Family, India, Wedding

Henna

The 18th evening we had a small and super informal Henna night at my grandparents flat. My mom, my aunts, my cousin and of course me all had our hands hennad, I actually even had henna on my feet too. This time almost every surface on my palms had henna and thankfully I didnt’ have to sleep in them.

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Henna on my palm and the back of my hand

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my mom getting henna done

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my mammoni shows off her henna

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My Tauma sings while we wait for our henna to dry

India, Travel, Wedding

A Mad Rush- The Beginning

All the photos on this post are from my friend BD. All my photos from the first few days were accidentally deleted. Thanks BD for coming through and letting me use your pics.

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Getting ready to try on Sarees at a Park street Saree Shop

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Right as we got to Kolkata, I had to scramble to ensure that I had everything I needed for my bridal trousseau. My mom and aunts had purchased most of the stuff but I still had to buy a few more sarees and get my blouses stitched and ensure that I had jewelry to go with all my outfits. 

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Birla Lakshmi Narayan Temple was on one of daily walking paths. The temple is made of a pale gray and white sandstone and marble.

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The first week, J, KD, BD and I stayed in a Bed and Breakfast flat or Guesthouse, as they are called in India. We had two rooms and use of the living room and dining room and a caretaker who made our breakfasts. We would wake up early in the morning and go on walks and try out different mishti shops (sweet shops) for breakfast. Haldirams, which is a major Indian food retailer had their store very close and we had breakfast there one morning.

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Delicious Mishti (sweets) displayed at Haldirams

India, Life, Travel, Wedding

A Late Start to 08

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photo by BD

Wow, who knew 3 weeks could fly by so quickly? It only seemed like it was a few days ago that I left for India and now I’m back in town and starting the first day of school.

There is so much to write and so many photos to post that I almost feel overwhelmed with where to start! J and I had a fantastic 3 weeks in Kolkata, India with our family and friends and we also had a wonderful traditional bengali wedding ceremony.

We arrived in Kolkata on the 17th and spent the next day and a half shopping and getting ready for the festivities ahead. On the 18th, we had a henna party at the grandparents flat, where all the women in the family had henna done on their hands. On the 19th, my family threw a cocktail/sangeet party and on the 21st we actually had our ceremony.  The 22nd afternoon we had a luncheon for Bou Bhaat and on the 23rd J and I threw a party  for our close family and friends as a gesture of thanks. Finally, all our wedding festivities were over!

The next week J and I spent a lot of time exploring Kolkata with KD and our friend BD and we also attended one of my cousin’s wedding.  We also took a day trip to the Kali temple at Dakhineshwar where J and I did a puja in our name and we also visited Belur Math on the banks of the river Ganga. After spending new years with my family J and I took a big group trip to Mandarmoni, a little beach town in West Bengal. It was a fantastic trip , although we were there for a very short time and after that it was only a matter of days before we were heading back home.

I have tried to bread the trip down into segments with photos. Its going to take me a few days to get everything sorted and posted but here’s a start!

India, Travel

Favorite Photos from 2005 India Trip- Kodakgallery Set

If you can’t see the photos, then please click on the kodakgallery link below to see them. 

Its the last day of classes and only 10 more days until I’m on a plane to India. To kill time in one of classes today (we were doing group presentations and my presentation is over) I was browsing through my kodakgallery album and came across my old India album. These photos have terrible resolution because Kodak gallery kills the online resolution, although I do love their prints. So, apologies for the quality.

My cousin ( the groom) getting splashed in water during one of the ceremonies
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The bride and groom see each other at the altar 
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Bride and groom make offerings to the fire
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Kolkata girls party it up 

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My nephews playing against the skyline 

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Detail of a early 20th Century Mansion in Kolkata 

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Rickshaw puller resting 

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Sweetmeat displayed in shop 

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2 little street performers in Delhi

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India, Travel

Kolkata Landmarks

 I am getting so excited for Kolkata that I thought I would post some famous sights of Kolkata. I did not take these pics, please see the next post for a few that I have taken.

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 Howrah Bridge on the Hoogly is probably the most iconic landmark of Kolkata, it connects the main city to the Howrah Railway Station, which is the equivalent of Grand Central in NY. Like London has the bridge on the Thames, and New York has the Brooklyn Bridge, Howrah Bridge has captured the imagination of the city and its visitors, making it a much beloved lifeline of the city. It is usually crowded, full of traffic, and sometimes takes a good 40 minutes to get across the river, but it is always bursting with life. Ever since I was a little girl and we would get down at Howrah Station, I looked forward to crossing that bridge. To me its a symbol of beginnngs and journeys and it always features prominently in my memories. Lately, since we fly into Kolkata, I rarely cross the bridge anymore, but this year I am determined to cross it at least once and relive the excitement.

