A Wedding for Seven Lifetimes

Our Wedding Rings

Our Wedding Rings

August 9th, 2009.

A date I’ll never forget and I’m truly horrible with dates.

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of a winter wedding with a big white princess dress and attendants in royal purple flowing chiffon dresses.  The guys would all look like Fred Astaire, Ray Milan and Gary Cooper.  I would dye my auburn hair to be even deeper and redder and I would have it styled just like Grace Kelly or Ginger Rogers.  And we would float across the dance floor after we were married.

My wedding was so much better than the dreamed up childhood one!

Instead I was a summer bride dressed all in red with gold and pearl stitching.  I was covered in jewelry from head to foot (literally).  My hands and feet were stained deep red instead of my hair and my Prince Charming was splendid in creamy white cotton with gold and red stitching to match my perfect wedding sari.  My attendants were dressed in gorgeous teals and pinks and earthy browns.  And we floated across the floor to welcome people and talk to them.

There were so many things that happened and so many wonderful memories that they are still all jumbled up in my brain and hard to fasten on any particular one.

I’m still amazed that I’m a WIFE!  A wife to a perfect Husband!  To my Bear!

There were so many times that I thought this day would never come, so many days that I sat and fretted about what would happen, if people would accept us, if everything would go smoothly.

And all that fretting was all for naught.  I’ve never felt more loved and accepted and happy!

All those things we read and hear about, all those little cares and worries we let take over our lives and stress out to the breaking point…once you get past them; they are like misty things that no longer touch our heart and minds.  I sit here today, wondering what all the fuss was about.  I did it!  I made it happen!  I had the perfect man to help me.  The perfect families to guide, love and support me.  The perfect friends to cheer me on and give me advice.  And yet I still sat and fretted and worried myself into migraines and upset stomachs!

And every Bride does to some extent.

I feel the worst for my family who, after flying in, had to run around to help me finish last minute things and when I say “last minute”, I mean it.  My brother and his lovely girlfriend were in charge of arranging the hall seating and table arrangements for us before the decorator got there.  Simple yes?  No, no, no, no.  The hall was filthy when they got there.  They had to scramble to find cleaning products and clean…the…entire….hall!  All by themselves!  But they did it and it turned out gorgeous.  More than I could have dreamed of, but then again, my brother is the most talented in the family.  Everyone else had it relatively easy except for our friends who had to pick up the cake and couldn’t find the store!  There was also a small fire over by the caterer’s section but they put it out fairly quickly and with only a few people noticing.  Most everyone else thought we were having BBQ!  😉  Indoors???  I ask you!

I’m still running around, busy with after marriage stuff.  Getting the license and contacting the Indian Embassy for help with my Visa selection…but things are starting to wind down, calm down a bit.

Once that happens, I will write a proper blog and fill you in on every step and every joy and every hard thing we had to face.

Till then, take care of yourself and keep checking back!!!

Preparing for the Seven Steps

Preparing for the Seven Steps

Wedding Madness!

clockSo I have like….what?  Three days left?  Counting today?  To get stuff done?  Not even that actually as I can’t really do anything on Saturday because that’s when everyone is getting together for our Haldi/Mehndi ceremony dinner thingee.

Baprey.  (Meaning “Oh God…help me”)

I’m so tired I can barely stand, but I have a few hours this morning to rest so here I am, not resting.  My mind is going a million miles a minute.  So I figured that I would sit down and write to all of you about what’s been going on.

Sidenote: I sat here for a full five minutes with this blank stare on my face trying to remember what all I’ve done since last time I wrote.  There’s so much I think I overloaded my brain for a few minutes.  Reboot was required.  System crash.  Full restore in progress.  Restart in 5…4…3…2…

1)      Last Thursday I went with my friend S to pick up my Wedding Sari and Top from the tailor.  The work she did was absolutely stunning and I couldn’t have asked for better work to be done.  It was at Poshaak in Artesia.  If you’ve ever in town, stop by there.  They are kind and carry excellent quality clothes.  Little expensive, but if you have the money, definitely the better purchase.

