The “Desi” Touch 

Desi bride

Do you hear the word “desi” in America and struggle to understand the word? Like who are desis anyway? I will take you on a journey that delves into the different facets of desi lives. Since many people have not had the chance to travel and discover their heritage, it will give them a glimpse of South Asian culture through these blogs.  

Who is a Desi?

A simple Google search defines desi as one “who traces their heritage to the Indian subcontinent.” It is a word derived from Sanskrit and this word is used frequently to describe the people & culture of the subcontinent which includes seven countries; India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and the Maldives. This part of the world is cradle to one of the oldest civilizations, i.e., the Indus Valley or Harappan civilization. You may be wondering why this piece of land is called a subcontinent. Well! I don’t know but that is beyond our scope of discussion anyway. Our conversation will focus on the rich culture and traditions of the Subcontinent a.k.a Desiland.

In the USA, people across the country speak mainly English. When you look into the Subcontinent, or South Asia as it is called now, numerous languages are spoken in a relatively small area. In Pakistan alone, there are more than 12 languages spoken as a first language while India has more than I will be able to count. I specifically mentioned languages because with languages come different ethnicities resulting in more diverse subcultures.

Desi Culture

So let’s elaborate on the desi lives and their culture. We can start with our most beloved segment. Yes, food it is; the rich colorful mouth-watering cuisines with all their spices and aromas. The unique curries like butter chicken, biryanis, fried snacks, kabobs, etc., and don’t forget the oven-backed nans. You have to taste it to know it. Lucky for us, Virginia has many many desi restaurants. But a word of caution; watch out for the spiciness in the food as it can leave you with teary eyes although it will greatly help your sinuses.

Are you still craving to know more about desi? Ok! Let’s talk about the desi mode of transportation. The Desiland has roads filled with cars, motorbikes, rickshaws and so much more. This is a total contrast to the Western countries. Desiland is heavily populated and everything is different and more colorful.  Even the truck looks different. If you want to see a desi rickshaw, then you are in luck as you can check it out at Shinwari restaurant. Yes, they have a display of rickshaws inside the restaurant. While you are at it, dabble in the food as it is amazingly delicious.

Desi Fashion

The next love is indulgence in desi fashion. Desi women are stylish, elegant, and very fond of dressing up. Just mention the word wedding and see the ensuing commotion. There is a preference for bright colors and long flowy materials. Pure cotton, silk, chiffon, and brocade are turned into designs to marvel. Hand embroidery is a unique art and there are thousands of skilled artisans who have dedicated their lives to creating masterpieces.

In Desiland, the demand for gold jewelry is exceptionally high and is a vital part of a wedding. It is given to the bride both for beauty and also for investment purposes. The price of gold fluctuates but even then the world will continue to see a rising trend for gold pieces. People usually use 22K gold as it is closer to pure gold but at the same time, able to retain the shape such that beautiful intricate designs can be created by hand. I have seen 24K gold bangles but due to their purity, the bangles could easily be bent and lose their neatness.

Desi Wedding

The shaadi (wedding) is elaborate and over the top. In Desiland, the families are close-knit and very strict in following customs and traditions. It has its pros like taking care and looking out for one another. It is such a blessing to grow up with uncles and aunts and grandparents and cousins. However, more people mean more drama too. You will find all kinds of characters in the extended family; from a nosy aunt to an overbearing cousin and let’s not forget the highly emotional uncle with a volatile temper.

I just got carried away. I was talking about the shaadi. The number of days for the event ranges anywhere from 2-15 days. The guest list is very long because everyone expects to be invited. The number of people can go as high as 600-1000. So if the event will last for, let’s say, 4 days, then it means 4 new dresses with matching jewelry. Fresh Flowers are extensively used; like showering rose petals, giving gajra and garland to the guests, special flower jewelry for the bride, etc. Red roses and jasmine are in high demand.  

Desi Bride

The bride is decked up in very heavy attire and when I say heavy, it means heavy. Red is the preferred color for the wedding day while yellow, orange, and green are for dholki/ Mehndi events. To go with the heavily embellished dresses, the bride chooses matching jewelry that is elaborate and prominent while the wrists are full of colored glass bangles.

The makeup is bright to complement the bling bling. In Mehndi / Dolki functions, there is extensive use of fresh flower jewelry as well as for decorative purposes. The bride/groom walks under a chaddar that is held by siblings/ cousins/ friends.

Elaborate car decoration is a must which runs from end to end. Similarly, the bride and groom’s room is filled with fresh flower arrangements. So now you have a glimpse of Desiland. Wherever the Desis go, they take a piece of the Desi touch with them. For example, there is an upward trend of fresh flowers in desi weddings here in the USA. People place orders for car decorations,  flower jewelry to elaborate arrangements. In the next blog, I will keep the discussion on fresh flower jewelry that Desis loves so much.

If you are getting married and looking for ideas with fresh flowers, we would love to chat with you.

Call (703) 593-1641 for a free consultation.