Hindu Wedding in Mauritius

Sixty people stare at me. I stand before the father... the bride’s faπher. His Three-story home on the island of Mauritius is packed. Gold draperies billow from ceiling to floor. The father looks stressed. I tell him what now seems absurd: That my taxi driver assured me it’d be OK to attend this Hindu wedding ceremony the father is paying for. He eyes me. “American?” I nod, mentioning I’m a journalist, here for a story on ... “You like Indian food?” I nod. He smiles. “Come.”

He ushers me in, shouldering me through a sea of raised eyebrows. I explain I’m here for a story on Mauritian culture, but he isn’t listening. He points me to an empty seat at a long table and motions to servers. Curries, chutneys and papaya are dolloped onto a banana leaf. The father leans in — interrupting my rationale for crashing his daughter’s wedding.

“I will only be upset with your being here if you don’t eat. Understand?” He grips my shoulder and nods for me to get on with it.

I do. Tandoori chicken falls off the bone. Chutneys cake my fingers. I mop up remnants with naan bread. So good. Why ever use silverware?

I’m told the bride is up on the roof, where the ceremony is taking place. Really? Before I can ask why everyone is down here, another round of food arrives, thanks to the father. He’s back.

I begin to devour all of it. I must get up to the roof before the ceremony ends. A woman seated next to me cautions me to pace myself, informing me that today is the first of a three-day ceremony. What? She glances at the father, who is ordering yet more food for me. My jaw drops. She laughs. “For us,” she tells me, “eating comes first.”