So during a lab meeting one of my students was talking, and the student’s brother is heading towards marriage to an East Indian woman. Though both of them live and work in the United States, any wedding would be held in India. The student’s family was told the groom would be expected to show up at the ceremony riding an elephant. It would be symbolic of, well, something. So, while the planning is going on, the big question is, well, where do you get an elephant for this procedure? Are there elephant rental agencies? Do they have an online presence? Do you just call up an Elephant Rental Agency? Honest Vijay’s Used Elephants? The family was trying to do research on this matter, starting with the internet, and going from there.
I mentioned this later to a couple of friends standing around the coffee machine, one of whom was also east Indian. As I was talking, he’s looking at me as if I’m growing a second head. Then he starts laughing. He was laughing so hard that I was worried he was going to pass out.
As it turns out, this was a different Indian tradition, not a wedding tradition, but one called “Playing a practical joke on the clueless Americans”. Evidently, if an Indian wedding is sufficiently pretentious, the groom comes in riding a horse for a short distance. But those are really fancy dos, and most folks don’t do that. Polo is big in India, again for folks that can afford to keep a horse.
I didn’t find out where you get the horse, but they’ll cross that bridge when they get to it.