Yesterday we went to an Indian friend’s 60th birthday. My goodness, they know how to put on a party! The women all arrived togged up in the most gorgeous saris, or shalwar kameez, covered in glittering patterns. They were beautifully made up with kohl round lustrous dark eyes, and dark hair either long and loose or fastened up with decorations. Very blingy earrings and necklaces – absolutely stunning! Where did we go wrong in this country, I wonder, that our clothes etc are all so boring???
The men were very smart in suits, colourful shirts and ties. The room was decorated with helium-filled balloons, with decorations on the walls of photos of our friend’s life and banners and streamers. All the tables laid with white cloths, napkins, flowers, and nibbles. Waiter service brought drinks around on a regular basis. Live DJ and disco lights. All sparkly and technicolour.
Then the birthday girl arrived, and was greeted by drumming and a trumpet, singing and whistling and clapping. It was like the arrival of a queen! She was escorted upstairs and the music went on, and the women in the family started dancing.
Then she and her husband sat down in front of a huge cake with candles, which were blown out by the
grandson, and they all fed each other bits of cake. We lined up to give her a hug and kiss and a present or card, then we were fed delicious curries.
Now that’s what I call a party.
But here’s the thing. Our friend is a keen Christian and used to come to church regularly. Her husband is Hindu. About 18 months ago he forbade her absolutely to come to church, and she is not allowed to see her Christian friends either. She finds this all very hard, but took the brave decision to respect his wishes although she has his agreement to practise her faith privately.
Their son, also a Christian, had invited us to this party. He had also asked Hub to open the proceedings with a Christian prayer. Because of the rage against Christians of our friend’s husband in the past, Hub was very worried about the wisdom of this. We certainly did some praying and discussion in advance! – and their daughter also confessed to us that she was very anxious about it and had been praying all night.
Anyway, the moment came, and off Hub went to the mike, stopping first to shake friend’s husband by the hand. He got quite a warm handshake, which heartened him, so he went for it.
We had already been through worst-case scenario – that we would be asked to leave, and the party ruined for our friend.
But mercifully – all was well. There was no adverse reaction, and as their son said to us quietly before we left, ‘let’s hope this is a step forward.’
I think we all saw it as an answer to prayer, and we’re hoping that God will prise the door open a little bit more so that our friend can emerge from her ‘prison’.