Also, part I is here and part II is here in case you want to read those first!
At 3:30am, when I was finally asleep my MIL knocked on the door to wake me up saying I needed to be up at 4am. This is very common in A's family, where hitting the snooze button is adamant and MIL wanted to make sure I would be up in 1/2 hour. For me this meant I was up 1/2 hour early, as I don't really get back to sleeping easily (especially when you are getting married in a few hours!!). So, shower and then started putting on my third saree with A's cousin's help. Putting on sarees does become a lot easier with time! At the final arrangements A's sister finally arrived and helped us get ready. While I and the girls were getting ready in a room, A, his parents and other men were having the string ceremony. Here you can see a pic:
A's string ceremony.
After all the rushing around the previous day and despite the more elaborate hairdo (all following tradition) I was actually ready before the rest of the people outside. This was quite funny as Peripa now kept telling us to have patience while the girls made sure to voice that they were tired of staying inside the room and that the guys should hurry up!
Musicians getting ready.
My mom and brother, all dressed up and ready for the wedding!
Finally, I came out of the room and sat next to A under the mandap. The ceremony is complex and at many times I didn't quite know what was going on, many times people had to tell me what to do, what was going on or where to go. I won't go into the details though... After some chanting we went outside, to pay homage to the ancestors and ask for their blessings. First we exchanged some more flower garlands...
A putting on another garland under Peripa's watch, he's enjoying it! (see the dawn breaking outside??)
Then the ancestor's blessing ceremony. I really liked this part, and as Hindus believe that crows represent our ancestors. When I saw a crow hopping around about 2 meters from us I almost cried, thinking of my dad who could not be there.
And then we walked back inside, holding each other by the pinkie!!
Holding "hands" :)
Then we took a break... for me to put on the 4th saree. This is the VERY traditional 9 yards saree (the other ones are 6 yards, which means this one has almost 3 meters extra!), very simple, marroon with some gold embroidery. It is also wrapped differently and no inner skirt is used.
Me in the 9 yards saree and A explaining what was coming next.
The auspicious time for the actual wedding (6:30am) was here! So A. tied the mangalsutra, placed the wedding ring (yes, an Indian tradition), toe rings, walk around the fire, and then some games (like rolling coconuts around). By 9am we were done! Time for breakfast and then we (and A's entire entourage) went to the temple for Darshan. It was relatively quickly (3.5 hours in line) but by then exhaustion was kicking in big time! As we arrived back at the wedding hall and everyone started packing and taking stuff out of the room we quickly got our stuff ready and just sat around... we could barely move.
On the ride down to Tirupathi my head started aching and by the time we checked into the hotel I could almost not move. I collapsed on the bed (yay!! first time since arriving in India A and I were allowed to have our very own room!) and slept for the next 18 hours!! Just woke up once in a while, ate a bit, drank some water and would collapse again. In total I was sleeping/lying in bed for almost 2 days!! Definitely a bad case of exhaustion combined with a very strong flu was the cause. The funny part was A.'s grandma and her sister trying to reassure my mom that it was ok and normal to be so tired after the first wedding night because the physical exertion is considerable! A.'s main comment is that he was getting all the fame and didn't even lift a finger!
We finally made it back to Hyderabad (I slept most of the train ride as well) and 2 days later A. and I traveled to Delhi with my mom and brother. The Indian wedding was over!! A. says I pulled it off very nicely and that all his family was impressed. I was very glad they liked me and also must say that such the whole story experience is definitely once-in-a-lifetime experience!