About two years ago, Kimberly Hu and her boyfriend went to their first Indian wedding. "It was a huge production — there were so many cultural rituals on the program, and so much dancing." said Hu, a VIP relations director based in Hong Kong. "On the the last day of the festivities, I basically said to Kevin — whom I wasn't even engaged to at that point — that I really wanted to have an Indian wedding."
Hu has always harbored a deep appreciation for Indian culture. The 30-year-old was born in the States but raised in Hong Kong, where Indians form the fourth largest ethnic group. Growing up, she attended international schools, and her parents took her out to Indian restaurants weekly. She was even given an Indian name — Kimiya Huiani — by one of her Sindhi friends.
Her partner initially thought the idea of having an Indian wedding was "ridiculous." After all, both of them are Chinese-American and do not have any Indian heritage. In a time where music festival-goers are decried for appropriating bindis and henna as a fashion statement, this is a delicate path to tread. "Kevin said because we aren't Indian, it wouldn’t make sense for us to copy the traditions, such as wearing saris and having a sangeet — a ceremony where friends and family do choreographed dances for the couple," Hu said. "And I do agree — but what I really wanted was to take elements of what I experienced and carry it over to my own wedding."
One of Hu's Indian friends, Amishi Sani, was also present at that wedding, and overheard this conversation. Hu and Sani have been close friends for five years, and Sani decided to take it upon herself to make Hu's dream a reality one day. Once Sani knew about the couple's engagement, she rallied another mutual friend, Rina Wadhwani, to throw Hu an Indian-style bridal shower, sometimes also referred to as a Mehndi party.
"We had thought about what to get Kimi as a wedding gift over and over, and then I realized that the best gift would be to give her an auspicious experience of an Indian-style bridal shower and Mehndi party," Sani said. "She is a thoughtful individual who appreciates different cultures. I figured that the memories from this party would last her a lifetime."
Due to time constraints, Sani and Wadhwani were only able to organize a condensed version of the traditional event, but it was nonetheless a testament to their cross-cultural friendship with the bride-to-be. Click on to see photos from the occasion — complete with vibrant saris, mesmerizing henna designs, and off-the-cuff dancing — as Sani gives us the low-down about the Indian traditions.