Attending a Jain Wedding in India

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I'm going to be attending a former colleague's wedding in India later this year and since we have some Indian members on TT, I'd like some guidance as to what appropriate presents for the groom, bride and the groom's parents might be. The groom and his parents are Jain.

 

After the wedding, I plan to visit the Taj Mahal and some other sites in Agra and would like to hear anyone's experiences with the sites, any particularly good restaurants and about getting around in and to Agra.

 

Thanks in advance...

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Get to the Taj Mahal early, if possible to see the sun rise and light the building with a red glow.

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Appropriate presents:

- Fancy looking chocolate packages. (the ones which contain lot of variety's).

- depending on budget may be a digital Photo frame

 

stay in good Hotels (like the Taj or any other good rated chain of Hotels), even though they cost Euro 60 - 90, it is well worth it.

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Get to the Taj Mahal early, if possible to see the sun rise and light the building with a red glow.

 

This, and keep in mind Taj Mahal is closed for public on fridays. I didn't know that and wasted a 5-6 hours drive (each way) to and fro New Delhi!

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If you want to go inside the Taj, wear cheap shoes you don't mind losing. You have to take your shoes off outside and it's not unheard of that they go walkies without your feet being in them ...

 

We hired a local guide (there are loads, trust your gut with your choice) at the Taj and it was worth the small amount of money that it costs. They seem to squirrel you to the front of the lines and know all the good spots for photos.

 

Prepare yourself to see beggars and poverty on a huge scale pretty much EVERYWHERE, it's awful but it's better to be prepared. Give food, not money, if you want to give anything. Many beggars are in organised gangs and they don't get to keep the money you give. If you give food, at least they get to eat and that's a big bonus. We gave McDonalds happy meals to the squad of begging children that followed us around so they got to eat, drink and I made sure they got the toy as well (McDonalds could see what I was doing and didn't want to put the toys in - buggers).

 

If you're a woman, try to keep yourself covered up a bit. No mini skirts or shorts. Try to cover your arms and cleavage and your hair too (f you're blonde or red) if you like, it'll make things easier. Trust this blonde!

 

Actually, just watch "Slumdog Millionaire" before you go, it's not far off the mark.

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When selecting eatable gifts for Jain people (chocolates etc.), do keep in mind the following:

- Jain's are purely vegetarian

- Many Jain's also don't eat stuff that grows under the ground (potatoes, onions, peanuts etc.)

 

If you are buying something packaged and eatable from India, look for a Green dot inside a white square box, on the packaging. This means that vegetarians can eat it. If you see a red dot, then there is something in there which vegetarians cannot eat (although this does not help you find out if Jain's can eat it, perhaps you could ask the shop keeper!)

 

Other than this, I can't help you. I myself find it extremely difficult to select something to gift someone (so I just give a bottle of wine :lol: )

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Dont give them anything big and bulky that will be difficult for them to carry back to Germany.

It really depends on your budget, it could either be a gift certificate from Ikea (its very useful),

or if you want to be traditional, then you can buy a small silver item (can cost as little at 30 euros in India).

Or if you cannot think of anything, you can just put some currency notes in a nice envelope, but remember to

add 1 euro, we always give money that ends with 1, eg 11, 51, 101 for good luck.

 

In Jain wedding you are mostly served vegetarian food and (mostly) no alcohol. But its a great experience! have fun!

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appropriate presents -> Cash. Just put some cash in a envelope & hand that over. Its common to gift cash in India.

Chocolates -> bad idea!! Agree with Kaushik it melts and its a mess. Besides many traditional folks dont eat chocolates as they doubt if it may contain some form of animal fat in it!!

 

you are going to be attacked with a wave of humanity. Be prepared for it!!

 

Patience -> you would need lot of it!!

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Hope u have loads of fun... u can give cash, but that will go to the parents.. so u can also give a gutschein which they can use when they come back.. Ikea was also a great idea.. if u need any tips on where to travel in india, feel free to PM me... just be careful of where u stay, and ur belongings if u r out in the city... and get prepared to eat a lot.. smile.gif

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Thanks for all of the comments so far. Although the groom was a colleague of mine here in Germany, he now lives in India.

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Gift coupons are also available for many stores in India Eg;- "Fab India" http://www.fabindia.com/fabindia-gift-ideas/gift-certificates.html, "Shoppers stop" http://www.shoppersstop.com/index.jsp.vr

 

Depending on your budget a pair of watches from Germany.

 

Some cash in an envelope.

