fireworks, blink at all the shine & sparkles, smile along with this happy crowd and... ...dance 'till I dropped!
so good for us you're such a lively, curious lady (beside a great photographer and an incredible story teller).

Anonymous said...

The actress/dancer in the picture is Malaika Arora Khan.

Great pictures. I'm really enjoying reading your posts. Despite living in India for 12 years, i never made it to an Indian wedding; it is now one of my things to-do in life.

Anita Singh Soin said...

This girl is Malaika Arora Khan, a Hindu girl married to a Muslim - showing India's secularism in the best way...

Anonymous said...

I love traveling with you through these posts. You're absolutely the best partner!!!!

Do it again!


Warren said...

Who woulda thunk it?! Dominique - a rule breaker?! But your photos really capture the joy of the moment! And we all need a little more of that. BUT what camera do you use? You do a great job in demanding conditions?! Even as you are clearly dancing.

Ralph R. Joly said...

Your site is gorgeous, aesthetically pleasing and always informative, the photographs among the best I've seen anywhere. As an English prof, I have one question, however.
You employ "grey"rather than "gray." That doesn't reflect American usage and seems affected.