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I am just back from my cousin’s full-fledged, the big fat Indian wedding. The five days festivities consisted of mehendi, sangeet, engagement, pheras and reception with all the “tam jham”. Not to mention, the continuous events, lunches, dinners with so many people around made it a really hectic affair. Usually, I would have enjoyed it to the fullest with all the fun and frolic and meeting with other dear family members after a long time. But this time I had my princes, my two year old toddler with me, which completely changed the entire equation of the experience for me and my baby.
For my daughter, it was one of the most awful time of her life. Even if we live in a joint family, she is not used to interact with more than 10 people at a time. Whereas during the wedding, she had to face around 50 new people everyday. Going by the great Indian way of expressing love, everyone wanted to play, talk, touch, kiss and carry her around which made it even more miserable for her. As much as I politely tried to avoid/deny some unwanted “pulling of the cheeks” and “coochie cooing” from senior/stranger relatives, there were still at least a couple of insistent folks who would deliberately catch hold of her when I was not around. To add to it, the heat and humidity was unbearable and one cannot stay put in an AC room 24/7 because some functions are in the open. And by some miracle, if I managed to get her inside in a peaceful space away from the nosy relatives, I instantly became “recluse”, “uninterested”, “uncooperative”, etc as per the seniors rule book. Again feeding her was a big task, because she was not hungry or not interested. And imagine my condition, running after her to feed her the morsel of “dal-chawal” with a heavy saree and jewelry and a sticky hand. Horrendous !! So, instead of enjoying her first ever experience of meeting her relatives, my baby was constantly cranky, restless and frightened. She kept on asking me to go home and I was torn between my family and my baby.
Finally when I started my journey back home, it was a huge relief to watch my baby play normally. But the whole episode got me thinking. We Indians are programmed in such a funny way. We have such grand weddings with an elaborate planning to provide comfort to our guests. But while doing that, do we pay even 5% attention to the comforts of our kids. As adults, we “adjust” with the inconvenience. Because we think “shadi me ye to chalta hi hai”. But how can we expect our little kids to go with the same “chalta hai” attitude ?? We think, its nothing to worry about, the baby will get used to it. But throw that comment towards a mother who is trying to console her crying baby - I am sure she would hiss like a “naagin”.
This was one of the very crucial lessons for me in my journey of motherhood. And I have jotted down certain key points to remember the next time I go to even a simple engagement ceremony with my baby.
First and foremost, keep your baby as much away from the types. There are obviously some who genuinely want to interact and know your baby. And they usually don’t cause trouble and play with the baby very peacefully. But the more irritating ones can be identified immediately with the mother’s magical sixth sense. Keep 100 feet away and politely decline their requests as much as possible.
This is a huge problem. Because with all the oil and spice, the wedding food becomes inedible for our babies. Try making baby food at home as much as possible. Carry baby foods which can be made with just some hot milk/water. Try feeding as much fruits as possible – they satisfy the appetite and also keep the baby hydrated. Also try giving shakes, buttermilk, soups and sometimes a dash of ice-cream, which would keep the baby interested in food. As much as possible stick to the timings, and if anyone calls you names, be it. Your child’s well being is way too important than your reputation. I spent around 3-4 hours everyday preparing and feeding my baby. If it reduced my time with my family, I didn’t give it a thought.
Band, bajaa and crackers:
The first time they blew fire crackers and my baby saw it, she was literally shivering from head to feet and then cried for almost an hour. Same with the band-bajaa, dhol-tasha. I suggest, JUST KEEP AWAY IN A CLOSED ROOM !! If its sound proof, its the best. Some kids might enjoy all the loud music and dancing, but make sure of it first.
The mothers, without much say, are already adored with heavy traditional clothes, makeup and jewelry. It’s a nightmare to put up your babies in the same “avatar”, believe me. And then try carrying them around during a hot afternoon while having your lunch. You would wish to just scream !! So just keep the kids in some comfortable cotton/silk/satin clothes with bright colors. NO HEAVY LAYERED/EMBROIDERED CLOTHES. And no jewelry please. Let the little ones breathe.
Yes, I know the reception goes till late night, the pheras are early morning, the lunch is late afternoon and you are going to miss it if you insist on your child’s sleep cycle so much. But think that if the child is well rested, she will have a better time for the rest of the events. And of course, once she is sleep, you can just have some trusted family member to keep a watch and enjoy your own time with your family.
Inspite of all this care, there might be moments when the child may freak out. Do not panic and spoil your good mood. One can distract the baby and get some other kids involved in some fun activities and games.
Keep hope. After a couple of such experiences, your child will adapt to the situation and actually start enjoying it. After all, weddings are for games, enjoyment and interaction. Aren't they ?
Happy Weddings !!!