In the tiniest of tailor shops in Udaipur, in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, a squad of tailors chaotically fussed over me. It was the peak of autumn wedding season in 2011 and I was being fitted for a sherwani, the traditional Indian garment worn among Rajput aristocracy at Rajasthan weddings. My friend Dianne was standing in a nest of chiffon and georgette, trying on colorful saris. She was debating between the sequined turquoise and the glittery hot pink.
We had been invited to an Indian wedding. As the hand-painted invitation put it: “You’re cordially invited to the wedding of Sau. Kan. Hanupriya Jodha (daughter of Rani Kiran Hada and Darbar Mahendra Vikram Singh Thi. Para) and Chi Kr Navdeep Singh (son of Shri Th. Sh. Rajendra Singh Ji Shekhawat R.P.S. Thi Khachariawas — Adopted by late Shri Th. Sh. Surendra Singh Ji Chauhan Thi Sihali at Govind Villa in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.”
The newlyweds-to-be were not old friends from college, family members or even friends of friends. Truth be told, we didn’t know the bride and groom or any of their 1,000 other guests. We had been invited thanks to a New York-based tour agency called Micato Safaris, one of a handful of tour agencies that provide access to Indian weddings. Weddings in this region, which are mostly arranged, are a big deal — and for a tidy price, crashing them can be a great way to poke one’s head into a rich cultural window that you won’t get from a guidebook.
Wedding season in Rajasthan is October through February, peaking in late January with another spike occurring around Valentine’s Day. Micato’s Rajasthan tours have seen a seasonal uptick in guests’ requesting access to these lavish three- to five-day ceremonies, long known to include elephants, tigers, over-the-top Bollywood dance troupes and firework displays.
Read the full report here, New York Times