2)      Friday I ran a bunch of errands, including paying for the Decorator.  She usually only does weddings that are $25,000 and above but she liked Bear and I so much that she is decorating on a small scale for us for around $1000.  Check out their site here.  They are called Ethnic Essence and their decorating skills for Indian Weddings are AMAZING.

3)      Saturday and Sunday Bear and I ran around trying to take care of a million things at once.  We bought his shoes (see below) and picked up a few things that the Pundit asked us to gather for the wedding, like the Sindoor (this is red powder like substance that Bear puts in the part of my hair to signify that I am a married woman).  I still have more that I need to get, like the Paan leaves, puffed flattened rice, small red dupatta (to tie me to his dupatta, it is done right before we take our walk 7 times around the fire…it signifies that we are together in all things), a coconut and a few other things (there is a nut that we have to get too but darned if I remember it’s name without going and looking at the paperwork and I’m too tired to get up).   Also, my friend S took me to buy things for my hair…decorative pins and the like.  Bear and I also were up till 2:30 in the morning cleaning his apartment and throwing away things left behind by other contractors who once stayed here.

Indian Shoes

4)      Monday I don’t remember what I did.  Oh wait, yes I do.  I ran my butt off finishing the cleaning of this apartment.  Going grocery shopping.

5)      Tuesday morning I went to the airport to pick up my Brother and his Fiancé.  I took them to a rental car place which was in the most inconvenient area imaginable.  Then we drove back to Bear’s apartment so they could take a nap before driving up to San Fran to visit some friends.  I continued to clean the apartment, and then woke them up.  Then I got cleaned up and ran to the airport again to pick up my Father, Stepmom, and Aunty.  Brought them back to Bear’s apartment and Bear and I cooked dinner for them (Opo and Aloo subji) and then I drove them to my sister-in-laws house where they spent the night (got back to Bear’s house around 10:30 and passed out).

6)      Got up at the ungodly hour of 6:30 in the morning to drive my Dad and Stepmom to the rental car agency to pick up their car.  Got a call from my brother in San Fran that his rental car had broken down.  Started pulling out my hair and noticed that it was turning silver (at least it’s better than white or grey).   I stopped and picked up Darkest Brown hair color to fix that.  Afterwards, stopped at the Bakery to order the 60 plus cupcakes in our wedding colors.  Half of them are chocolate with cream colored cream frosting and little red roses on top.  Other half is vanilla with red icing and little cream colored cream frosting roses on the top.  The Bride and Groom cake is still the Mango flavored angel food cake with fresh Mango’s and Strawberries inside.

7)      The rest of Tuesday I rested man.

8)      Wednesday was my Dad’s birthday, so we all went out to lunch at Lucille’s.  We had them sing and bring Dad a birthday treat.  Also, here (yesterday – Wednesday) it was Raksha Bandhan.  This is a holiday in India where a girl gives a boy (usually brother and sister, but also cousin’s and good friends) a Rakhi.  A Rakhi is a bracelet made from colored string and beads and other things that the girl then ties to the boys right wrist.  A small puja is performed and the girl and boy feed each other sweets.  Then the boy gifts something to the girl.  He also must protect her for the rest of her life.  My friend S’s husband is my Babba (father in Hindi because he bosses me so much so I nicknamed him this to antagonize him) but mainly he is like my brother.  I care for them all very much.  So I gifted the Rakhi to Babba again this year, as I did last year.  S helped me with the Puja so this time it was done properly.  Babba seemed to enjoy it very much.  Then I came back and colored my hair.  It is now almost black with red highlights.  Very pretty but much darker than I thought.  Bear LOVES it.

9)      This morning, I slept in.

