Weddings and Cultural Traditions

My Dearest Komal, Anjli and Amar

What a warm summer it has been so far and looks like the heat is going to continue. Spending time in your buzzing city and the beautiful country was a summer well spent. The weddings were a great social and cultural gathering… needed after the last couple of confined years. I compiled the following video showcasing just glimpses of the Indian wedding.

Parts of our summer tour included visits to a few of my old friends. Perfect additions to our trip. The icing to my cake would have been: spending more time with you three! Oh such whirlwind times you lead. We are torn to moving back to the UK to spend more time with you(among other pursuits), but we were emphatically warned off this idea when we visited an elderly widow living on her own. What do you think? Should we move back and be more near you? I think we spend quality time together when you come to Zürich.

Coming back to the title of my letter; there are many reasons why couples get married: companionship, passion, intimacy, communication, commitment, etc. One purpose of a wedding ceremony is for the bride and groom to voice their wedding vows to each other. The rest of the invitees come to primarily witness these promises. For the guests it is a wonderful occasion to dress up and make the wedding a social gathering. This is the reason why most weddings become a noisy affair. For the Indian wedding, traditionally, only the immediate family is involved in the vow-taking ceremonies and the rest of the congregation is busy socializing. Hence the deafening din. This reminds me of Nalinimasi‘s wedding. I had brought along my university friend Alison for whom this was the first experience of an Indian wedding. Her senses were so overwhelmed by the bright colours and the loud conversations of the heaving crowd that she developed a debilitating migraine, which only abated during our coach journey back to Birmingham. These days there is no compulsion for an official marriage. Most reasons for getting married are fulfilled by living together. The fewer Indian weddings that do happen, have changed in many areas. There are now louder celebrations at the beginning of the wedding(arrival of the groom, ¨Jaan¨) and vigorous dancing sessions in the added event of the Reception. During the actual marriage ritual, the gathering is asked, by the conducting priest, to maintain silence. The guests now are actually involved in being the witnesses!

My memories of weddings are mostly based on the ones we enjoyed in Africa and then the curtailed versions in England. In Africa, majority of weddings were arranged and the marrying couple had very little, if any, say in the actual proceedings. Then it was customary to invite all relatives, local or abroad and also all friends and friends of friends. So the gatherings could number any where from 500 to 2000! Migrating to England changed many of these customs. These days there are smaller gatherings, more celebrations and an immense amount of expenditure. I am happy to say, it still remains a colorful and in many parts a noisy affair. Weddings are also a means of strengthening (and sometimes weakening) relationships of friends and family. One aspect that has not changed from the past is the intricate politics that ensues weddings, resulting in the juiciest of gossips.

As you can imagine, all this travelling and weddings meant that I hardly cooked. I can emphatically claim that we were fortunate to eat delicious food wherever we were.The wedding food too was always innovative and delicious and for my taste buds: sufficiently spicy. The growing number of eating establishments in London and elsewhere always amazes me. It feels like even the Western palate has shifted to a spicier version. What worries me is that with all these readily available food outlets, there will be fewer people who will be able to cook the authentic regional dishes. In the olden days, women (like Lalitaba) would be all consumed in providing satisfying meals to the household. Their whole time would be spent in shopping good ingredients, planning mouth watering menus and cooking. In effect, firmly tied to the slog of the kitchen. Remember, she would have been involved in providing sustenance to a huge extended clan.

With all my surfing of TV channels, I came across a series titled ‘Street Food Asia’ ( which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you happen to watch these episodes, tell me what you think? Do you feel that many of these authentic dishes will become extinct?

To avoid a few traditional recipes from becoming extinct, it is my aim to upload more recipes on the blog, so keep a look-out. One of the first one is going to be about making ghee at home. Specially for Komal and Prima.

By the way Anjli, thank you for sending me your letter via post following my last letter. It is always a pleasure to receive such gems. Please also note that your missing graduation photo has now been uploaded.

That is all for today. My best wishes to you all and I eagerly look forward to our next meet-up.

Loads of love, hugs and kisses,

Vishfully yours


4 thoughts on “Weddings and Cultural Traditions”

  1. Well I am organising for a christmas get together. Thank you for your comment and hope you too are able to use some of my recipes.

  2. Thanks mum! The graduation trio photo is now finally complete 🙂 no more degrees for me haha!

    Glad to hear you got my letter! xxx

    I definitely haven’t made as many weekend trips back to Zurich as I would have liked since I moved a year ago but we’ve still had some nice quality time in Boston and London this summer. Where will we see each other next? Zurich?! Or a holiday destination 😉

  3. Thanks mum! Prima and I can’t wait to make homemade ghee! It’s a guilty pleasure to have bhaat with ghee. Trying to cook more these days so as usual we are grateful for your blog and recipes! Lots of love xxx

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