Ten years ago I moved in with a complete stranger – one with a name I wasn’t even certain how to pronounce. We knew nothing about each other and only talked once before setting out with our families to find a place to live. We settled in a borderline ghetto apartment off the campus of the University of South Carolina – right up the street from a homeless center (whose residents we would one day meet at our door). If our surroundings weren’t going to take us out, our lack-of-homemaking skills were certainly enough to leave our families fearing for our survival. But somehow, like all college students, we learned to live.
The moments after our parents pulled away, the very first few we had alone, set the stage for what turned out to be an unbreakable bond. We had a super small box TV with limited reception. The only thing on was a Richard Simmons exercise video. So we did what any strangers would do – we looked at each other, got up, and starting sweating with the oldies. From there the rest was history. Barkha became the little sister I never had, though all too often, she was so much wiser than I.
We used to talk about the weddings we would one day have. As a first generation here is the states, her plan was to return to her parents’ homeland of India when that day came. But, time changes everything. A few years back, she met an amazing Indian man with a huge personality and name that could not be more fitting for a person who always seems to have a smile on his face – Sunny.
Instead of making the trip to India for their nuptials, Barkha and Sunny brought their traditions, celebrations and family to Florence, South Carolina, for an unbelievable three-day, 5-outfit changes, event.
The first night is the henna tattoo night, or Mendi. On this night we learned never again to ask an Indian, “Is this spicy?” Their anwser will likley be no but if you’re brave enough to try, make sure you’ve got a bottle of water (or five) on hand.
Outfit Details: This maxi was a Black Friday deal from Instagram – just $10!
The next morning was the Manglik Prasango – it’s essentially a pre-wedding ceremony filled with prayers and activities that purify and cleanse the bride and groom (their events are held separately). A turmeric power mixture was spread on Barkha’s face and arms via family members. The yellow dress she’s wearing has to be discarded afterwards; she can never wear it again, even as beautiful as it is!
Outfit Details: Adrianna Papell dress retailed at $189 and found at Belk after-season clearance for $35. Jewelery set just $6 from Burlington.
Later that evening was Garba Raas. For hours upon hours, guests dance in a circular formation to a series of synchronized steps. I was able to wear a traditional Indian outfit that night but as if my blonde hair didn’t say “I’m not Indian enough,” the fact that I took out a row of chairs because I was not used to the shawl definitely made it clear!
Outfit details: Big Buddha Bag (retails for $79) found at Hamrick’s for only $30.
The big day came on Saturday and if you think a Catholic wedding is long, it has nothing on an Indian wedding. The ceremony started at 10:30 a.m. with Sunny making his way to the Civic center with a majestic white horse among family and friends singing and dancing; the whole shebang ended around 2:00.
Outfit Details: This amazing three-piece set was handmade in India and given to us as a gift from the bride.
By the time evening rolled around, it was time to party – and man can those Indians party!
Outfit details: No special deal on this Cachet dress but sometimes you’ve just got to splurge. The Jessica Simpson Beryl Glitter Platform sandals were on clearance at Dillards for $35, but you can find them still at Lord & Taylor for $53. The rose gold earrings also came from a clearance rack at Dillards, just $7.
From start to finish, this was one of the coolest experiences of my life but the best part was seeing two incredible, genuine, driven, insert any other positive attributes you can think of here, begin the next chapter of their lives together.