10)   This afternoon I go with S to get the food we need for Saturday night’s Haldi/Mehndi party.  Haldi is thisMehndi is this.  S will be cooking up a storm for that night and we will have about 20 people there.  There will be Mehndi music and dancing and family and food and so much fun!  And I have to sit for MOST of it!!!  Siiiiiiiiigh.  Oh well, I’ll just make Bear bring me food and drink!  LOL

11)   Friday Bear has off from work and we are going to Artesia AGAIN to get the final list of items from the Pundit (see above #3) and to give information for the Bride and Groom cake to be picked up on Saturday late afternoon.  We also are picking up fake flower decorations for the Mustang that my dad is getting to take Bear and his brother to the wedding in.  Fake because it’s cheaper and they will be on the freeway and real flowers won’t stand up to my Dad’s method of driving.  LOL I’m also going to get my pedicure and manicure done.    We then will go to my apartment to get the rest of the things that I have kept there.  My Manglasutra, his Sherwani, the Wedding jewelry (necklace, tikha, ankle trinkets, my shoes and a few other things).  Then we will go to Costco for the plates and napkins and glasses as we are cutting costs by providing disposable utensils instead of having the caterer cart his things there.  That would be more expensive and he is trying to help us cut costs.  We also have to stop and buy my makeup for that day as I need something that won’t wear off from the heat of the fire of my own crying (and I know I’m gonna…I’m getting all emotional now thinking about it).

12)   Saturday I’m doing NOTHING and this is where my friends and family take over.  They will do all the food and ceremony preparation.  I’m just gonna sit there and do nothing…for ONCE!  Hehe  Except eat.  I’ll eat.  J

13)   Sunday I’m getting Married!!!!!

Well, I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading my to-do list because that’s what this really is.  I knew I was going to forget something, so I figured why not turn it into a post so you can see what I’m up to and I can remind myself what still is left to do.

I’m including a video from one of my favorite East meets West movies.  I just like the fact that Sayeed from Lost is in that movie and I get to see him dancing in a Sherwani.  J  Plus it’s a fun song and we will probably play it Saturday night.

Till then, I probably will be going nuts.  So take care and I’ll write sometime next week!  Much love to all!  Have a fabulous Weekend!

Intercultural Marriages…some challenges faced.

Hindu Wedding

Hindu Wedding

Note: I am attempting to talk Bear into wearing that nifty wedding hat thingee that has a cool fan like thing of cloth at the top but he is steadfastly refusing.  He’s a pooterhead.  That’s ok though, I have found a way around it.  I’ll just have my Dad gift it to him.  🙂 Muahahaha.

While we haven’t officially announced the official engagement yet, (or wedding for that matter) I am a consummate researcher and prefer to study something to death rather than not know anything.

It was because of my previous studies, even before Bear and I became serious, that when we did become serious I was more prepared to make hard line decisions.  Mainly because I had already researched them, thought them out and made decisions on them….you know just in case.

Eh-hem not like I thought he was eventually going to cave in and propose or anything.

Moving along….  🙂

So, where was I?  Oh yes…when Bear and I became serious I had a decision to make about our future on more levels than just one.

Life Decisions

Bear’s culture, history and religion are very important to him.  He’s very open minded and accepting, however there are some things that he wants out of life and I can’t blame him because I have similar wants and needs.

Like, I wanted to continue to celebrate my American/Christian traditions.  Trees with lights and decorations at Christmas.  Painted eggs and gum hanging at Easter (Thanks to Leese for pointing to me that this sounds scary and nobody ‘get’s it’.  My grandfather started this tradition when I was a kid…he would do all the normal stuff, hide eggs and baskets…but he would also tie packets of juicy fruit to the tree outside and one always had money as a wrapper so we called it gum hanging.).  Observance of Thanksgiving…even though I am a veg eater now and can’t stand that nasty evil vile disgusting totally gags me with a spoon Tofurkey.

It was important that future children learned both my heritage and his.  I wanted them to have the same opportunity I had, to make a choice in my religious life.  To have the opportunities to learn anything I wanted (as long as it wasn’t a cult…that included anything that Tom Cruise belonged to—darn it).

Fortunately, Bear and I found that we had the same ideas and beliefs with regards to all the essentials, all of the things that were important and ‘deal breaker’ rules in our lives.

That’s not to say that we haven’t run across our own little snags along the way.  Two stand out in my mind the most.  My first name and the Manglasutra(s).