This beautiful photo is from a Flickr set by MarkEveleigh

Victoria Memorial in the heart of Kolkata. This is a building that was dedicated to Queen Victoria, when she was declared queen of India, during the British Raj. Victoria Memorial is set in the Maidan or a planned huge greenspace in the middle of the city. It is sort of like Central Park and many events and fairs take place here. Its also  a great place for a stroll or some quiet time.

Photo- Google Images

Vidyasagar Setu or the second Howrah bridge was built in the 90’s to provide some relief to the Howrah Bridge. It is a very beautiful, modern bridge and worth driving along on. But it doesn’t quite hold the same appeal for me.

Photo- google images

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Writers Building is the main government seat of Kolkata. It is building that was originally constructed by the British in the 1700’s and has today become a symbol of Kolkata’s government. I love the bright red color of the building and the palm trees and statues around it.

Funny, India, Wedding

Kalyana Mandapa

Contemporary Indian Mandap

Traditional, permanent Temple mandap

Jewish Chuppah

I had to settle for a smaller version of this

I know, I know, I am full of posts this afternoon. Something about a friday afternoon and caffeine overload will make me spew forth words. I am really excited today, after looking at Diamond Rental, Modern Display and Ambience rental , I finally found something that I can use as a Mandap (pron:maan-dup). There is a lady in Utah County who has a teeny tiny wedding decor business who agreed to lend me her “canopy.” I think my conversation with her was kinda funny:

Me: Hi, I was interested in renting your little canopy

Lady: We don’t have a little canopy, our standard one costs $1000

Me: No, you do have one, its on page 5 of your gallery

Lady: Let me look, No kidding I guess we do. I wouldn’t call it a canopy though, its a gazebo.

Me: Oh, either way, I’d like to rent it, how much would it be

Lady: Nobody has ever wanted to rent it, I don’t think I have ever had to price it before.

Me: Well…I ‘d really like to….

Lady: Let me call my husband and get back to you. I guess next time someone asks about that I’ll know I have it.

In the end, she and her husband are letting us have it for a very reasonable rate and I couldn’t be happier.

So, why am I making such a big deal about a canopy? Because in Hindu traditions it is essential to have the ceremony under a covered ground. The symbolism for the covered ground, usually by a 4 posts a cloth or flower cover is usually similar to that of a Jewish Chuppah. It symbolizes the beginning of the couple’s new home and the idea of marriage as being a shelter. In the old temples of India, there would be a permanent stone structure that would be set aside for weddings and they were called Kalyana Mandapas, nowadays though we often build temporary structure with bamboo and flowers. Having this symbolism was very important to me and I had to look really hard to find something that I could modify and use.

* I did not take these pics

India, Wedding

La Belle

Whew! The wedding venue in India is finally booked and reserved. We are getting married in a old bungalow. The bungalow is called La Belle and has a nice big lawn so that we can have an outdoor reception and ceremony. Since I haven’t seen the place in person, I only have some generic pics of the place , when they were decorated for other weddings.

India, Wedding

Anxiety

I guess more and more people are telling J and I that they are excited about the wedding in India! This is great news on one hand,  but on the other it is sending my anxieties levels into space! Its hard coordinationg lodging and entertainment for a lot of people from halfway around the world. Also, I am nervous to go ahead and plan too much or book too many rooms because India is not a small endeavor and my guess is most people will back out at the last minute. Anyway, I am going to stress about it more this weekend I guess.

In other news, my parents are coming out for a visit next week which should be a lot of fun. Its going to suck that I can’t take time off work then, because my new position kicks in exactly that week 😦  but i’m sure we’ll survive. However, to prepare for that week of fun, J and I need to bust our ass this weekend.  List of stuff to do :

1) Make sure our apartment is sparkling clean

2) Buy a sidetable to replace our crappy one

3) Buy a lamp to go on new side table

4) Do laundry and keep the bedroom spotless till the fam arrives

5) Make layla calm down

6) Plan menus for the 6 days they’ll be here

7) Plan activities

8) Get Car registered ….grrrrr

So, I’m not really looking forward to this weekend as much, but after last weekends incredibly eventful activities, it will be nice to be mellow and chill.