Last weekend I went to a lovely all-vegetarian party on Saturday night, thrown by friends of mine, a married couple called Shabari and Sagar, who are British-born Indians. They both come from Hindu families, and this event was actually one of the celebrations involved in the traditional Hindu wedding ceremony (I wrote about the wedding in a former blog here, entitled A Winter Wedding Is A Winner, back in November 2012).This event, the Bou Bhaat, is the bridegroom's celebration and I gather that it is usually held a couple of days after the main ceremony. However the happy couple decided to wait until the weather warmed up and improved, since the wedding was in winter. We have had such a prolonged, Arctic-style winter, that they have had to wait until this month, May, for some good weather! So the celebration was delayed by a few months, but no less impressive for all that.
The party was held in a banqueting suite in North London, near where they live, and we were all seated at tables,as at a traditional wedding reception. The room was once again beautifully and colourfully decorated. The bride and groom both wore wonderfully colourful and ornate costumes (see picture), as is the Indian wedding custom, and I was pleased to see that all the food served there was vegetarian, in line with orthodox Hindu tradition! I don't know how many of the guests were meat-eaters; Shabari herself is a vegan, and invited a lot of her vegan friends, like me and quite a few others, but her husband is not a vegan, or even a vegetarian, I believe (she is trying to convert him – she describes him as a "work in progress"!)
It was self-service, buffet food, and it was all labelled as either Vegetarian or Vegan. For the vegans, like me, there was a good choice, consisting of rice dishes, vegetable curries, samosas, chutneys, different types of breads, etc. The drink was also all provided, with bottles of wine, beer and spirits on the tables, and Shabari told me she had made sure that the wine was vegan, as she had bought it from the Co-operative shop. (That is one of the best chains of shops for vegans to use in the UK actually, as they have a strong ethical and environmentally-friendly bias). There were vegan Indian desserts as well, such as the carrot halva, which I tried a little bit of, very delicious! I don't have a very sweet tooth though, so I gave most of the desserts a miss. So they certainly did not stint in providing us with tasty and satisfying food and drink for the evening.
The piéce de resistance of the evening was the cake, a beautiful huge red and white confection, which had been made especially for them by a local vegan baker. There was a ceremonial moment involving Shabari and Sagar both cutting the cake, as at any wedding, and then we were all given a slice to take home. I ate mine the next day, and very toothsome it was too! (I believe there is a superstition that if you sleep with a piece of wedding cake under your pillow, you will dream of your future husband! I was tempted to do that, but didn't want to squash the cake and make it inedible!)
So it was altogether a very enjoyable evening and I kind of wish we could do it all over again!
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