We were already almost 2 hours late, but we figured they would be on Indian time. Just as we arrived at the beautiful outdoors ceremony, they announced the Hindi name and lifted their baby girl into the air . . . their very white baby girl.
Remember that post I did, quite a while back, about going to a wedding here? How awkward it was? How much attention we were given? How we only found out about an hour beforehand that it was even happening at all? How we didn’t even know the people IN the ceremony?
Okay, now imagine that – but delete the wedding and add in a baby-naming ceremony, something I didn’t even know existed until that point. We piled 9 people into 2 rickshaws (seems impossible but we attempt it all the time) and set off for a venue across town. We were already almost 2 hours late, but we figured they would be on Indian time, and called ahead to make sure we should still come. Just as we arrived, they lifted their baby girl into the air…their very white baby girl, announced her name and everyone cheered. It turned out that when we assumed that since it was a Hindu naming ceremony and it would be for an Indian couple, we were very wrong.
Instead it turned out that the friends of friends of our Indian friends who had invited us were actually friends of our very American friend, L, from last semester! They are living here semi-permanently though and when they had a baby, decided to wait the traditional one year before they annonced her Indian name (they had a Western name for her and named her the day of the birth, as is traditional in the West – however, in India, you wait an entire year before you give your child their own name that isn’t just a pet name). And, in traditional Indian fashion, we had missed literally everything except the food!
It was lovely though – we talked with the Hindu priest who had conducted the ceremony and he was more than happy to tell us all about what we had missed and the symbolism involved in such a ceremony. Since the couple was in fact, white, and American, there were also lots of other white Americans living in India there. They run a company that works to improve intercultural relations between American and Indian businesses and to help them both work with each other and streamline efficiency. Sounds pretty great. Plus, A and R, two of the assistant directors, were actually guest speakers at our Econ conference so we knew them already, making the whole situation a little less awkward.