When I look back at these pictures from my parents’ wedding, I realise that wedding celebrations had a different meaning 35 years ago. The idea of a celebration was simpler and more intimate.
Everything was planned by the family, close relatives and friends. When my parents were getting married, my nani says that wedding preparations began months in advance. My parents fell in love on a trip my mother took to see her sister in London. My father was studying in London and their love story continued, after my mother came back to Delhi, through long letters. My father completed his Chartered Accountancy and they decided to tie the knot. Both the families hadn't ever met — my mother lived in Delhi and my father was from Kolkata. They came from completely different professional backgrounds — my nana was a super successful Delhi businessman and my dada was a top corporate professional working with a British company. But what tied them together was their roots. Both sides of my family hailed from Lahore and had moved to India during Partition.
They hit it off from the first time they met. Once the wedding was fixed, the preparations began.
My mother's house was a shaadi ka ghar — full of relatives and friends. The days were spent shopping for sarees and jewellery and the evenings were dedicated to the dholki over many rounds of kebab. The kitchen was full of the old house helps who were like extended family, looking after each person from the youngest to the oldest. Boxes and boxes of mithai, namkeen and samosa would come from their favourite shop in Old Delhi every day. And people poured in from all over India to show them the best pashmina shawls, coloured gems, silk carpets, sarees, hand-embroidered borders, and the list goes on.
The wedding outfit took months to make because it was handmade by my grandmother and her best friend. They spent days chatting and sewing the most beautiful Gota Patti outfit I have ever seen. As the wedding day came closer, the house was painted and the lights were hung. The local tent guy started his work and they designed a traditional floral mandap. My mother says that weddings back then had their own charm; two families became ONE! New friendships and new relationships were nurtured with big group hugs and long family holidays.