Civil Marriage: Indian & Foreigner in India: Registration 85


Part 1: Civil marriage between an Indian and a foreigner in India: Notice of Intended Marriage.

 

We returned to the overcrowded registry office, it was so much busier this time around. My husband pushed his way through the crowd to get to the registrar to find our notice so they could start preparing the paper work. We had a long wait and there were no seats, it was so overcrowded we had to stand outside.

It was time for our civil marriage ceremony…

The marriages in registry offices in England are elegant, romantic attended by close family and friends. The guests are sat eagerly waiting for the bride to appear, when she does she is wearing a flowing ivory gown and holding a bunch of her favourite flowers (I am thinking pale pink roses), some of the same flowers are delicately placed in lovely styled hair. She has been waiting her whole life for this moment, she clutches the arm of her father and takes a deep breath. As they walk down the aisle together she sees the man who will soon become her husband waiting for her. Her three year old niece is walking in front of her, scattering rose petal as she goes. The couple’s favourite song is being played by a harpist accompanied by their friend from university on the violin. The room is full of flowers, flowers she had chosen herself, she spent hours choosing the perfect combinations of pink and white. The guests turn in their seats as she glides down the aisle, they gaze at the bride in delight, all beaming broadly at her. ‘She looks like an angel, simply divine’, her aunt whispers to her uncle. She finally reaches her groom, he whispers ‘wow, you look beautiful’, she blushes and looks down at the floor. ‘Are we ready?’ the registrar asks softly. The couple look lovingly into each other’s eyes and squeeze each other’s hands.

Our civil marriage ceremony was absolutely nothing like that.

We returned to the overcrowded registry office, it was so much busier this time around. My husband pushed his way through the crowd to get to the registrar to find our notice so they could start preparing the paper work. We had a long wait and there were no seats, it was so overcrowded we had to stand outside. People were running in and out, shouting to each other and waving around photocopies of documents. There were also a lot of lawyers passing through, you could tell which ones were the lawyers because they wore blazers with a special white shirt with too long white pieces of fabric hanging down from the collar. Female lawyers wore this blazer and shirt over their traditional Indian dress, Indian lawyer chic.

As my husband battled the crowds to get everything prepared I continued to wait outside with my mother-in-law. A group of eight or nine middle aged men gathered, standing in a line, their vision fixed on me, leering. Feeling exposed and uncomfortable, I tried to hide behind my mother-in-law but she is much smaller than me so it didn’t really do much good. One of them had his hand on his crotch. I wanted to run away.

Just as I thought I might start to shout at these men, my husband appeared around the door frame, his hand outstretched, beckoning me to him. Finally I squeezed into the crowded room and stood as close to my husband as physically possible (not that there was much of a choice). I was about to sign the documents but the registrar stopped me. He spoke to my husband in Marathi and my husband turned around and looked at me. ‘He says we have to wipe your sindoor off’.

My eyes filled with tears, I looked at my husband and shook my head, ‘I cannot do that’. A woman’s sindoor is wiped off when she becomes a widow, my stomach was in knots at the thought of having to do this. Unfortunately, I had to do it because the person who was about to make our marriage legal said so. The registrar said something about having to be unmarried to become married. As my eyes filled with more tears my husband used my chunni (the long scarf worn over the shoulders) to remove the red powder he had placed in my hair line only a couple of hours before. I held back the tears as I signed the marriage certificate.

The registrar ripped off two pieces of paper from some scrap paper, he wrote down the marriage vows. ‘I, Lauren… take…. to be my lawful husband’, he wrote them out for each of us and directed us to the small court room attached. We had to say theses vows three times in front of the judge. We pushed our way through the people; the court room was just as packed. I think it would be classified as a health and safety hazard if that many people were crammed into that room in England. The judge was sat higher than everyone else, behind a high barrier. She was checking documents as people barked at her from below.

As we waited people were asking my husband where I was from and why we were there. Finally the registration of a car was complete and it was our time. We pushed our way to the barrier. I looked down at the scrap of paper and suddenly realised that I could not pronounce my husband’s middle name, I panicked once again and looked up at him. ‘I cannot pronounce this properly’. It was now our turn, pressed against people we said our vows which were then translated into Marathi. After saying them three times, the judge smiled and said ‘Congratulations!’.  

