My third reception party: Haja Uttarakhand

by Namrata Nautiyal
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Haja Uttarakhand

Wednesday, 9th December 2015

This is the last post of the wedding series. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did sharing all my wedding details with you.

We have arrived at our destination Haja Uttarakhand, which to be honest seems completely cut off from the world. Its so far off inside the mountains, that thankfully its one of the least explored areas and the least affected by the world outside. I have always been fond of villages, their people, the culture everything…but off late…everyone wants to move to the cities…nobody really wants to be village ‘backward’ in a way. Everyone is striving to be tech savvy with smartphones, tv etc etc…it really makes a drastic difference between a modern village and an untouched village.

Haja happens to be somewhere in between but more towards the old style village. I love it. For a small village on top of a lone mountain, it is superbly crowded…think 2000+ residents. At first I did not realize it, but the minute we were home, and when the locals came in batches to bless me, there was no end to the line. It was quite amusing.

The ladies were so sweet…they spoke broken hindi, which was as much that I could hope for…and some of them were so pretty to look at…the true pahadi beauty you know. We reached late morning sometime…and the reception was later in the day.

Haja Uttarakhand

Can you spot me in the crowd..? Oh, wait…I am on the other side of the camera…my bad.

Haja Uttarakhand

The view outside the house

Haja Uttarakhand

The food – mutton and wine. Shucks. I don’t take either. For a remote village, it was surprising to see they were quite forward with their alcohol consumption. Women were openly allowed to drink and when I asked around…I was told that the cold was unbearable otherwise.

Winter was just around the corner. It was somewhere close to 5 degrees that morning. I had worn like layers and layers of clothing.. I looked so fat…I thought for sure, people would comment that a fat bride has come. But hopefully nobody thought that. I don’t know.

I stayed indoors for a couple of hours…I really wanted to go out and look around…but everyone’s eyes were on me. So I sat like a little kitten on one corner. I had a quick lunch, my MIL knew I wouldn’t eat non-veg, so she had arranged for paneer from somewhere…it was the best thing ever. I love her so much.

Close to around 3ish we were called to the village courtyard. It is a custom whenever a new bride comes to the village, the whole village comes together to celebrate. I didn’t know what I was walking into…but I squealed with joy when I saw what it was. The whole community came together to dance…the courtyard within no time turned into a folk dance floor. Everyone was singing, and the whole atmosphere around just changed.

Haja Uttarakhand

Haja Uttarakhand

My traditional attire

It was bone chilling cold, but no one really cared. Holding each others hands, in rhythmic steps we went round round in circles dancing till probably 6 or 7pm. There was no stopping us. The residents were so amused seeing me enjoy the traditions. But I didn’t know the steps, and I kept stamping on the women’s feet. I was the only one who was so uncoordinated. But I loved it.

In our home, two of my brother-in laws also got married within a day or so…so in all there were 3 new brides who walked in to the village that day. Because of this, the celebration went on for 3 continuous days of dancing. I love the village life like seriously, can you imagine…wake up…finish breakfast etc…go to the courtyard…dance, dance, dance…come back…eat, sleep…4ish go again…then in the evening…the villagers would prepare like skit theatre plays like…and would perform. We all would sit huddled up together to watch the plays till 10-11pm. And even after that the men were still celebrating till wee hours of the morning.

Haja Uttarakhand

This was wedding party like how it should be. I ended up staying there for 8 days, and by the end of it..some of the folk songs were my favourite. You know weddings should be like this, stress free…no nonsense about hair, makeup, trying to achieve that perfection, hoping everything that has been planned goes off perfectly as imagined. In real world it doesn’t happen, and sometimes it just breaks the heart and brings so much negativity for that one moment…one just ends up forgetting to enjoy the real thing.

Has happened to me as well. Mumbai wedding was completely my headache, and I didn’t enjoy my wedding as much as I would have liked to. Zillion things always went on in my head…but here, I was as free as a bride should be. I had no care in the world, I had no cell service, no tv, no ‘real world’ entertainment as such, but I had pure joy. I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed that much. It was beautiful.

It helps that the place you’re staying in is better than any hill station you have visited. With lush green mountains, to snow capped mountains all around…deodar trees and steep cliffs, with the clouds below…it felt out of the world.

The evening was crazy. Not for me. But for my in-laws and the management committee for the reception. It was not like the typical reception as such, we were nowhere involved…the whole village had already met and greeted us. But the reception dinner party was for more than 5000 guests. Its not a typo, 5000 people from different villages in and around came for the reception feast.

I didn’t believe it earlier when I was told about the guest count, I was like that’s impossible…but fields had been wiped clean to make arrangements for parking..and a big area was changed into a sit down…where line after line villagers came to have dinner.

Haja Uttarakhand

A strong 200 men’s workforce worked for over a week to make the reception a success. This is them having a cerebration feast a day after the reception party.

You see the way it works in villages is…there are 6-7 mountains in and around, where every mountain has a couple of villages, and together they are one entity…they think of themselves as one family…and when you have a joyous occasion in your family, you gotto invite your friends and relatives. That count happens to be 5000 !

 

Saturday, 12th December 2015

Its Diwali. People in Haja celebrate Diwali exactly a month later because during the old days, when news finally reached the village about Diwali…it was a month later. So they just happen to celebrate it in accordance to that date. Diwali meant more celebration = more dancing. But here, there was a difference. I saw the people in their traditional festive attire. It reminded me so much of the Sufi dance in Jodha Akbar. Trust me, it was something so similar, I was awestruck.

Haja Uttarakhand

It was something only the men could participate, which made me feel a little blah, but it was amazing. They danced to a song which went on for an hour, and the whole time they had one or two steps to keep going the entire time. The dance was tiring yet, you should have seen the energy levels. Things were insane. !

I had a blast throughout my trip up north. It was truly the best way to end the wedding celebrations. We came back to Delhi, almost around 16th or 17th…almost half month of celebrations later. I couldn’t have asked for anything better to start my new life. It was celebration in the true sense, and I was so so happy to see so many people join us in our happy time. You guys included.

 

Thank you so much for everything – for visiting the blog, reading through the entire wedding series, you guys are the bestestest. ! xoxo.

 

If you have missed any of the wedding series post…you can find the entire list here.

The Wedding Diaries post list:

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