I recently went to a family friend’s wedding in New Delhi, India which included 3 nights of lavish banquets held at different locations with various traditional ceremonies and lots of singing and dancing! One particular moment I remember was on the 3rd night the groom comes into the open garden party sitting on a white horse and surrounded by tons and tons of lanterns, lighting his every move. What a spectacular sight, I feel like I was in a bollywood movie!!
India's income per capita for year 2009 was 810 USD.....I was told the wedding that I attended costs 1 million USD and lasted 3 nights while most of the guests wore 2000+ USD hand made sari and enormous pieces of jewels...When I say enormous, they are really big, and are not plastic costume jewelry but actual large chunks of diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds!!! Every night I felt like I was transported back in time to the golden age of the Mughal Empire where decadence and opulent palace go hand in hand in the daily lives of the royalty.
During the day time when I am free to roam around the city of Delhi, I can see the omnipresence of poverty that is affecting this world’s largest democratic country. Everywhere you look, people are living in squalid slumps, kids begging without arms and eyes (think Slump Dog Millionaire) and when the night falls, people are lining up on the side walk covered with some clothes and sleeping. It really feels like I am in two worlds but at the same time still in the same country called India. The disparity between the rich and the poor is like day and night (literally and figuratively), like heaven and hell.
Despite of the difference, however, Indian people in general seem very happy and well-adjusted ...My taxi driver told me that the rich people have their weddings at 5 star resorts while the poor people like himself have wedding in self- made tents in the streets, however, both types of weddings are equally joyous and full of love!!! When I asked him one night as he was driving me back to my hotel at around 1 am, “who are those people that sleep on the side walks everywhere?” He told me with a big smile “ Ms. I will sleep on the side walk by the hotel tonight because it is past midnight now and I have missed my last public bus to go back home which is 20 minutes away from downtown Delhi”. And he says “ but Ms. It is so nice to sleep in open air and under the stars once in a while, I am so happy to be doing it tonight”.
Perhaps it is the peaceful nature of Hinduism the Indian’s strong believe in Karma, reincarnation and the Caste system, people in India are at ease with whatever their circumstances deal them. They see it as part of fate and part of the circle of life. Everything goes around comes around, and if one is not in the optimum situation in this life, instead of fighting against it, just keep the spirits up and do good deeds and the circle of life will eventually take you to a better place, if not this life, then the next one. Many Indian people I met on this trip, from rich to poor all told me that they are very proud people, they know their place and significance in this life and they are content. The worst thing imaginable for them is for a foreigner to come in and start pitying them because they do not need to be pitied by people who don’t understand the whole reality of life according to Hinduism. I must say, I have visited India many times but my last trip really opened my eyes and enabled me to learn a lot about the philosophy of life!