Sunday, November 27, 2011

the ros I

Not a lot of Americans know that--beyond that stupid "red dot or feather" differentiation Jay-Z made famous in "Girls, Girls, Girls"--there are a LOT of different types of Indians. As you cross the border into different states, you may as well be in another country because each has its own language, food, clothing and customs. And that's not even taking into consideration Indians who have settled in different parts of the world. You know, like the Midwestern part of the United States. 

My mom and dad are from different places in the Motherland, so each brings their own wedding customs to the table. Where my mother is from, they prepare a bride and groom for their wedding with a haldi ceremony by having family members give their blessings then put turmeric paste on their skin (supposed to condition it and make you "fairer"). Where my dad is from, they do a Ros, which is the word for the coconut milk/paste they use to do essentially do the same, but with a lot of signs of the cross. Also, coconut makes your skin soft and smooth and your hair lustrous. And it smells great, too.

From wikipedia: "The Ros anointing ceremony, conducted one or two days before a wedding, celebrates the last day of virginity of the bride and bridegroom and involves the parents' blessing of the bride and groom, who are anointed with ros, a mixture of coconut milk and coconut oil, while a cross is inscribed on the bride's forehead."

I was so thankful to have my dad's sister and her family (husband, daughter, daughter's husband and their two kids) here for the wedding. We've never had a wedding over here, let alone a Ros. Without them, we would have been totally lost. They flew in from Mumbai and Dubai, respectively, and did a lot of shopping* for the wedding. Originally, they were going to buy my wedding sari, but while I'm sure I would have loved whatever they had chosen, I found one I liked here so I let them off the hook. My cousin found complementary jewelry for the set I was to wear, she had dresses made for the three flower girls (including her own 4-year-old), and also brought a bunch of other stuff for everyone. 

My aunt brought the sado I would be wearing to the Ros, a hot-pink sari that my cousin wore to hers in 2003 (I was there, too), and my paternal grandmother wore to hers, way back in 1942. It was pretty fragile. I was honored to wear it.

It's worn a different style than what I'm used to, so I needed a lot of help. Later, they added a garland of jasmine and some other flowers to my hair. You can't see it well, but I'm also wearing a long gold necklace that my grandmother had given to my mother. It's the one thing of hers that I have. 

If you've ever seen a Bollywood movie, there's pretty much always a wedding (seems to be the main plot point--and usually the climax--because after the wedding, there really is nothing else to life, if you believe the film industry). And in almost every wedding, there is a scene where the girl's family is beside themselves with sobby sadness because traditionally the girl goes to live with her in-laws so the family is literally giving her away. This is called the bidaai, and sometimes includes sad singing. We didn't have that at the wedding, because we were very busy breaking it down. Besides, Jon and I live about six minutes away from my parents and I'm still at their house all the time. They're going to have to do much more than bless our marriage to get rid of me that easily.

But that didn't mean there was no crying. 

My parents had to give us their official blessings. I have only seen my dad in tears twice before this. It's so unnerving, I freeze, not knowing what to do. On the day of my Ros, I was pretty much paralyzed. Both of them were a soggy mess, shakily making the sign of cross in front of me and praying for long lives of happiness for both me and Jon. And when I saw them crying, I lost it too. It was a sobfest. Poor Jon, he didn't know what to do either, so he took pictures. Thank goodness for my relatives, who made a few jokes and offered them a little solidarity; they went through this too with their daughter. If they hadn't been there, I don't know what we would have done. 

I'm glad we had this opportunity to get the major sobbing out of the way before the wedding. I gave both my parents strict instructions not to cry on my wedding day. And they did amazingly well. Most of the tears that day were streaming down my face.

*One of the times my aunt and cousin were shopping for my wedding stuff in Dadar, just ONE day before the 2011 Mumbai bomb blasts. SCARY. Thank God they weren't there one day later.


Guyana-Gyal said...

Nah, nah, nah, you couldn't tell your parents not to cry. It's just not Indian! They should've cried and shamed you. The bride's supposed to cry too, especially in the car.

Before I wash my hair, I soak it with coconut smells sooooo good!

I also have a small bottle with dried rose hips soaking in coconut oil for my hands and feet. Hedonistic, for sure!

Shalini said...

1942? That's amazing! (Also, my parents would KILL to have a daughter who lived six minutes away from them.)

Madelyn said...

I thought there were going to be pictures of you soaked in coconut milk. I feel cheated.

verification word: Turell - short for Ty Burrell

cadiz12 said...

Look out for part II, Madelyn. You won't have to wait long.

Bucklebelts said...

Look so fabulous! You look more gorgeous in that dress.