Wednesday, December 7, 2011

South Asian Wedding Celebration

As promised, here is a long overdue Hindi related update. So Paul and I are at least knee deep in Hindi at this point and are fighting our way through the grammar as best as we can. It’s not easy but language learning is a humbling experience. You have to be OK with sounding like an idiot for quite a while. We have become really good at that.

The good news is that we had our our progress tests (evaluations) this week and were told that we are both on track to get to the 2/2 score Paul needs for his consular position in New Delhi. In case you are wondering what that score means, the first number is a speaking score and the second – a reading one. We started at 0/0 in early September and are supposed to get to 2/2 by the end of March. The top of the scale is 5/5, which is native speaker fluency. Right now we are at 1/1, which was a relief because the evaluation is not really calibrated to our current level. The format and the difficulty of the material are the same as those we’ll have at our final exam at the end of March. The only difference is that at our progress evaluations we get one less long newspaper article than we will at our final exam.

What that means is that getting through the progress evaluation was really hard, painful at times even. We know how to read but our vocabulary is very basic and newspaper articles are way out of our league right now. We can also hold basic conversations but load us up with high level vocabulary and we are lost, which is kinda what happened during the evaluation. The evaluation takes two hours – one hour for speaking and the second for reading. The speaking part has three subsections: conversation, presentation and interview. The reading part has two subsections: reading 6 small articles in 5 minutes and then discussing their gist in English and reading one longer article in 7 minutes and presenting the gist of it in English.

So, amazingly enough, we got our 1/1, which we are told is where we are supposed to be at this point, so we are thrilled. But enough about that.

More importantly, a few weeks ago we had an awesome South Asian Wedding celebration at school (The Foreign Service Institute). It was supposed to be for Dashain, Diwali and Eid (major holidays in South Asia). Three days before the party/luncheon, the management of the South Asia Language Department learned that one of our classmates, Ben, was getting married and decided to make it a wedding celebration instead. Each language group secretly prepared a little number in the language they are learning and performed it for the groom at the party. Ben had no clue what was going on and was majorly and pleasantly surprised. The teachers also performed wedding rituals from their respective countries for Ben. Of course, there was a lot of yummy South Asian food as well.

The Hindi group performed an old wedding song. Our teachers had to help us with it, of course, making sure we understood the lyrics and helping us come up with the right rad moves for the song.  It was a little strange at first - we felt silly singing in Hindi and dancing around but we quickly got into the spirit and had a great time. Our teachers felt that we had to perform the song in Indian clothes but since almost none of us had any, they let us borrow clothes from them. The boys all wore kurtas (long shirts) and the girls sarees and churidar kameez ( tunic and skinny leg pants). This was my very first time wearing a saree and I absolutely loved it.

The saree I wore was made of pink and blue silk and I thought it was gorgeous. Putting it on was a little bit of a challenge but after watching a few youtube videos, I got the basics. I put it on myself on the day of the party but many of our teachers took the opportunity to fix it, which was a good thing because putting on/wearing a saree is really more of an art. Going to the bathroom in a saree is also tricky, especially if you’ve never done it before and the saree you are wearing is amazing and very much borrowed. I am happy to report that the saree did not get soiled in the process – whew. But I digress…

Without further ado here are some pictures of the festivities:


And here is a video of the song we, Hindi students, performed for the groom:

Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai (Today Is My Friend’s Wedding)


  1. I saw the video on Sho's phone, but it looks even better here. I'm so jealous of all the cool things you guys get to do in Hindi. It seems like you have a field trip or something every week! :) It looks amazingly fun!!

  2. This is a wonderful video ... And mega congratulations on the Hindi. Well done both of you.

  3. You were working that beautiful saree. Love the video.

  4. Thank you so much for providing this post.. South Asian Weddings are so traditional and also feels gud to have such a traditions..

  5. Aww! Who was Ben’s lucky bride? Was this a traditional Hindu wedding? By that I mean if the ceremony was conducted in Sanskrit, at least partially, anyway. It’d be nice to have a wedding themed according to a different culture or something very unusual. Hmm…maybe this can be a point of discussion for my soon-to-be husband.

    Isabel Cabrera

    1. Ben was actually getting married in real life but his wife did not know about the party because it was a surprise, so there was no good way to let her know. The priest was Buddhist, so he performed Buddhist rituals but many of the teachers were Hindu and they performed Hindu rituals. The Urdu teachers and students performed a traditional wedding song/dance from Pakistan. The rituals were the ones that would be performed for the groom. Because the bride wasn't there, we didn't do the bride ones. It was a lot of fun though...


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