Going East, Wedding Traditions & Dancing Nights
Trip Start Sep 30, 2011
21Trip End Ongoing
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Van parked up again, time to jump in the bus and go back to India…North East India to be more precise. After a simple border crossing and a long 2-day journey I arrive in Guwahati to meet up with Nama's cousin Pipi. Together we travel in the wedding present (a car) into Arunachal, Naharlagun to attend Nama & Neywin’s wedding, meeting up with Lulu as well. The wedding venue takes 4 days in total, full of fun, dressing up, drinking rice wine and dancing….lots of dancing! A wedding never to forget, for them and for us! Then time to say goodbyes….on my way again with Lulu… to Manipur, Imphal, to her parental house, to start new wedding preparations for her and Bob! Wedding bells all around!
Leaving Sini’s house in a rush as my friend Naba calls me to tell me the bus is leaving EARLY! Unbelievable. And of course I end up sitting at the bus stand with lots of time for tsia ghana (tea
Last veg momo’s for lunch, collecting my exit stamp at Nepali Immigrations and crossing the symbolic bridge to India to say I’m back. All quick and easy. A local bus, cycle rickshaw and sleeper train bring me to Guwahati, where Pipi wakes up really early to pick me from the train station! Today we shall travel together to Naharlagun, Arunachal state, to attend Nama & Neywin’s wedding. Travelling by car, which we pick up later that morning…from the showroom! Turns out we are going there in their wedding present: A brand new Ford Fiesta. Unreal.
Completely exhausted but happy we get there, reunited with Nama and Lulu again. This will be the start of 5 intense, crazy wedding days….full of dancing! The first night only food though and saying
Wedding day 1: Breakfast is made for us, enjoying it on the roof terrace in the sun…then to Nama’s parental house for lunch and dress-up round 1….wearing local wrap-arounds. Today several traditional ceremonies will take place from Nama’s family side. The decorating of the venue place is still ongoing. Lots of things to be done for the big number of people coming today and tomorrow: The mithun is hacked into pieces and prepared on the fire, women busy in the temp kitchen making rice packets and the rice wine is slowly fermenting while dripping down. We have our first taste…the sweet poison. Later we will know why it’s called like that ;-)
All dressed up we are waiting for the groom’s family to arrive. Neywin receives special Christian blessings before entering the venue. Everybody is served some of the sacrificed mithun and rice wine in bamboo cups. Then the traditional family-introduction-ceremony takes place, followed by a group dance and singing… family members giving their best. They repeatedly ask me to present a Dutch song as well, but luckily I can prevent this somehow. After dinner the groom’s family goes home and
Wedding Day 2: After a relaxed morning it is time to go to meet up again at the house for dress-up round 2. Dress code: this time party dress (yet decent cut). For the occasion I even let Lulu put nail polish and Brigitte is doing my make-up…turning me into a lady…with dreads. Busy busy in Nama’s bedroom, us all getting ready to join the reception/party event. At first Nama and Neywin sit on stage welcoming all guests, receiving gifts and taking photos…while we try out the rice wine. Halfway during the evening the dancing starts, unexpected singing performances, even a classical Indian music piece (which I like a lot). More and more rice wine is consumed, more and more dancing takes place…some food in between, more rice wine. A little girl finds me and stays my dance partner for the bigger part of the evening, so sweet. Unfortunately also the enthusiastic Auntie keeps dragging me on the dance floor for some interesting hip moves! Cannot really put in words how much fun we had, nor can the photos… I saw my bed after 03.00AM being one of the last persons on the dance floor, Lulu and other gone home already, the sweet poison had kicked in and let’s say William had to rescue and guide a few to the bathroom ;-)
Wedding Day 3: The morning after….we get a call to come to the house again for the leaving-
At Nama’s house the community elders are gathered with the Uncles to give the couple matrimonial advice. Also this is the moment when Nama is officially leaving her parental home, moving in with her inlaws. She will not be allowed to visit her parents (at home) for a month. Of course this is all very emotional and soon the tears come. I barely keep it dry. All the gifts are loaded on trucks…time to go…
We go with several cars full of family and friends to guide her to her new home. As Neywin’s family is Buddhist they have their own traditions. One of them is that she should arrive and enter the house at exactly 12.55PM. As we are early, all of us are parked at the side of the road for about an hour, in which I take a needed nap! When we arrive her new family is waiting for her. Before entering the house Nama receives special Buddhist blessings, also she has to step with her right foot on an axe, take some rice and a coin. Once inside she had to change into different cloths. The Buddhist ceremony, one of Neywin’s family traditions will now take place. 6 monks are waiting for them to give their blessing. I love the whole ceremony even though I cannot understand a thing. The chanting is beautiful. They receive special rope, tied around their wrist and also matrimonial advice. The whole ceremony takes some hours but I am happy to be part of it, luckily feeling a bit better by now. After lunch we go back to our temp home to see how the girls are doing! And tell stories about last night, William being
That evening we all go back to Neywin’s house for a casual get-together…no alcohol this evening, so we say… Going home early….so we say….The good thing about a wedding which lasts for longer than a day is that you really can get a connection with the other guests…time to talk, laugh and dance. Sima choosing me to be her dance partner that night ;-) One last song, only one more haha Inside the disco-party crowd is going wild, while outside me and others are enjoying the guitar & djembe tunes and some good singing! Not by me ;-) Another great night!
Wedding Day 4: Last and final day of this crazy beautiful wedding… After a lazy morning…it is time to go and meet up with Nama again for dress-up round 4, this time Thai style party dress for her, me wearing the same thing like before, not having much to choose from in my backpack. Tonight will be the second reception/party for (other) guests. All of us getting ready once more. Also tonight the
After little sleep it is time for a great motorbike ride home, chai pio and quick bag packing…the car is ready to take us back to Guwahati, where Lulu and I are put up in a hotel for the night until our flight the next day. Nama has booked the hotel room for us and even paid for my flight (as she didn’t want me to go by bus)!! Me and Lulu, being super tired, even order food to the room, taking it very easy and