My First Name

Recently, a post on Gorigirl.com Forums ( Your Indian Name? ), someone brought up the topic of the Indian MIL and FIL wanting the new bride to take on a new first name.  Yep, you read that right…apparently in some families (especially in Maharashta) the bride is given a new first name by her husband and/or In-Laws.  I brought this topic up with Bear and he said that his brother’s wife did do this…however his mother did not so it is not necessarily a family tradition.  But he liked the idea very much.  I remember I had asked him to tell me what name he would give me, but it was only so that I could know….you know?  It was such a new concept, that thinking about that topic was odd enough, thinking about how some girls go by a different name entirely after their marriage?  HUH?

So Bear told me the name he would like to give me.  Anjali.

Beautiful name isn’t it?  Yes it is.  And it fits me as well.  But my name is the name my Daddy chose for me and I’m a tad bit attached to it.  So, I told Bear that while I love the name he would give me, I didn’t think I could do that.  And I really did think about it for some time, Played with it.  Toyed around with the idea.  But no matter what I did I would always be “Aurora” to my friends and family…why confuse them more than their poor brains can handle?  Hehehe Seriously, Also, I already had enough to adjust to, I didn’t think I could handle remembering to listen for “Anjali” being called over “Aurora”.

This hurt Bear a little bit.  I hadn’t worded my request for the information properly, and (communication is the key people) he misunderstood and thought I wanted the name because I planned on changing my name!  So he was hurt and a little sad to learn that I didn’t have any plans to do that at all.  This created tension for me, because I knew I had hurt him and I knew I couldn’t give him what he would like to have.  AND that I had led him to believe for a short while that he would get it.  Without knowing I was doing it…but still…that’s what happened.

Now everything is ok.  Like Bear says “What’s in a name?  Anyway, you were Aurora when I fell in love with you…so why would I want to name my love something else?”

Manglasutra

Bear and I had many conversations about what exactly we planned on getting for the wedding.  We had already discussed that it would be cheaper for him to get my wedding Sari there in India than it would be to buy it here (US).  This included his Sherwani, shoes and a few other items.  The items we would probably buy here would be the gold wedding bands and the Manglasutra.  Bear wanted to be able to purchase both for me, the daily wear Manglasutra and the big huge bawdy gold one that is for the wedding and special occasions only.

Right now the cost of Gold per ounce in the US is $962.  (Current Gold Prices)

However, Bear wanted me to double check for the Manglasutra here.  I assumed it was for price and style.  And in some ways I was right.  I thought he was looking to conserve money…remember here in the US, while guys will buy their girls jewelry they pride themselves on getting a good deal even if that means letting go of some quality (not all but some).  So I was not entirely used to just how important and special the Manglasutra was.  I started thinking he was attempting to save us some money, seeing as how things are a little tight right now.  So there was some discussion about not even getting the wedding version now.  Also, I sent him pictures of the one’s that I found here and liked.  I liked them because of the style of the pendants; however he was looking at the entire Manglasutra (including the beads and the amount of gold on the strand).  He expressed some concern on the amount of gold and I assumed that he meant the pendant because that’s the only thing I was really looking at when I looked at the Manglasutra…I figured a strand of black and gold beads is just like any other.  This lead to hurt feels on my side because I had picked out excessively small pendants.  However, the strands had more gold than black beads (which, in my defense I wasn’t looking at).  So when Bear brought up the fact that there was too much gold, I thought he meant the pendant and began the downward depressive cycle of “this sucks” and then started the girl martyrdom of “we’ll just get a plain black bead strand with no pendant…those are cheaper”.

Note: SEE???  See how important communication is here people?

He finally understood what the problem was and was able to correct me.  His fear was that I would have to wear that gold laden Manglasutra in India and he knew his country.  I would be a white woman….already enough to draw attention to every beggar and pick-pocket within 5 miles…but if I also had a daily Manglasutra with too much gold on the strand?  On the highly visible strand?  Well…that would be like a putting a bowl of candies in front of a five year old and telling him “No”.

Essentially…Uh huh.  Whatever.  MINE MINE MINE.

Back to the story line, I had gotten emotional and all assumey and it caused little problems between us.  Which we got resolved mainly because Bear is the most insightful and psychic human being I know.

Either that or he just knows me eerily well.

