Bollywed Part One

Ok, it’s been more than a couple of weeks, but I was speaking figuratively and not literally about this next post. The subject was supposed to be Indian weddings. And Indian weddings is why it’s been more than a couple of weeks since my last post. I was, of course, editing an Indian wedding. Editing an Indian wedding using Final Cut Pro X, no less. I decided to try to learn FCPX by cutting an entire wedding from the preliminary ceremonies to the last dance. It was not to be however, as after a week and a half, I went back to FCP7. It’s hard to be creative when you’re frustrated beyond belief at an application, the developers, and the sellers of the application. But this post is not about FCPX, it’s about editing Indian weddings. And it’s going to be a two-parter since I first need to explain just what can potentially go into the Indian wedding.

As I mentioned in my last post, Indian weddings are some of the most colorful, creative, celebratory, emotional, and exciting events one can attend. Some go for as many as five days. It often starts with a mehndi, which is when the bride has her feet and hands painted with henna in intricate designs which may contain images special to the bride – a sitar to symbolize her musician husband to be, or a drawing of the couple, the groom in one palm and the bride in the other, all surrounded by intricate floral and fertility designs. While this artistry is going on, songs are sung by friends and family who may also dance along to the music. As with many festivities, there is lots of food and people basically party while the bride is getting her henna applied. Other women – the sister, mom, or bridesmaids, may also get the mehndi. The men aren’t left out either. Some of them get painted also.

The mehndi is just one of the many ceremonies that can take place before the actual wedding. I’ve searched the web to see just what exactly is going on, but there are so many ceremonies that can take place and not being Indian, I don’t understand the lingo in the descriptions. Some weddings combine ceremonies and I think different provinces have different names for the same thing. There are a few that are pretty consistent though. The mehndi, as mentioned earlier, the sangeet, which is a fun-filled evening of performing, eating, and, you guessed it, partying, the baraat which is when the groom and his family go to meet the brides family. Oh wait, it’s not that simple. You see the baraat is more than the groom simply going to meet the bride. The groom in most of the weddings I’ve edited, arrives on a white horse, among relatives dancing and celebrating to the sound of a drum, tambourine, or other instruments, or all of the above. It’s a procession that can wind through suburban neighborhoods or down the city streets of San Francisco. Once they meet up with the brides family, both families dance together. The groom can be lifted onto the shoulders of his groomsmen while they dance and if he’s not careful, someone might steal his shoes.

The baraat is often followed by a blessing from a priest and then a garland exchange. The two families exchange garland wreaths, one pair at a time – the uncle from one family to the uncle from the other. During the garland exchange the men try to outwit each other in order to be the first to pick the other up. Friends and wedding guests are encouraged to participate. You can imagine however, that the women do not participate in the game since they are usually dressed in beautiful sarees. The garland exchange is then often followed by the welcoming of the groom by the mother of the bride, which is presided over by a priest.

After all the partying and processions finally comes the wedding. Hindu, which is what I like to edit, or Sikh. The Sikh ceremony is very devout. No humor, lots of bowing and chanting and it takes a long time. The Hindu is more relaxed. There is plenty of chanting, but the priest also jokes with the couple and their families while directing the service and giving marital advice. After the ceremony, the newlyweds may depart to the home of either the parents of the bride or groom for more games, blessings and food. What starts off as a light-hearted pleasant get together however, often turns somber as the bride bids a final farewell to her parents and family and starts her new life as a wife.

With the wedding day so full of activity, the reception is often left to the next day. I mean the bride arises early in the morning for makeup and she has to be helped into the bangles, head pendant, nose stud, toe rings, and saree that makeup her wedding outfit. She may have been partying the night before at the sangeet and the rest of the day is full of ceremony, emotion, and fanfare. It’s completely understandable that some postpone the reception until the next day. The reception is the culmination of what could be days of rituals, ceremonies and games, but it doesn’t slow anybody down. Speeches are given, there may be dances or skits performed and there is more eating, drinking and partying.

As you can see, a lot goes into these weddings. And this is something that needs to be understood before going onto part two, the edit. All of this needs to be captured and edited and not just in a three to seven minute highlights video, but what can often end up a two to three hour documentary… also.

Wow, over nine hundred words. I can’t believe I did this voluntarily. Stay tuned for part two.

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