Getting home was just the beginning. There was packing, meeting and greeting relatives, eating gorgeous food, dressing up in some really fine clothes and of course taking pictures - lots and lots of them.
The wedding was on the 24th and there was an elaborate function at home on 23rd. Towards the afternoon we started hearing news that the next day was going to be a state wide strike aka band. We did not take it so seriously. The issue was not one which would take root in the state's capital. Towards evening another political party lent it's support to the strike. Things were getting intense . Papa and mummy started getting calls from people. 'What to do tomorrow', ' what are you planning on', 'how will you manage', ' is the wedding still on at the stated time ' were some of the absurd but troubling questions being asked. My parents came back with the same standard reply 'the wedding is happening' and 'we trust God, things will be taken care of'. There was a point in the evening where mummy broke down. She just felt too overwhelmed. We all rallied around her and she felt better after sometime. The day of rituals, catering to guests, packing food and sending off along with the anxiety of the strike took a toll on her. We had a ritual in the evening when we had to goto a goddess' temple to pray. The chanting and the prayers made us all feel better. There would be challenges but as the cliché goes 'we would overcome'.
It was time to get into action. There was lot of arrangement around the food and the decoration and the car which would bring the groom. The car in charge initially said that he was scared to get the car out. My cousins had to call a few well placed officials to ensure that post noon there would be no issues. Still the driver was a bit nervous to drive a decorated car through a main road. The owner of the tours service said that he would drive the car if all failed and he was not able to get a driver. Eventually on the day it was the owner who drove the car. The DJ confirmed that no matter what he would be at the venue with his equipment for dhinchak music.
The estimated number of guests was 800. With the strike being fully functional the number dwindled to 500. We had to let go of some of the raw materials for food. There was an advance of Rs 2000 which had been paid for a type of fish for a dish. It would have been a risk going all the way to the vendor and getting the fish. So it was decided to bear the loss of the money and not go for the dish. The mutton was to be procured from a place called Salepur 350 kms from Bhubaneswar and brought to Cuttack around 30 kms from Bhubaneswar. The mutton vendor was not willing to come all the way to Cuttack so a few of my cousins had to drive to Salepur. A three hours journey followed by staying awake to ensure that there was no adulteration of the meat. Indian weddings are indeed a feat. Another prized item was prawns of which 30 kilos had been ordered. My uncle got in touch with a few restaurant owners he knew in case they would be able to get a few kilos. Eventually we were able to do away with 7 kilos.
People were pulling all sorts of strings. People were involved to the hilt. All our paternal relatives started at 3 in the morning to make it to Bhubaneswar before 6 which was the start time of the strike. It was amazing to see their efforts. My sister and I are not actively in touch with them. And they all came with their families and with such enthusiasm! I did not recognise a lot of them. But it was brilliant catching up with them. It was like old times when going and meeting them was an yearly activity. Cousins who were 5 years old were 20 now. Uncles whose marriage I had attended as a child were grandparents! It was exhilarating to meet all of them.
A distant uncle came from Bahrain cos he could not resist the chance of seeing 'Lichie as a bride'. Another acquaintance who was papa 's student and later my teacher came from Canada. A colleague of K's whose dad happened to be papa 's colleague caught up with us. It was just amazing! It made me feel so connected. It was buzzing. It was psychedelic. It was stimulating. It made me feel at home.