I like to pretend I’m somewhat mysterious so it works out better if he’s psychic.

Plus this is my blog and if I want him to be all cool with psychic powers and superhuman strength than I can.

So there…NEENER NEENER.  😛  LOL

The Marriage!

YAY!  This was probably the easiest choice I’ve ever had to make…and also the hardest.  I spent a good part of my childhood dreaming about my own wedding and planning it out.  Most girls have.

I spent months trying to decide how to incorporate a western Christian wedding with an eastern Hindu ceremony.  I found a few sites that offered some really excellent ideas…but I don’t know.  Something just didn’t feel right anymore.

And I realized one night what it was.  It was after watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I was contemplating on the difference between Buffy and Angel relationship and Buffy and Spike….

NoteFor a while I was a firm supporter of Buffy and Angel, but later I realized that Spike really worked his butt off to get a soul and make Buffy happy.  Relationships do not always work just because they were fated too…sometimes even soul mates have to work at it.  See?  BTVS really CAN be converted to solve any of life’s little problems!!!  Plus…Buffy just rules.  Also, I like it when Spike calls Angel a namby pamby nancy boy.  Funny!

Oh…right…back to the blog.

……and then it hit me.  I wasn’t happy with my old ideas of a western wedding because in those little day dreams I had always been marrying some non-descriptive boy.  In real life, I was marrying Bear, who was full of life and spice and was helping me make changes in my life and I in his.  We weren’t traditional in the non-traditional sense.  We were starting our own traditions while enjoying and still practicing some of the old ones.

So, I decided that I would prefer to have the traditional Hindu wedding…only.  And to have a western reception and style of wedding ceremony first, reception next, entire shin-dig a few hours…and then DONE.

So that is what we are doing, we are having the traditional Hindu Ceremony with a few changes.  My Brother will bring me in instead of an Uncle because I don’t have one.  My father will still give me away to Bear…even though he swears he’s going to do it while begging Bear to “Take my Daughter…PLEASE!”

Below, I’ve included what each ceremony is called and a small description of it.  Most likely our wedding will be held at Arya Samaj temple in Anaheim and the wedding ceremony’s that they perform tend to be a little less dramatic with KHUP less of rituals to be performed.  Arya Samaj Wedding Ceremony

While various regional steps are followed by different sects of Hindus across India, the following 13 steps form the core of a Vedic wedding ceremony:

  • Vara SatkaarahReception of the bridegroom and his kinsmen at the entrance gate of the wedding hall where the officiating priest chants a few mantras and the bride’s mother blesses the groom with rice and trefoil and applies tilak of vermilion and turmeric powder.
  • Madhuparka Ceremony – Reception of the bridegroom at the altar and bestowing of presents by the bride’s father.
  • Kanya Dan – The bride’s father gives away his daughter to the groom amidst the chanting of sacred mantras.
  • Vivah-Homa – The sacred fire ceremony ascertaining that all auspicious undertakings are begun in an atmosphere of purity and spirituality.
  • Pani-Grahan – The groom takes the right hand of the bride in his left hand and accepts her as his lawfully wedded wife.
  • Pratigna-Karan – The couple walk round the fire, the bride leading, and take solemn vows of loyalty, steadfast love and life-long fidelity to each other.
  • Shila Arohan – The mother of the bride assists her to step onto a stone slab and counsels her to prepare herself for a new life.
  • Laja-Homah – Puffed rice offered as oblations into the sacred fire by the bride while keeping the palms of her hands over those of the groom.
  • Parikrama or Pradakshina or Mangal Fera – The couple circles the sacred fire seven times. This aspect of the ceremony legalizes the marriage according to the Hindu Marriage Act as well custom.
  • Saptapadi – Marriage knot symbolized by tying one end of the groom’s scarf with the bride’s dress. Then they take seven steps representing nourishment, strength, prosperity, happiness, progeny, long life and harmony and understanding, respectively.
  • Abhishek – Sprinkling of water, meditating on the sun and the pole star.
  • Anna Praashan – The couple make food offerings into the fire then feed a morsel of food to each other expressing mutual love and affection.
  • Aashirvadah – Benediction by the elders.