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Sunday, March 24, 2019

ANGLO-INDIAN WEDDINGS IN KGF DURING THE 1950S AND 60S - Nostalgia



MEMORIES OF ANGLO-INDIAN WEDDINGS IN KGF DURING THE 1950S AND 60S - Nostalgia
An excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE 
Anglo-Indian weddings in KGF when I was growing up were grand occasions. They were homely and full of fun. Since KGF was such a small place, every one knew each other. Most of the Anglo-Indian families were invited for every wedding either from the bride’s side or the bridegroom’s side. Invariably, almost all the Weddings Receptions in Kolar Gold Fields were held at the Skating Rink.
Preparations for an Anglo-Indian wedding would start months in advance and decisions were taken by both families as regards the theme, the venue, etc. The colours of the wedding, the theme, the Church Service, the Hymns to be sung at the Wedding, the number of Bridesmaids and Bestmen, the number of Flower Girls, the venue for the Reception, the Menu for the Reception Dinner, the wedding favours, the decorations, the Centre Piece, the Entrance Piece, etc were all serious issues that were discussed threadbare and decided after a joint consensus.
The total expenses for the wedding would be worked out and budgeted and the expenses shared equally by both families. Unlike other Communities, Anglo-Indians dont believe in the concept of Dowry and hence there are no demands from the Bridegroom’s side for money or gifts. It was left to the Bride’s family to give their daughter and new son-in-law whatever they could afford to give them.
The wine for the great day was either prepared by the Bride’s family or ordered from another Anglo-Indian family. The cake and its design was also discussed by both sides and then an order for the same was duly placed with the Cake Maker or Bakery. Depending on the number of guests invited, slices of the wedding cake, wrapped separately in cellophane paper was also ordered. All these preparations went on in full swing and were ready by the time the wedding day drew near.
The Bride’s wedding Dress, a flowing snowy white gown and dresses of the flower girls, bridesmaids, the bride’s mother and other family members, were normally tailored in Kolar Gold Fields by the local tailors who were expert dress makers. These tailors could copy any pattern or design given to them and most often they would design the wedding dresses themselves. Some of the more affluent ones had their wedding dress and the Bride’s maids and flower girls dresses tailored in Bangalore or Madras. Some lucky brides who had relatives abroad got their wedding dresses either from the UK or Australia. The Bridegroom’s suit and the suits of the Bestmen, Page boy, and other male family members were also tailored at KGF. 
The actual wedding day was full of fun and activity right from the morning. The Bride and the bridesmaids had their makeup and hair done by one of the Anglo-Indian ladies who were experts in hair dressing at the bride’s residence. We had no Beauty Parlours in those days, so its was a friend of the bride who normally did her make up for her. 
The bride wasn’t allowed to see the bridegroom on the day of the wedding as it was considered inauspicious or unlucky. Meanwhile, all the men and boys in both families would go to the Church and the Skating Rink to decorate it for the reception. The flowers  for the Church was usually brought in from Bangalore. In no time at all it would be time for everyone to leave for Church and it was time for the wedding.
 The wedding service was always solemn and touching. The bride would look radiant and the bridegroom handsome. Many in the congregation would be seen wiping a tear, as weddings always have the habit of making people cry. Emotions are always high at weddings. All too soon the wedding service would be over and the couple were now man  and wife.
 After the church service, the bride and bridegroom normally went for a drive to have some precious moments alone together before the reception. Their drive was invariably to the Big Tree a little outside KGF by which time all the guests would have gathered at the Hall for the Reception. The Reception was always a homely joyous affair and everyone had a good time. Liquor was invariably served and the bar would remain open till the end of the Reception. The Wedding March, the Waltzes, the Fox Trots, the Birdie Dance, The Cha Cha, Salsa, etc had everyone joining in and tapping their feet to the music played by one of the local Anglo-Indian Bands.
 Before the end of the reception, all the young unmarried girls would gather in a circle and the bride who was blind folded, would throw her bouquet for them to catch. The lucky one to catch the bouquet was considered to be the next bride. 
Likewise, all the young unmarried boys, gathered in the same way, and the bridegroom’s Buttonhole Favour was similarly thrown to the group. The young man who caught the favour would then be paired with the young girl who caught the bride’s bouquet and they went round the Hall to the tune of the wedding march.
The community in those days followed the adage that ‘Marriage was for keeps’ It was considered a sacrilege to remove the wedding ring under any circumstances. Divorce or Separation was unheard of. The very word “Divorce” was not even uttered.  Most of the older Anglo-Indian Folk married when they were very young and their parents instilled in them that marriages were forever and hence they stuck together inspite of everything. They took their marriage vows seriously and lived together in good times and bad, in sickness and health, till the demise of either one of them. They in turn passed this on to their children and grandchildren and were quite scandalized when the present generation took their wedding vows lightly.


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