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Agree, chocolates could be a bad idea depending on when you go. If it's December - it's probably no problem - but would you want chocolates as a wedding gift? Cash is the norm for in India, but yes it will all go to the parents to pay for the wedding. If you want to give something that's more long term that they will keep, I would recommend a decorative piece from Germany that probably isn't available there like Leonardo maybe - something from here they won't get there - a nice china piece, nice quality glasses, a decoration piece for their home, good quality knife set (but they won't eat meat so no steak knives!), nice quality blankets, etc. Go with things you'd give at a wedding here - pick you budget and don't over think it. I would avoid alcohol - while your friend maybe drank here, his life in India around his family might be really different. Depending on your friendship, you could always ask the guy if there is something they want from Germany, and make it his gift if it seems appropriate. Oh, Made in China to be avoided as well. :)

 

As for general gift ideas - in case you need them as well - decent electronics are super pricey there and desired, same with kitchen utensils (i took a relative an OXO vege peeler from the states 6 years ago, some of her friends requested one this time and then flipped out about the price ($8 ~ 336 INR ) even though they are all upper middle class). Just remember, the quality of things there is cheap, nice quality things are extremely expensive (stuff I find as normal in the middle class world) to keep in line with the relative incomes. Nice quality things, even reasonable stuff from Kaufland, Tchibo or Ikea will be appreciated.

 

Absolutely hire a guide at the Taj Mahal: sister in law was there a few weeks ago and they did get moved to the front of a very long line by doing so.

 

If you are there during a full moon, if it's still possible, it's supposed to be gorgeous at night so visit then too - as a kid I was unimpressed but my parents were excited. And yes, ask to see the basement. Ask about the ground wire hanging from the ceiling in the main hall if they don't tell you about what used to be up there (I am assuming the ground is still hanging there). That's something I still find fascinating. It's possible it's a story my Dad told me and not our guide - can't remember but still love it.

 

There is also a palace worth visiting in Agra, and you can see where the King sat with the koh-i-noor diamond and stared at the reflection of the Taj mooning over his dead wife. If I remember right (this is from my memories 23 and 14 years ago - been twice) you can also see the foundations of the black taj mahal across the river that was started for the King, but stopped by his son upon his death, from this point. Take socks to walk around there as well, thickness depending on the time of year you visit. Right now, walking on the marble burns. In December it will be cold.

 

Also, savor every moment there appreciating the small details. The Taj Mahal will undercut the "Ah factor" of every other supposedly amazing gorgeous castle/palace you'll visit. Anyways, that's what it's done for me (which I know is so annoying for my better half, when we travel, who hasn't seen the Taj, yet.).

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Buying knifes and other sharp objects are considered inauspicious gifts among some Indian families. Buying a pair of watch (especially swiss or german) would

make a great gift. I loved the pair I got on my wedding! I know this is a bit expensive, but even a cuckoo clock is a great hit with Indian families.

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If you can make yourself look Indian, then you'll also save a bit on the entrance price to the Taj Mahal. Cost for foreigners is 750 rupees. For Indians, it's just 20 rupees...

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There's a reason for that, Hazza.

 

There are false economies in many countries, especially third world countries, including India, because western foreigners can pay a higher price for things and price out the locals.

 

Encouraging foreigners to abuse safe guards that have been put in place for Indians to be able to afford to see their own historical sights and offset maintenance for the sites for the massive number of foreigners that visit, is simply stupid - especially if you are an Indian and aware of the gross differences in income and lifestyle.

 

The enterance fee for non-Indians at the Taj Mahal is equivalent to the entrance fee for the zoo in Stuttgart. If you can afford the ticket to get to India, you can afford the measly 11,50 Euros to get into the Taj.

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but yes it will all go to the parents to pay for the wedding.

 

I have never heard that happening especially if the parents are reasonably well off.

 

As for the cash part, my dad always used to always give amount like 501, 1001, 2001. No idea what that 1 rupee is for and that is the custom in the Northern parts.

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Gifts to avoid for Jains- anything which avoided the death of an animal in its production, so nothing made from leather or silk. Some Jains will use objects made from leather and silk- and there is a also one type of silk which did not involve killing the silkworm. But some Jains will avoid all such objects.

Knives and scissors should be avoided as gifts- can be seen as objects for symbolically cutting-off a relationship, so definitely not what you want for a wedding!

 

In Agra, definitely visit Fatehpur Sikri. I'm sure my view doesn't reflect popular sentiment, but I actually liked it more than the Taj Mahal.

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