An Indian Wedding in New Jersey

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Beautiful Vartika Singh of Sydney married Saurabh Singh of New Jersey, America

By Manju Mittal

NRI weddings have become latest craze all over the world. Would be couples now connect with each other through the net and there are marriages where girls and boys seek each other across continents. I had the privilege of attending one such wedding of my friend’s daughter in America recently. Vartika Singh, from Sydney, Australia, daughter of Vinay Singh and Nikky Singh, wed Saurabh Singh in a lavish Bollywood style wedding in New Jersey, America. Vartika and Saurabh were introduced by mutual friends. And so began a long distance friendship that turned into a long term relationship and finally the marriage. On our way to America we met some other guests that included friends and relatives of the Singh family. Also came three Aussie friends of the bride.

Indian weddings as we all know, are elaborate and costly affairs not just for the people hosting them, they can be even for the guests, and this is not just true of the weddings held in India, but also of the ones held abroad. One must be prepared with six good outfits for all the ceremonies that occur during a week long event. The Indian wedding industry in America is booming. Indian community over there has grown enormously over the past few years and is quite rich and well settled.    The youth  of the second generation wants to combine Indian and American wedding traditions, which results in what we call “The big fat Indian” weddings.

The challenge for brides and grooms, these days, is not just throwing an Indian wedding but it’s about creating a unique one at that. Indian weddings abroad usually include four events. During the ladies sangeet, of course men are not excluded who are also keen to take part, the relatives sing and dance as the bride is decorated with henna during mehndi and haldi ( turmeric ) ceremony. It is a very intimate experience  with  bride-to-be given special treatment, actually the beauty treatment before the big day arrives, as  age old recipes of herbal masks with turmeric as the base are rubbed on the bride as women  sing some naughty folk songs about the mother-in-law. At times she is teased a lot when everyone wants a turn to plonk the mask on the lady of the night. Of course the groom-to-be is having his own bachelor’s night out in the meantime.

Then arrives the big day when the groom and his party (the baraat consisting of friends and relatives) rides to the venue on a horse. There are drums or dhols played loudly (not as loudly in abroad as they are in India) as the groom’s friends dance. They take as much time as they can while the girl’s side waits patiently for them to arrive.  There is garlanding or meeting (milni) at the gate by the elder family members from both sides and the bride is ready with a beautiful elaborate garland in hand so also is the groom. With a lot of mischievous remarks and teasing finally the bride puts the garland in the groom’s neck and vice versa. At times the friends on either side lift them up so that the Jaimala is difficult to achieve but with a lot of fun and laughter the ceremony of Jaimala is celebrated  which is the first step to the union of two people in love.

Then starts the priest his chantings of Sanskrit shlokas as the groom and the bride are sat in princely chairs all decorated for both to sit under the mandap with parents on either side. And the wedding ceremony starts which can be a pretty prolonged affair. For Hindu weddings, vows are said in front of an open flame with fire as the witness to the marriage vows. Finally the groom and bride take seven rounds around the fire. The bride then positions her great toe on a stone (which denotes that the marriage will be founded as strong as the rock) and agrees to the vows where the groom almost promises her everything he has and finally promises all his love with the  vow of love till death do part.

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Vartika and Saurabh, I must say, enjoyed all the attention they were showered with and also the kilos of mithai (sweets) that were fed  to them by all the near and dear family members.  It was truly a colourful event for the 200 guests who had flown to America from all over the world and American friends and relatives. It was fun all the way with lots of Bollywood dancing. The groom Saurabh Singh showed off his dancing prowess when he took to the stage during an energetic number. Apart from the DJ, there were many choreographed performances from both the groom’s and bride’s sides of the family. This was one of the best night ever as everyone got into mood of merriment and joy.


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Saurabh was not a shy groom on the day of his wedding as his baraat and party all dressed up to the hilt walked regally towards the function centre to meet the bride’s side of the family. Saurabh himself indulged into dancing and made his grand entrance on an elaborately decorated horse.

Once the elders from both families had formally greeted each other, the entire congregation moved back into the ”˜mandap’. A grand outdoor mandap and the elegance of the whole venue was to be seen to be believed. It was quite  tastefully done. Vartika looked gorgeous with beautiful brides’ maids who courted her to the door. Vartika wore a stunning pink orange and gold lehnga that was complimented by kundan and gold jewellery. The couple exchanged garlands for the jaimala ceremony before sitting in the mandap for the religious rituals by the priest.

While it was all fun and laughter it was indeed an emotional day for the bride and her family when the custom of bidaai (departure) came. It was followed by the reception at another beautiful venue of New Jersey, The Imperia. Indian parents and also the bride and the groom want lavish weddings and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the event something they want to remember and cherish for life. Of course it is all canned and professional photographers and videgraphers make a hefty buck as they follow each and every ceremony and make bride and groom feel so much special like they are the Bollywood stars of the ceremonies. The reception function was beautifully decorated with gorgeously adorned tables for the guests. Throughout the four day ceremony, a number of feasts were held, providing the guests with sumptuous dishes to feast on.

The wedding of Vartika and Saurabh went quite smoothly with friendly guests and family who went out of their way to make each and everyone feel at home and have good time at the same time.  Although we met them all for the first time in our life, groom’s family was happy to chat, dance and laugh as if we had had known them for years. It was really a union of not just two souls but two families and the whole clan of theirs made up of family and friends from all over the world. We all felt as if we belonged even when we live thousands of miles apart. It was an exotic, interesting and exhilarating experience for all. It was wedding with a blend of Indian, American and Australian culture, perfect mix of three cultures. I am sure that both Vartika and Saurabh are blessed to have a life-long union full of happiness and joy.


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