Monica and Bobby’s fabulous Hindu wedding at Ballantyne Hotel

Parents do so much for their children.
They love them.
They educate them.
They teach them life-long values.
For Bobby and Monica, their parents gave another gift: a loving little push toward the altar. Just ask them.
“Though this would not be classified as an ‘arranged marriage,’in the traditional Indian sense,” Monica said, “it is still accurate to say that we were first introduced through our parents.”
The logistics of their dating would prove daunting to anyone. At the time, Bobby, a real estate developer, was living and working in Chicago. Monica, an IT project manager, was living and working in Charlotte.
Two more obstacles stood in the couple’s way.
“Neither of us was very interested in attempting a long-distance relationship,” Monica said. “Nor were we sure how effective our parents were at match-making.”
After some “initial delay and excuse-making,” as Monica describes it, Bobby decided to contact Monica. They met for dinner in Charlotte.
Apparently, Bobby and Monica’s parents knew what they were doing. After hitting it off that night, the couple spent countless hours on the phone and traveling between Illinois and North Carolina.
After a year of dating, Bobby knew Monica was the woman for him. Monica was unsuspecting when she visited him for a date in Chicago in December of 2011.
“We had planned to go to a museum, do some shopping and cook dinner… nothing out of the ordinary,” Monica said.
Just before they sat down to eat, Bobby handed Monica a large envelope. Inside was a custom-made photo calendar. Each month contained photos of places they had visited, complete with details Bobby had written about all the things they had done — beginning with their very first date the year before. Monica laughed and and smiled as she flipped through the calendar of memories they shared.
As she looked at that day’s date — December 2, 2011 — the entry said, “Bobby proposes to Monica,” and directly below was a photo of his hand holding the ring. Monica looked up at Bobby and there he stood with the ring in his hand!
“Will you marry me?” he asked. Monica, delighted, accepted his proposal.
The couple celebrated with lovely, ancient, wedding traditions and added a few modern touches of their own. The day was full of the blazing beauty and sensual rituals of a lush and lovely Indian wedding day.
“Our wedding was a traditional Punjabi Hindu ceremony from start to finish,” Monica said. “With many traditions following before and after the wedding itself.
The night before was called a Sangeet, a night of singing and dancing to celebrate the upcoming wedding. Traditionally the songs are sung for the bride to tease her about her life ahead, jokes about her in-laws and how she is leaving her parental home behind. Nowadays, this celebration is done with both sides with the bride and groom.
Another festive tradition included was the Jago, this is typically done by the women on the grooms side on the night prior to the wedding. Jago, translates to “wake up” and the women dance through the town singing jaago songs to entice everyone to join in the celebrations. The pot is then passed around the rest of the family and friends where they take their turn in the Jago alongside everyone else.
The morning of the wedding, Monica is given the wedding bracelets from her maternal uncle during the Chura ceremony. She cannot see the chura before they are placed on her wrists and they are worn to symbolize her being a bride. Traditionally, these are worn for a year after the wedding to symbolize her newlywed status, these days its likely worn for 40 days and then removed by her mother in law. Her sisters then attach kalire, golden metal jewelry adorned with stones.
Another pre-wedding event is called the vatna ceremony, which is done for both the bride and the groom by their respective families. The vatna is a yellow paste made of turmeric powder; it is rubbed into the groom’s face, arms and legs as a cleanse and a way to make him glow for the ceremony.
The next tradition for Bobby was the tying of the headdress, known as the Sehra Bandi. This is a veil of flowers attached to the groom’s turban. This is typically tied on by the groom’s sisters before the start of the Baraat. The Baraat is a procession of Bobby’s family and friends as he approaches the bride’s house. He is brought in on a white horse as his family and friends dance in celebration. When he arrives, Bobby and his family are greeted by members of Monica’s family, known as the Milni. Here, Monica’s father greets Bobby’s father and then other respective family members follow. In good humor, the family members attempt to lift each other up to show ‘dominance’…this can sometimes get carried away as it did with Vivek, Monica’s brother, and Rahul, Bobby’s brother. And as another fun tradition, the bride’s family attempts to steal Bobby’s shoes before he enters the Mandap for the ceremony. He is then supposed to pay up in order to get his shoes back.
Bobby arrived at the wedding on a white horse with a procession led by his family and friends, signifying his arrival at the bride’s home, where ceremonies customarily occur.
To accommodate both families and the lavish rituals and celebrations, the wedding ceremony itself was held outdoors at The Ballantyne Hotel in a “mandap,” or large altar, to seat the couple. The couple added a fun, non-traditional ritual, incorporating bridesmaids and groomsmen into the ceremony.
The breathtaking day was truly a feast for the eyes and soul, but for the couple, the day went by in a flash.
Monica says without question the best thing about her wedding day was her delight at seeing her and Bobby’s families and friends all having fun together in one place!
The couple is making the joy of nuptials last even longer: While they spent a quick getaway in Asheville following the ceremony, they are still planning a longer, more leisurely honeymoon in December.
They now live in Chicago, and are coordinating their work schedules and vacation days so they can enjoy a longer trip. Where will the couple honeymoon? They are still choosing between two exciting locales: Australia or Southeast Asia!

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