This was not followed by ‘you may now kiss the bride’ as it would if we were in England. The people who we were pressed against were all smiling at us, saying ‘congratulations’ and shaking our hands. We struggled to get out of the crowded court room. We were nearly at the doorway when a lady squared up to my husband insisted we hand out sweets to celebrate the occasion.

We drove around for ages trying to find a sweet shop, when we finally found one we bought a kilogram of ladoos (a round Indian sweet) and returned to the registry office. By the time we had returned, the crowd was full of different faces. We handed out the sweets anyway and received more congratulations.

We were married… again! Phew, I am glad that is over.


About Lauren Mokasdar

Lauren fell in love on the internet, took a one way flight from England, got married & started a new life & bicultural family in India. She writes about finding happiness & balance between two very different worlds, when her baby takes a nap.


85 thoughts on “Civil Marriage: Indian & Foreigner in India: Registration

  • nepalilovestory

    Wow it sounds so hectic! Especially those horrible yucky men. Poor you 🙁 I am glad you are getting these parts done so you can truly enjoy the ceremony in April. I am so looking forward to seeing this post! God bless you both.

      • nepalilovestory

        oh gosh that is true! haha scary! Still got a bit of time yet 😛
        For now, I am quite enjoying being a spectator of your wedding! Gives me something to smile about each day.
        Love! 🙂

      • mitesh

        I merried with thai lady in india ..bt now i want to stay with her for longtime or forever in india…so wht i do process for this…plss tellme….i m waiting for ur rly..plaa

  • MiaMusings

    Congratulations!!! Yes any govt office in india can be very intimidating for first timers..especially if your not an Indian! And crowded goes without saying. We are the world’s second most populous after all! Havjn said that, there is no excuse for not being able to improve these essential services and definitely no excuse for the men to behave like they did. Apologies on behalf of my fellow indians that you had to go through this. As proud as I am to be an indian, these are the things that pull us down.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Thank you so much!!
      I am slowly getting used to the crowds, its just the staring of the crowds which is the hard part (I just that is a wedding preparation in itself 🙂 )

      It isn’t just India though, there is plenty of crotch holding on the streets of England nowadays.

      I hope everything is fine in SA.

      Lots of love x

      • Nicola

        Plenty of crotch holding on the streets of England nowadays? Really?? (And there was me thinking Bath was such a refined sort of place.)

      • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

        As Ellen has said, perverts are all over the world.

        Bath is a beautiful and refined city but you go to any large town or city in England on a Friday or Saturday night, you can even see people holding each others crotches.

        What country are you from, Nicola?

        I hope you are well

        Lauren

      • Nicola

        Hi Lauren,
        This is in the wrong place, should be three spaces down, in response to your comment to me, but this is the nearest reply button…
        In answer to your question, I’m from England!

  • Siva

    Dear Lauren,
    First of all CONGRATULATIONS and I’m really sorry for you and ashamed because of those f***** perverts
    I’m from Southern India and I never heard or experienced such kind of situation here. Any way let it go and try to plan for a Hindu marriage ceremony in India if it’s possible. It’s a lifetime opportunity don’t miss it.
    Take care.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Siva,

      Thank you so much, lovely to hear from you.
      Yes, it was an unfortunately way to spend one of my wedding days.

      I know that the Hindu wedding will be absolutely magical!! We are having it next month. I wasn’t going to miss out on that. (leaving to go wedding shopping in an hour!)

      I hope you are well and thank you so much for stopping by.

      Lauren x

  • Gopal Sekhar

    Hi first of all let me appologies to you on behalf of the men present in Nagpur, it is shamefully of them to do this,but I assure you India is fascinating place and you will enjoy your life here, Your comparison of English wedding was like seeing a Jane Austin novel like pride and prejudice. I wish you both a happy married life, you thoroughly enjoy the wedding.

