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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Here comes the bride, all dressed in red

    The Bride wore red. Gold threads glittered as she gracefully rose from the palki.

    Blushing bride Priya Echesse, played by Sahar Bilal of the Hindu Student Council, or HSC, walked toward the altar and was greeted by her mock-future in-laws with a traditional aarti blessing.

    With a nervous smile, she sat down next to mock-groom Roy Beeyu, played by Roy Tamil of Bengalis Unite, or BU. Separated by a curtain, both recited the mangalashtakam, the eight auspicious verses that serve as their wedding vows. As they ended, guests clapped and threw flower petals. The curtain was lowered in a symbolic acknowledgement.

    The new couple’s pretend life together was starting.

    Nearly 170 guests attended the BU and HSC Mock Bengali Hindu Wedding in the Student Activities Center Ballroom on Saturday.

    Traditional weddings can span a week or more with different celebrations taking place each night, but Stony Brook students only had one night to enjoy the festivities. Gaye Holud, a ceremony in which the bride and groom are covered in turmeric paste and given gifts in preparation of their wedding, was held the previous night. The bride and guests also experienced the intricate art of mehndi, applying elaborate henna designs to the women’s hands and feet in the night before the ceremony.

    For those new to Indian weddings, programs describing every step were placed at the tables accompanied by a slideshow which guided guests through the ceremony.

    “We know that [Hindu weddings] are so different from a normal wedding,” Sonal Nadiadhara, vice president of HSC, said. “We really did try to make the atmosphere authentic and real.”

    The traditional Indian wedding ceremony is about five thousand years old and is composed of numerous steps that vary with each Indian subculture. Each step has a symbolic and spiritual meaning that is meant to unite not only the bride and groom, but also their families.

    “In South Indian weddings, the bride changes her saris three times: one from her mother-in-law, one from her mother, and one she picked out herself,”  Shruti Tarigoppula, president of De Taali, an a cappella group, said. “The last sari is always white and gold.”

    Among other differences mentioned, the bride is carried in a basket by her family.

    The parents of both the bride and groom entered first, greeting one another as the groom and the rest of his ‘family’ made their way to the altar amid joyous shouts and celebration. The bride was carried to the altar on a small platform, a palki, by her ‘brothers’ and escorted by an ‘uncle.’ Before sitting around the fire, both families circled candles and incense in front of the couple in a traditional aarti blessing.

    A ‘priest’ was present to conduct the ceremony.

    Garlands of red and white flowers were exchanged by the couple to symbolize their love and respect for one another, a part of the ceremony known as Mala Arpana. After speaking their mockvows, the couple walked seven semi-circles around the fire, a custom that is usually done after tying one end of the groom’s scarf with the bride’s dress.

    These seven semi-circles represent their bond for life, expressing their hopes for strength, prosperity and happiness for a married life. A final blessing was offered by the priest and prayer to the Hindu god Lord Ganesh as the bride and groom left the altar.

    The bride threw flower petals behind her to symbolize the honor her new family will bring to her old family.

    The atmosphere transitioned from a formal ceremony to a relaxed reception charged with laughter and dancing.

    At one point during the night, the bridesmaids stole  the groom’s shoes as part of a tradition. At the beginning of the ceremony, they asked him for a ransom if he wanted his shoes back. He eventually bargained with them.

    Authentic Bengali cuisine and a wedding cake were served as guests were entertained with musical performances from both HSC and BU, as well as a cappella group De Taali.

    A traditional bharatanatyam dance performance was given by Sowmya Sundaresh.

    The celebrations continued with members of both groups engaging in fast-paced and energetic dancing, winding down as the bride and groom prepared to disembark on their new journey together.

    The couple sped off into the night, leaving guests to reflect upon the evening of celebration with a new experience and understanding of the Hindu and Bengali cultures.

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