Despite all the pomp and spectacles that appear on the surface of a big Indian wedding ? marigolds, red carpets, brass bands, horses, elephants, fire eaters, the odd groom-carrying helicopter ? the real opulence lies behind the scene. Wrapped in tissue and tulle, showcased with creativity and attention detail that would put Saks? Christmas window display to shame, the best sight to behold is the bride?s trousseau.
Imagine the largest, deepest, widest hope chest you?ve seen ? and multiply its capacity by a hundred. This is often the size of a bride?s wedding loot from her parents, usually the lion?s share of the wealth she will inherit. Traditionally, an Indian bride would take everything she ever needed to her husband?s home, from banal household items like ironing boards and hair brushes to the most exquisite jewelry. Seventy two years ago, this writer?s grandmother brought with her a four poster Portuguese bed that I sleep in now, and Chinese satin sheets that have since faded and are kept only for good luck, or ?shagun?.
Trousseaus today are more practical, consisting of mutual funds, real estate and equity in thriving businesses, but still retain some of their original glamour. Jewelry remains extremely popular and some families insist on giving brides fifty one different saris. Each of these will come with a matching blouse, hand bag, shoes. Oh, and don?t forget the hairbrush.
Want to feel like an Indian bride? Here are four stores in Mumbai you should visit:
Jaipur Gems: One of the city?s most reputable jewelers, they specialize in jadau, jewelry made from uncut stones like diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Exquisite workmanship ? even the back of their pieces are pretty ? and reliability are their unique selling points. Dharam Palace, Sitaram Patkar Marg, Opera House, Chowpatty, Mumbai, visit www.jaipurgems.com
Smriti Murarka: This society matron retails stunning Maheshwari saris out of her home, yards and yards of flawless silks hand woven by rural artisans and extremely coveted at any wedding. Murarka House, Carmichael Road, opposite Jaslok Hospital, call (+91) 9820298952 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (+91) 9820298952 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, by appointment only.
Malaga: Proprietor and designer Malini Agarwal might have shown her collection all over the world, but her jewel-studded, Mughal-inspired handbags and footwear go best with Indian outfits. Palladium at High Street Phoenix, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.
Sabyasachi: This Bengali designer?s flagship Mumbai store fuels a hundred trousseaus, stocking traditional Indian outfits, hand-embroidered slippers and most recently, precious jewelry inspired by ancient Rajasthani kings. 52 Dr. V. B. Gandhi Marg, Near Rhythm House, Kala Ghoda, call (+91)22 2262 3335 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (+91)22 2262 3335 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
Shop for a Perfect Week-in-Mumbai Wardrobe on L-atitude here.