    • Gopal Sekhar

      Hi thank for the reply, I wating for your new post, you must be reAly busy, yesterday in our local newspaper there was new about a couple, they were married in temple, he was from Kerala. And bride is from chile, I thought of you and your husband. So how is the perpetrating going, hey can I ask you personal question, yesterday while visiting my friends house, I saw there maid getting oil to his mother room, when I equirred it was giving a massage, do your mother I law do the same, I don’t understand, do she get massage from her maid.
      Don’t fell angery with me, I am sorry.

      Gopal

  • Kelli

    Oh my goodness that sounds so stressful! It sounds a lot like getting my daughter’s birth certificate in Guatemala- it rather makes you long for queues and the like. I enjoyed reading your story and congratulations!!

  • Keaton

    Firstly Congrats and sorry that you had to go through such an ordeal. Govt offices can be quite intimidating for us Indians and i can only imagine how horrible it must be for foreigners. Nagpur being a tier -2 city makes it even worse, the govt offices can easily be ancient. All the govt offices in Indian have been going under massive transformations and slowly but surely the offices will be renovated. If we are lucky, could be in our lifetime. Then the govt offices will be a little less stressful.

    The starring part is just wrong and unfortunately cannot be dealt with easily which deeply worries and concerns me. It’s just cheap and it doesn’t throw India in good light in the eyes of visiting foreigners, who just take back that all Indians are perverts when in reality not all are. I’m sorry and it greatly saddens me to have to say this but It happens everywhere in India less so in the cities but it still does happen and you’ll probably have to live with it. It’s just because of India’s fascination towards the light coloured. They are exotic here. I was in a similar situation in china, where i was constantly starred at and even asked for photos. They din’t care much about the whites just the brown coloured. I guess its human nature to stare at something that is new, but i hope the street men in India realize soon enough that that is both wrong and indecent.

    I wish your future encounters with govt officials are a lot less stressful. The part where you had tears for being asked to wipe away your sindoor shows how deeply you love your man. Lucky guy!

    Be well!

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Keaton,

      I hope you are well and thank you so much for your comment! In England there are people of every single race all over the place but countries like India it is unusual to see a foreigner (especially villages and cities like Nagpur, off the tourist track).

      I think a lot of the time curiosity is mistaken for perversion.
      I hope you are well!! Take care

      Lauren

  • aida

    Congratulations!!!! it sounds like an experience! you are lucky they allowed you to get married!!! when me and my husband filed the documents in Ahmedabad a million silly reasons and excuses came up from the registry officers not allowing us to get married, that we ended giving up and we got legally married in australia!
    I know how intimidated you must feel from the staring, i feel the same way when i am in India as well. On one ocassion i was by myself, someone asked for my picture with him and i (innocently) agreed, two seconds later i was surrounded by dozens of men with their cameras trying to get their hands on my shoulder and taking pictures!!! That just felt really bad!!!

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Aida,

      I am so sorry to hear about your awful experience!! I have heard from a couple couples with a similar experience, finding it difficult to get married. It is such a shame.

      Oh gosh, I cannot imagine how that must have felt. It is the curse of the camera phone, now most people have a camera at their constant disposal.

      I am so glad you got your legal marriage sorted, even if you had to go back to Australia to do it (wow, I cannot believe it).

      Best wishes to you and your husband. I hope you are both well.

      Lauren

    • Magdalena Rogulska-Pai

      Actually You should never agree for a photo with a man in India. Indian man who respects other women will never ask or take a photo. I would not want my face to be put on some Indian boys facebook saying I’m his girlfriend. You will never know where your face is going to be put online. He would never ask you if you were Indian girl. I never agree for any photos. You can consider to say yes if some family asks or some girls. To survive in India you sometimes have to be rude and you mustn’t show weakness as someone will take advantage of it.

