Mona says

08/17/05 – Saanchak

The saanchak is a little ceremony where first the groom’s family troops over to the bride’s home and give her gifts that she will wear on the wedding day, the reception or after that. Later that night, the bride’s family does the same.

The morning of the saanchak was nothing out of the ordinary. I hadn’t washed off the henna applied the night before and so all my efforts were spent in making sure I didn’t ruin it. That it would stay as long as possible to produce a dark color. I had people visiting all day, relatives and friends. I tried to get as much rest as I could, not having slept or eaten very well that last four or five days. I knew that the next day was probably going to be the longest, most tiring day I had ever had.

The kids were all uber hyper – this was the first wedding that would experience up so close and each had their ideas on what I should do, wear and how I ought to behave. I spent some extremely entertaining hours, amazed at the capacity of young imagination. This was also the first time that someone they knew very well was going to *turn into* a bride and they willingly spent hours in my company instead of outdoors. Even when I wasn’t directly involved in their games, it was still in close proximity to where I was. It was sweet, really.

Anyways, the evening rolled around and everyone got out their saanchak finery. Z’s family arrived around 9ish and were sprayed with some ittar and showered with petals. Done by the kids. With them, they brought, jewellery, clothes, dried fruit and sweets. I was brought out and seated in the centre of all the commotion. My in-laws then one-by-one fed me sweets, put either a bangle or rings or flowers on me, before applying some sandalwood paste on my neck. I was so nervous, I was almost in tears through the entire ceremony. Luckily, nobody tried to hard to talk to me – I might actually have broken down.

By the time everyone left, the ceremony was dissected and my family decided to get dressed for their trip the Z’s place, it was past 11. The events of the past few days started to take a toll on me and I fell asleep. Only my mom stayed back with me, for company. The rest of the family returned around 3 AM and the commotion woke me.

The kids were half-asleep, having had the time of their lives, extorting money from Z. The custom is that sister / cousin sister of the bride applies henna to the groom’s pinky finger and holds on until he agrees to give her what she wants – usually a generous sum – in cash. I hear this event was a lot of fun, as Z prolonged it by having lots of negotiations, conditions and even fake currency. In the video, it seems boring to me, but that’s because I’m not in it 😉

Having been woken at 3, I knew there was no way I was getting to sleep again. The morning of my wedding day had already dawned.

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