Today was the official mehndi day! This day is traditionally the day before the wedding and brides often have their henna put on this night. However, Lubna, like many brides these days put her henna on two days before because it allows the mehndi’s color to set as it gets darker over the first forty-eight hours that it is on. This allows the bride to have the beautiful dark color that mehndi is famous for.
Feraz and I woke up early since we had to prepare the gifts to take to the bride’s house and Feraz had to go pick up some family from the airport. The morning was spent packing the outfits we were going to give Lubna as gifts for her wedding. South Asian brides are often presented with many, many gifts from both their own families and the groom’s families. Among the gifts are lots of new clothes that they will wear as a “nai duhlan” or new bride. After a couple is married, family members and friends will host dinner parties for them as newlyweds and at these parties the new brides are often expected to be dressed up. They wear the many new clothes, shoes, purses and jewelry that they are presented with on this day.
After we prepared the gifts we got ready to head over to the bride’s house. Outside we lined ourselves up in pairs and created a procession to walk into the house. We also took traditional things like nuts and sugars which symbolize different well-wishes for the new couple, such as them having a sweet life together.
Lubna’s family had prepared a delicious lunch for us and we all ate lots and lots of delicious food. Soon, the men headed out for Friday prayer and Lubna came down to be with all of us. (Since the bride and groom don’t see each other before they are married, she would stay in her room with her friends and family whenever we were over with Fahad.)
We then showed her all the presents she got and then her family presented her with gifts as well. The best part for a by-stander like me is that when you are a part of the family you get gifts too! I got a beautiful pink outfit and some gold earrings just for showing up! FABULOUS!!!
After hanging out with the family for a little while longer we headed out so we could go get ready for the evening festivities.
Hena, my sister-in-law, and some of Feraz’s cousins and I headed out to get our pamper on. We went to a fabulous mall where we got manicures and pedicures and enjoyed some down, girl time. It was a nice break from everything!
In my opinion the mehndi is the best part of the wedding. You get to dance your but off late into the night and I had been looking forward to it for weeks. So, here I insert my only grip of the wedding. There was no free-style dancing!! Usually a mehndi works like this. You get to the hall. Everyone tells you you look sooooooo cute. Then you tell everyone, nooooo YOUUUU look sooooo cute. Then there is some fun music and the bride walks in. On this day she is usually wearing simple clothes in yellow and has little to no make up on. I think part of the reason for this is so the next day you are even more shocked by how gorgeous she is when she is all done up. But now everyone turns to the bride and tells her that she looks soooo cute. So far, so good.
Then everyone sits down and eats. There was some amazing halva, puri, channa and chicken for dinner. We feasted! Next, at mehndis there are usually choreographed dances from both sides of the family. However the grooms side (us) punked out and we were all so slammed before the wedding that none of us were able to have time to choreograph and practice dances. So boo on us! But I know we would have if we could have. The girls side had some great choreographed dances and we had a good time watching them. So, usually at this point, after the last scheduled dance is done, that group goes out to the crowd and grabs everyone and there is a crazy dance party!
Nope. We tried putting on american songs, desi songs, arab songs, fast songs, faster songs. No go!!
We tried and tried and tried to get the momentum going but it was way too awkward. The set up for the choreographed dances is that everyone sits around and watches the people who have stuff prepared. So, when you go into the free style and you are only one of three people on stage with about 100 aunties staring at you, judging you, wondering if you are single and available for their son, you feel mortified!! If a huuuge group goes up at once it works because you all just become one big dancing body and collective judgment doesn’t feel so bad. Alone, it is just awkward and then the music stops and there is no dance party and you go cry in the bathroom. As I did. SO SAD!!!!!!
Afterwards someone told me that biharis don’t really dance at mehndis! Is this true??? Shocking!!! I am Punjabi! I was born to naach. So, it was sad but I am going to make up for it by dancing non-stop in Michigan until the wedding is completely over.