  • Nicola

    Seeing as the topic of how men behave towards white women on the streets of India has arisen here, I just wanted to offer my own experience. I have read numerous accounts of women of all ages being groped, leered at, masturbated over and raped. In fact, there seems to be so much of it occurring that it could almost be regarded as the norm, to be expected, an inevitability in India. I have also read reports by couples, whose experience was that the woman was okay as long as her boyfriend was with her, but on the one occasion when she was on her own in the streets for just five minutes she was immediately subjected to disgusting behaviour by random men. I only read all this stuff AFTER I, myself, had been in India. Had I read it before, I’m not sure I would have wanted to go. My experience while I was there? I wasn’t on my own for five minutes, I was on my own for five whole days – in Jodhpur (in the old city) in Rajasthan…. wandering around the streets, alone, for five days… during daylight and also when it was dark. Alone, sometimes lost, and obviously so. Often the only woman in sight. And what happened to me? Absolutely nothing.

    When I say nothing, I mean nothing bad. There were plenty of heartwarming encounters with women, children and men. Smiles and laughter shared, even when we didn’t share a common language. I was approached, yes, by a man in a badly lit back street when there was no-one else around. He had been crouching on his haunches, watching me as I walked in his direction before turning to head back the way I had come. He had realised I was lost. I got the little card with the address of my homestay accommodation out of my bag (it was in Hindi as well as English). And this man flagged down a motorcycle and got the pillion rider to walk me to where I needed to go. I know this sort of thing is probably not rare, but we don’t often hear about it. Only the bad stuff makes the news.

    So yes, horrible things do happen to women in India, and far too often. But India is far from being a land full of perverts where no woman is safe.

    I do appreciate why some Indian men would want to apologise for the behaviour of some of their countrymen. But please know that my own experience of the men I encountered in India was that they did their country proud.

    • Keaton

      Two words for you Nicola, Thank you! Relieved at hearing one happy story after many horrific ones. The way you started off your post got me a little tensed but the way you twisted it and ended it left me in delight! Great! So when is your next trip to India? haha

      Take care

      • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

        I agree, India is definitely not a land full of perverts where no woman is safe but unfortunately there are men that have no shame. I am so glad that you didn’t experience want many Western woman have experienced, and I am certain they were shown kindness also but as you said, usually the negative is highlighted as a warning to others.

        To be honest, I have had worse harassment on the streets in Ghana and Tanzania, must worse

        I hope throughout my blog I have shown that India can be a safe place for woman and I am happy here but I cannot gloss over the unfortunate truths, otherwise I am not being truthful about my experiences. I owe that to my lovely readers.

        Take care

        Lauren x

    • Nicola

      Hi Lauren,

      Just wanted to say, I felt compelled to write what I did because so many Indian people were leaving comments where they were apologising for the behaviour of those men. My line “India is far from being a land full of perverts where no woman is safe” was a reference to something Keaton had said (paragraph 2, second sentence), and to the extensive media coverage with headlines such as “India, no place for a woman” that have proliferated since the Delhi gang rape came to global attention. I certainly wasn’t suggesting that your blog implied that, and I’m sorry if you gained that impression.

      Warm regards,

      Nicola xx

      • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

        Dear Nicola,

        That media coverage also saddens me. Awful things happen to woman in every country but the Delhi incident was particularly horrific!!

        It is great to hear positive things always, I hope when you return to India you can tell us a lot more stories!!

        Lauren x

    • Bk

      Hello all, firstly I ended up on this page looking for some advice reg Indians marrying foreigners. The safety issues and problems faced by foreigners being discussed here are very real,imo. I’m a student of Astrology and I frequent ashrams where I meet foreigners who have told of similar problems.some clients n friend I interacted online also expressed similar views.

      But most visited tourist cities like Goa, Jodhpur must be relatively safe. I’ve seen people roam about freely at late night in Goa. My idea is educated men tend to be mild mannered n the less educated see lone women in a different light , maybe.

      But my opinion is it still isn’t safe for any lady,local or foreign, to go around in India at night.sorry that this the reality here n hope things change for the better.

      But congrats then Lauren on your wedding.have u got Ur PR now to live in India. Any posts on that. I’ll check , thanks

  • stockdalewolfe

    Perverts all over the world, plenty here in New York City to be sure. How many times does it happen that you get felt up on a crowded subway!! In any case, sorry about that, glad it is over. Is that when you had your picture taken? Would make sense. I can’t wait for the Hindu wedding ceremony and can’t wait to hear about your dress.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Ellen,

      I had a dream about NYC the other night, thought of you after I woke up. I have bought all my wedding outfits now!! I cannot wait to be able to show you all in the wedding pictures (I am creating the suspense haha!).

