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Wedding (Night) Album

Surekha passed me a photograph album as we were drinking coffee.

"Have you seen my wedding night photographs?" she asked casually.
I nearly choked on the biscuit I was eating.  Was she serious?

"!  Don't think so," I mumbled.  Had I misheard?  Where I come from that means only one thing.  And it is not an occasion for taking photographs.  Was she mad?

Then the light dawned.  I smiled.  Of course!  Most Hindu weddings take place during the night.

"You mean the photos of the night you got married.  Right?"

"No!  I mean the first night I spent with my husband after we got married," she replied.

The woman was determined to be difficult.  I braced myself for what was coming next.

" sounds like a very private occasion..." I ventured.  "Are you sure you want to share them?"

"Of course!  Why not?  They're very nice.  Here, take a look."

I needn't have worried.  They were so innocent.  A photo of  a newly married Surekha, clad from head to toe in bridal finery, standing beside her husband in what was presumably a bedroom.  One could gather this because in the background of the photograph a large, lavishly decorated bed was visible.

Next photo.  Surekha's husband putting a mangalsutra on her.  The mangalsutra is a necklace of black and gold beads and is worn only by married women.  Some communities, like my husband's for example, use the mangalsutra for fashion purposes only.  For others, it is mandatory.  In some communities the mangalsutra is put on during the actual marriage ceremony.  In Surekha's community, a trading community which originates in west of India, the ritual of putting on the mangalsutra is obviously one of the 'suhaag raat' (wedding night) rituals.   Each community has its own particular customs.

Next photo.  Surekha and husband taking glasses of milk.  I found myself laughing at this one.  The last thing on my mind on that particular occasion in my life was taking a glass of milk.

Next photo.  Surekha's husband taking paan.  Paan is a kind of stimulating substance which people take after meals in north India.  I thought this must be the last photo.

It wasn't.  Next photo.  Surekha and husband sitting on their bed flanked by Surekha's husband's parents.  This one made me sit up.  That type of wedding night encounter would fill me with terror.

The last photo finally came.  Surekha and husband surrounded by the whole family on the most significant night of their lives.  One hopes that the whole gang pushed off after that particular photo was taken and gave the young couple some time to themselves.

I have lived here for sixteen  years and know lots and lots of people.  But that was the first and last time I've ever been shown a wedding night album.

Yash and I had a very quiet wedding, pared down to the very basics.  Wedding night rituals were not a part of our wedding, and we had no need of them.  Just as well.  With my western sensibilities, I would consider that to be a very private matter.  Definitely not  a family occasion.  And certainly not as an opportunity to take photographs.....


  1. :) Great story. I was too tired to remember anything from my wedding night.

  2. Oh absolutely brilliant. You've given me my first real laugh out loud of the day...priceless!

  3. A Wedding Night Album? I never heard of one and no way would I want one. Sorry, I would have put everyone out of that room and if the husband complained I'd put him out too! That is my red hair/fiery temper coming through! :(


  4. How strange! Not my idea of a wedding night!

  5. Gaelikaa, this is a new one for me too! Naturally it goes into my repertoire to be used at the appropriate time. If I tell you about my wedding night, you will take off into orbit!

  6. Just sounds like the last in a series of wedding photos. all sitting on the bed? How is that worse than a groom taking a garter off his bride's thigh in public and throwing it to all the single men?

  7. I wasn't surprised. It seems to me that in India a lot of marriages are more between families than between individual men and women. Presumably the couple was eventually left alone. I'm not sure that tradition is completely bad. It does reinforce the seriousness of marriage.

  8. I’ve enjoyed looking over your blog. I came across it through another blog I follow, and I’m glad I did. I am now a follower of yours as well. Feel free to look over my blog and perhaps become one as well.

  9. great idea,
    collect all wedding night photos together, sweet and joyful!
    Happy Tuesday!


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