by Kyle Morgan, Guest Writer
The highlight of my trip to India was being apart of the wedding of Dr. Megha & Dr. Madhukesh, Sunil’s sister-in-law and soon to be brother-in-law. When Sunil had first invited me to the wedding, I expected to be the outsider looking in, watching everything but not really participating in anything: how very wrong I was proven on that thought. I can’t recount how many people that I talked to over the course of the wedding festivities (a three day event by the way) and had conversations in broken English; how many photos were taken, and how many times I found myself explaining the differences between US and southern Indian weddings.
The family truly went above and beyond making me feel like a welcome and a part of the family, more so than I would have ever expected. The coo-de-ta of the trip to India is obviously the previously mentioned wedding. How often is one invited not only to an Indian wedding, but to be a part of the wedding party?
The wedding of Dr. Megha & Dr. Madhukesh included many poojas (pronounced poojah). These are religious ceremonies to various Gods, essentially celebrations with family and friends, a reception, and the wedding ceremony itself. I attempted to sit in the audience with some kids I had met before and who spoke English to allow the family personal space for the ceremony, but as soon as it started, I was readily brought onstage to be part of the wedding ceremony and witness the poojas that were taking place. This is something that I truly felt honored to be a part of.
It’s very hard to explain the feeling of how different it is to be the only foreigner at a southern Indian wedding where most of the people do not speak English, yet you are a part of the wedding party and expected to speak to everyone! The few words of Kannada that I had managed to pick up seemed very insufficient: hello, food, and coffee.
I mentioned before that I tried to sit in the audience to allow the bride and groom’s family privacy in the wedding ceremony. I once again returned to the audience but no sooner than I sat down next to the 360 degree view stage I was pulled back up and instructed how to participate in the binding ceremony. An Indian Wedding puts an American wedding to shame on so many levels! Not only are there more traditions than I can name, but the binding is for 7 lifetimes instead of our measly one! I was able to participate in multiple poojas, religious dedications to a myriad of different Gods, dedications, blessings, and finally the tying of the marriage knots between the bride and groom, signifying their commitment.
My friend Sunil was the keystone that made this once in a lifetime trip possible, without him, his knowledge, his family, his connections, I would have been yet another lost wandering ‘white guy’ looking for an adventure and ‘life changing’ experience in India that I probably would not have found. Instead, I was welcomed into an amazing family, experiencing home cooked meals, meeting family friends, running errands, helping with wedding preparations, and making lifelong friends. All in all getting that life changing experience in the true sense that I never would have been able to do without him. For that, I thoroughly thank Sunil and his family; I will never forget their generosity and welcoming spirit.
*All photos are courtesy of Kyle Morgan (MBA ’15, US)