      I hope you and your ankle are feeling better! Lots of love,
      Lauren x

      • Nicola

        Oh, no! We’ve got to wait until the wedding photos to see the outfits!!! I’ve been logging on like mad ever since you mentioned that you were going shopping for wedding items the following day! (I’d love to read a blog about your experience of buying them. Perhaps you could write one, and then post it after the wedding?) ….And I’ve never been into weddings, or interested in dresses, and would have described myself as not having a single romantic bone in my body…. until I started following your blog! Seriously, I’m not joking. I know everyone says India is transformational (and yes, I found it to be so), but evidently so is reading your India blog!

        Lots of love,
        Nicola xx

        Ps. Couldn’t we just see a photo of some sparkly bangles or something? A few little items, without actually showing us the dress?!! I don’t think I can wait until next month! (And I can’t quite believe it’s me who’s saying this!!)

        • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

          Dear Nicola,

          I hope you are well!! I am half way through writing about my shopping trip (and it does include photographs of some of the items we saw!) .

          Thank you so much for your kind words!! I am overwhelmed with gratitude, I am so happy that people like you enjoy my blog so much!!

          I will write in depth posts about my sarees and dress after the wedding! I hope you are well!

          Take care

          Lauren x

      • stockdalewolfe

        Can’t wait. Yes, you are creating much suspense! Ha! Thank you, slowly the ankle is getting better. It will be 2 months if I don’t need surgery which I am really hoping I don’t. Bought some Ayurvedic – Balm with lots of oils, Frankincense and Eucalyptus etc. that is good for the joints. It feels dreamy. Lots of love back to you, and good luck with the little annoyances, xx Ellen

        On Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 2:44 AM, English Wife, Indian Life wrote:

        > Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life) commented: “Dear Ellen, I had a > dream about NYC the other night, thought of you after I woke up. I have > bought all my wedding outfits now!! I cannot wait to be able to show you > all in the wedding pictures (I am creating the suspense haha!). I hope you > and your ” >

  • Cyn

    That marriage registrar guy applied a nasty abuse of power in you, just saying, there are no laws saying you should remove indoor before registering the marriage. In India religion and state are in theory separated and people have religious ceremonies before registering them, then you are free to register them under whatever act you want and fits you. Interracial ones get filed under special act, but many have a religious ceremony before. The picture on my certificate has me wearing a bindi and I was still wearing a indoor when we registered it, no one asked me to rub it off or cared, heck I think the registrar commented that I looked good with a bindi and wondered why I was not wearing one that day.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Cyn,

      Lovely to hear from you. I think you are right, in hindsight it was just malicious, there was really no need for him to make me do that…but we didn’t want him to use it as an excuse to not let us proceed.

      I am making sure I wear a little extra sindoor after that experience.

      I hope you are well!

      Lauren x

  • Christina Dunya

    Congratulations! 🙂 I’m so looking forward to hear more about your wedding preporations and India of course. Men can be so disgusting, next time someone does that just give them a evil stare. Men are very scared of fearless women! 🙂 It works out alright here in Norway,haha 🙂

    • Tushar

      First of all,i feel very sorry for the trouble you got over there.don’t know when these jerk are going to live like “human being”.
      By the way, Congratulations for marriage.looking forward to your typical MAHARASHTRIAN wedding. Which type of SARI you would like to put on for your marriage.?

  • Tushar

    I am extremely sorry for the trouble you got over there.don’t know when these j**** are going to live like “Human Being”.
    By the way, congratulation for marriage.Looking forward for typical “MAHARASHTRIAN WEDDING”.

  • Ms.Z.

    Congratulations! And, at the same time, it all sounds excruciating. We had to go through the same thing here in Nepal, so I know how you felt. Something that’s supposed to be one of the best days of your life, becomes a long and tiring day of unnecessary bureaucracy.

