Kissing At Indian Weddings
by Raj Desai | 11/10/19
Anyone else watch the SRK-David Letterman Netflix special? Just like the audience, I got a huge kick out of David’s remark about the absurd amount of water scenes we see in each film. And an even bigger laugh out of SRK’s childhood confusion when a scene of a couple, so close to kissing, would immediately cut to two flowers ‘making out.’ Welcome to our childhood. The Bollywood movies we grew up with are famous for their censored kissing scenes, only to be replaced by women writhing around in wet saris and men giving nose nuzzles to their necks (not a thing, folks). So it’s no surprise that as adults, we might feel some kinda way when it comes to getting rid of that censor in our own lives, especially at our weddings.
But we also grew up with American movies, with beautiful Western weddings and the big romantic smooch right at the end. I wanted that. The intimacy shared between the couple. The sweet kiss signifying the beginning of a new chapter of life as a married couple. An emotional and beautiful moment between newlyweds and witnessed by closest family and friends. But when I brought up the idea of kissing at the end of our wedding ceremony to my then-fiance, he recoiled at the thought. Yes, the man who was born and raised in the US, with a southern accent to boot, who chose a Tupac song for his mother-son dance, felt like kissing at our wedding was taking it a step too far.
Fast forward a couple of years to his cousin’s wedding. The bride and groom did a beautifully choreographed slow dance at the beginning of the reception. When he dipped her at the very end, he went in for an obviously unplanned kiss. While I watched adoringly with a sappy grin on my face, my husband let out a loud, “Ooooo!” You know the one, the sound a little kid makes when they act as a toddler equivalent to the witness of a crime.
I’m from the camp where I like to say, the HELL with what our conservative relatives think – you do you
This really got me thinking – why is kissing at weddings still so controversial for a lot of us? As much as our parents, grandparents, and the Bollywood film industry would like us to believe, we all know that kissing isn’t always a “sexual” thing. Even in the Indian movies of yore, before the Indian Film Board censored kissing from films, the inclusion of kissing in films wasn’t sexualized. It was…normal. And natural. A show of human affection. Take, for instance, the 1933 Indian-German-British film ‘Karma,’ where actress Devika Rani locks lips with Himansu Rai for a full 4 minutes – not to get his rocks off, but because he was stricken by a snake bite. Her initial kisses are frantic, a profession of her love for him, and eventually she tries to revive him with them. Emotional and sweet. But not sexual. Also, can we just get it on record that the wet sari scenes and neck nuzzling are a lot more salacious than an actual kiss?!
Sure, I get it, maybe the idea of kissing in front of your elderly grandparents and relatives makes you cringe. But if it’s meaningful and important to you or to your partner, really consider it. I’m from the camp where I like to say, the HELL with what our conservative relatives think – you do you. And even though there isn’t a natural part of traditional Indian ceremonies where couples are encouraged to kiss, you can always create one. If you’re having a Sikh ceremony, maybe it’s after you walk back down the aisle with your now-spouse, and you share a sweet smooch while your guests shower you with flower petals. Or if you’re having a Hindu ceremony, perhaps you kiss right before you step down from the mandap. Or, if you really want to have that moment but you’re not fond of having an audience, it’s the minute you and your SO are alone for the first time once the ceremony ends.
The upside of there not being a guidebook on how to share your first kiss at an Indian wedding is that you and your partner can decide how to pull it off in a way that you both are comfortable with. So eff the naysayers and the asexual Indian relatives (I mean, where do they think those babies they’re pressuring you to have come from anyways?!) and seal your wedding with a kiss.
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