The Festivities Begin!!!
In the morning of day 1 of so much fun, all the ladies of the house: Sylvie, her sister, Mom, Mamiji (my maternal uncle's wife), and Madelyn got henna done on hands and feet. Even Jeff got a little design done on one hand. The first three photos are of my henna, which got progressively darker over the next few days.
In the evening, we had the ceremonial Ladies' Sangeet (music). Traditionally, only women from the bride's side will gather at her house and sing and dance. It involves making loads of fun of the soon to be husband and the in-laws. It served the purpose of lightening the mood of everybody when they knew they might never see the girl after she got married and left.
We had our closest friends and family attend this event. My sister and mom combined a number of customs from both my mom's and my dad's side of the family. So, after a little singing and dancing, my mamiji tied a string on Jeff's and my right hand with 7 knots each. This string will resurface 2 days later. My mamaji (my maternal uncle) put my chura on. This identifies me as a newlywed.
Then, all my sisters (real, cousins and girlfriends) tied kaleeres to a bracelet on each of my arms. That got pretty heavy. Apparently, if I touch the kaleeras to the top of unmarried sisters' and nieces' heads, they'll get married soon. After that, almost everyone put a mixture of turmeric and water on our hands and faces.
This website has good summaries of Indian wedding traditions. We did all that are mentioned in one way or another.
This night ended with lots of food, friends and dancing. I only have a few photos because we had an official photographer and videographer for the ceremonies.
I forgot to mention another traditional thing that was done today. My maternal aunt walked the neighborhood with a lit pot called a Jaggo, announcing the marriage to all neighbors.