  • madhmama

    Love this description! Totally wasn’t surprised about the no-kissing part….only in privacy, yaar! 😀
    Totally gross about those weird guys, be careful. Next time, scream at them and ask them what the f* they are looking at. I understand you wouldn’t want to scream though, on your wedding day, lol!

      • Nicola

        How many people are going over from England for your wedding? Will it be a five-day event (seem to remember you saying that somewhere on your blog)? …This is exciting stuff!! So glad I came across your blog.

      • Nicola

        I presume your marriage ceremony will be conducted in Marathi or Hindi. Will there be someone with your parents who is able to simultaneously translate/interpret into English, so that they can follow what’s going on?
        And do the parents of the bride have a role in the wedding (I’m thinking of an equivalent of the father giving the daughter away)?
        Sorry to bombard you with questions! It’s just so interesting!!

  • thelosperspective

    What an experience to go through all of this! The only thing that bothered me was having to visualize the middle-aged creeps who ruin a moment. No worries, though, they are nobodies who live their life for no one. Congratulations, once again, and sorry about the sindoor experience! : That must have felt awful.

  • Ajit Joshi Mumbai

    Maharashtrian women traditionally do not apply sindoor. My mom 85 and married for 65 years to my Dad 90 years thinks sindoor is so North Indian thing. However she wears Mangalsutra and bindi.

    • Lauren (English Wife, Indian Life)

      Dear Ajit,

      Yes, my mother-in-law doesn’t wear it either but then again, I am not exactly Maharashtrian myself. My husband applied it on the day we were married and since then I do not like to be without it!

      I hope you are well! God bless you and your parents!

      Lauren

  • Crystal (My Hindi Heart)

    Ohh Lauren. :O I would be a bit devastated if I had to wipe my sindoor off. If I were in your position, of course. You are strong.
    That sounds like a really uncomfortable experience, but I’m still just so happy for you. ^_^ The excitement grows!

  • Varzil Victor Manda

    I felt very much interesting while reading about an Indian traditional marriage from a British Lady (Indian of course) with typical examples and descriptions. Keep rocking

  • Rita Khanna

    I cannot imagine your emotions when you were asked to remove sindoor. Years come to my eyes thinking about. I can see your love by the way you look at him. Am glad you pulled it through.

  • Deb

    I am shocked, angry and sad to see how marriage registrar asked to wipe sindur off !!! It’s so stupid formality ((

  • Deb

    i found it very rude and stupid that registrar asked you to wipe it off since the documents itself are proof that you are unmarried and just getting married. Mere red colour sindur on head can’t allow him to stop you from signing. He must be one of those frustrated religious idiots !!! Sorry but I can’t control my anger over him.

  • Deb

    People should know that there is no law in India which states that sindur is must for valid marriage or sindur means a person is married.

  • Sasha

    Hey lauren, i just found this blog of yours, i hope you’re still writing or at least reading this. Im from the Philippines and i met my husband in dubai. We’re both christian and we’ve only done the civil marriage part (so unceremoniously). You’re on point about the process just that you were at a better place in india i guess, ( we live in vadodara, gujarat ) the ‘court office’ looked more like a shanty marketplace and the whole thing actually makes you feel like crushing your wedding dreams from middle school. Everyone was staring at me and it was the most uncomfortable thing ever. We’re yet to do our church wedding in march of 2017 because we both agreed that what we only signed a bunch of papers and did not feel like we got married at all.

    I have a question though, are we still considered foreign? I have a multiple entry x-visa that needs to be renewed every year.

    • Lauren Mokasdar Post author

      Hi Sasha! Congrats! It’s a bit of a shock isnt it, I hope you have a beautiful church marriage. You can apply for an OCI after 2 years of marriage. Then you will be considered an overseas citizen of India x

      • Sasha

        Thank you!! It is, until now i havent perfectly blended in but at least everythingms comfortable. Thanks for the tip too. A year and a half to go for an OCI then. ♥️♥️

  • Harish

    While that does not sound like a wedding you might have imagine, it sounds romantic. I came across this as my friend asked me to search about the rules. She is a Vietnamese and I’m an India.

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