Decorative henna body art, guests in Bengali saris, and a Mexican fiesta were just some of the elements of Sara and Rajeev Majumdar’s elaborate wedding in the yard of their friends’ Lake Whatcom home.
Sara is of Mexican-Irish descent and Rajeev is of Bengali-Italian-Irish descent. Culture and family are important to both of them, so they wanted to incorporate traditions from both of their backgrounds into their wedding on July 18, 2015.
“We went with a Bengali Hindu wedding ceremony because we thought there was a lot of color and ceremonies that would be unique, that people hadn’t seen before and they might enjoy,” Rajeev says. “And then we had a Mexican fiesta afterward for the reception.”
Guests were asked to wear traditional South Asian wraps for the ceremony, dhotis for men and saris for women.
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Sara says understanding and respecting each other’s cultures has always been necessary in navigating and growing their relationship.
“When we met, one of our first conversations to decide if we wanted to start dating involved a lot about our family backgrounds and values, because we both recognized that those come into a relationship whether you’re aware of them or not,” she says.
The couple asked guests to wear traditional South Asian wraps for the ceremony, including brightly colored dhotis for men and saris for women. To help guests with the request, Sara held a sari and henna party in April to provide tailoring and to practice wrapping the clothing.
“We were really asking people to step out of their comfort zone,” she says.
Traditional Bengali Hindu weddings consist of ceremonies over seven days, but Sara and Rajeev decided to compress them into a few hours. The day of the wedding began with a bridal party at which a turmeric paste was applied to Sara’s skin, and female guests had henna applied to their hands.
While family and friends wrapped Sara in her intricate sari embellished with gold stitching, the bride’s parents and Rajeev participated in ceremonies that offered blessings and thanks to each other and their ancestors. Sara’s brother, cousins and friend then carried her outside on a platform as traditional Bengali music played.
“The crowd just loved that,” Rajeev says. “They all got up on their feet and were cheering. Most people said that was actually the best part of the wedding.”
The bride and groom participated in more Hindu wedding traditions, including having a cloth placed over their heads, having their hands tied together with a flower garland, and walking around a fire four times together. The ceremonies have symbolic meanings in Hinduism, and the couple provided guests with a pamphlet that explained each ritual.
People really felt like they were in a different country, like they were in India.
Rajeev Majumdar, groom
To integrate Sara’s culture, the guests attended a reception with traditional Mexican food and drinks, tequila toasts, and a polvorón wedding cake. The reception was catered by Tadeo’s Mexican Restaurant in Bellingham, with specialty off-menu dishes.
“Sara has very specific memories from her childhood about the food her grandmother made, and we got them to go way, way off-menu for us,” Rajeev says.
After the wedding, Sara says, a former co-worker of Indian descent saw her wedding photos and was convinced they had been married in India instead of Bellingham, as the scenery and attire was so reminiscent of Bengali culture.
“People really felt like they were in a different country, like they were in India,” Rajeev says.