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Knights Off The Grid

Udaipur Wedding

INDIA | Tuesday, 29 March 2011 | Views [1662] | Comments [2]

After the 14-hour trip by car and 17-hour trip by train to Southern India, it was nice to join the industrialized world again, however briefly, and catch a plane north to the old city of Udaipur.  This is the state of Rajasthan, home of the oldest known civilization and several of the greatest warrior tribes in history.  It’s located in the middle of the Great Indian Desert and one side of the state borders Pakistan. 

It kinda feels like I’m doing a book report here.  

Upon arrival, we decided take a breather from having to continually focus on the “how, when and where” of travel for a while.  The second we arrived in our guesthouse, Rama V, we knew we’d picked the right place.  The view was incredible.  The city of Udaipur centers around Pichola Lake and The Taj Lake Palace - literally an ancient palace surrounded by a huge moat - is located in the center of the lake.  It’s a place only described in fairy tales.  I’m sure many Indian travelers arrive here and breath a collective sigh of relief due to its laid back atmosphere and dry climate - I know we did.  Emily and I spent days exploring the narrow, cobblestone back roads, ate off-the-charts Northern India cuisine, checked out some forts and temples, and watched fireworks every evening from our rooftop while the locals celebrated Diwali.  

Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, is the largest Hindu festival in India.  It’s a 3-day affair that’s similar to what Christmas would be like on the beaches of Normandy during D-day.  

From Wikipedia:

In Hinduism, Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom of Ayodhya after defeating (the demon king) Ravana, the ruler of Lanka in the epic Ramayana. It also celebrates the slaying of the demon king Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Both signify the victory of good over evil. In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha by Mahavira in 527 BC.[3][4] In Sikhism, Diwali commemorates the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji to Amritsar after freeing 52 Hindu kings imprisoned in Fort Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir; the people lit candles and divas to celebrate his return, which is why Sikhs also refer to Diwali as Bandi Chhorh Divas, "the day of release of detainees". Diwali is considered a national festival in India and Nepal.

In modern times, Diwali means lots candy, new clothes, candles and fireworks.  Lots of fireworks.  These people really, really like fireworks.  Their firecrackers aren’t even firecrackers, they’re hand grenades sans the shrapnel.  I remember the instructions on a package of Blackcats in the United States that read, “Light fuse.  Get Away.”  The Indian version should say, “Light fuse.  Run For Your Life.”  When these things go off - which typically starts at 7am - you actually feel the concussion of the blast move through your body.

According to the Journal of Reconstructive Surgery, there were one hundred fifty-seven firework related injuries reported in India between 1997 to 2006.  This doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize these were the cases requiring plastic surgery.  There are no statistics for non-plastic-surgery injuries.

The definite highlight of this portion of our trip - and our lives in general - was being a part of a traditional Indian wedding celebration.  Dennis Plink, an Australian that has traveled and done business in India for over a decade, decided it’d be neat to marry his long-time girlfriend, Connie, in Udaipur during Diwali.  Who wouldn’t want to get married on Christmas during D-Day?  Like all Indian weddings, the event was a multi-day affair that featured fireworks, a “henna night,” LOTS of food, and group day trips to the area sights.  The night of the actual marriage kicked off with a parade through Old Town that was quite possibly the biggest thing to hit Udaipur since they filmed Octopussy here in in 1982.  We met Dennis, Connie and the rest of the wedding party on a rooftop one evening, hit it off with everyone, and summarily got invited to join the festivities.  It was a huge honor...huger than we could have ever imagined.    

The wedding party (which included about 50 guests, 10 dancers, 20 members of a marching band, 6 or so animal attendants, and the cooks/servers) left the hotel dressed in traditional Indian wedding attire and marched the full 3km to the site of the ceremony.  By the time we arrived, we had a small army of wedding-parade-crashers following in our wake.  The groom, unbelievably, rode an elephant, a camel was provided for the bride (which she dumped in lieu of a car), while the best man rode an elaborately decorated war horse. 

During the parade, I couldn’t help but notice I was drawing a high level of attention from the locals.  This was a huge honor considering my competition included an elephant.  I stood a little taller, walked a little straighter, posed for several photographs and absolutely oozed pride.  This feeling was shattered later in the evening when the wedding coordinator pointed out that I had my turban on backwards.      

That walk was easily one of the most surreal experiences of our lives.  One thing we’ve figured out about India: you never, ever know what’s going to happen from one hour to the next.  Our fears of this place were both dead-on and way off base.  We’ve already been looking into extending our trip as there’s just too much to see in a short 3 weeks.  

For some, INDIA stands for I'll Never Do It Again.  For us, India is a place we never want to leave.  

Tags: india, rajastan, udaipur, wedding



Hi Emily and Chris,

We really loved your photo of the women of India above and decided to share it with our travel community on our Facebook page so that they could enjoy it too.

Happy Travels!

  Alicia Apr 5, 2011 10:23 AM


Thanks! For one of our pics to be selected for your Facebook page is quite an accomplishment and a huge honor.

WorldNomads.com is awesome!

  chrisaknight Apr 5, 2011 12:18 PM

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