UFO in a Punjabi wedding

This article first appeared in Hindustan Times.

Imagine my reaction when a middle-aged man with a most straight face told me that the flying machine – a UFO? – I just saw with my horrified eyes descending from the sky was actually the escort vehicle for the bride and the groom. Whoa! These rich Punjabis are certainly out of the planet, I thought.

Standing in the sprawling, well-lit farmhouse, I gave the alien vehicle a harder look, and noticed the flashing laser lights and the accompanying music. The huge blue-black thingy landed on the ground and all eyes, that until then were reserved only for the next round of Tandoori Chicken, turned to the fascinating scene unfolding a few meters away.

Half-expecting a few gray creatures with long-necks, large heads and almond-shaped eyes to appear at the gate, I swear I was the happiest when I saw two beautiful, dressed-in-their-blingest-best humans jump out and wave at all of us.

Marriages they say are made in heaven, and the two just seemed to reiterate the saying, flying as they probably were straight from the place.

Much was made of the grand entry and, with cries of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, the couple was greeted, hugged and fussed over while I wondered if what I just saw matched any of the quite bizarre wedding entries I had seen in my life. Nah! No stretch limo or a royal carriage came anywhere close to this spectacle that was, well, simply out of the world.

Which made me ponder over a growing trend in nuptial celebrations these days: the fascination with putting the couple on a higher pedestal than the public, literally. Hydraulic stages themed as moon, hearts, royal palkis or stars lifting the couple high up in the air to a thousand eyes craned eyes and gingerly returning them to the ground to wild applause aren’t uncommon.

Within minutes, my mind, wandering away thus, was rudely brought back to the wedding. It was the couple again, this time spiraling up and up on what seemed to me a revolving stage. All of s sudden, the bride went a bit dizzy and almost collapsed into the arms of the groom while the onlookers roared with hoots and cheers. Finally, the stage stopped some twenty feet above the ground. With me, the couple too seemed to heave a sigh of relief. Chants from the holy scriptures set to music reverberated the air and a rain of flower petals was pumped out from a machine. As I soon realized, it was the perfect setting for the Jaimala ceremony.