If you are invited to one of these grand Indian weddings, you should jolly well make an effort. I inquired about the dress code, and was told that it would be all right for me to wear something called Kurta Pyjama. So I got the full bollocks. No mucking around. I went to the Delhi equivalent of Harrods, where the Suits-you-Sahib boys kitted me out, at some cost, in a green silk smock, an off-white silk waistcoat, and those funny drainpiped white pyjamas called churidars, not to speak of the agonising Jesus sandals called chaptals. And then there was the turban. Until you have had a turban wrapped around your skull, you do not appreciate what a socking great spinnaker of cloth it is. There’s enough to make a bedspread, and when complete it significantly impairs your hearing. The final effect was a mixture of Nehru and Roy Hattersley canvassing in his local gudwara. As the other guests started to roll up, it dawned on us that most smart young Indian men actually attend weddings in dark suits. They smiled broadly at me, and I beamed back, in a fixed sort of way.
The ceremony took place on a ‘farm’ outside Delhi, which is actually a kind of gentleman’s estate. It is an Eden with waterfalls and lush lawns fringed with mangos, acacias and other strange and stately trees. The breeze whispered through the chains of marigolds that hung from the boughs and adorned the canopy in which we congregated. We all sat cross-legged while a bevy of bearded priests sang and thudded their bongos. I must have dozed off, but awoke in time to throw rose petals at the happy couple, and to receive Sikh communion, a sweet pudding called prashad. This is provided in quite generous helpings, so I was able to stuff it into the face of our youngest, to keep him quiet.
From time to time a Welsh-style silver band would launch into a crashing oriental polyphony, and people would dance, or cavort, across the lawn.