The Wedding was Elaborate, but the Shahs had Prepared for Years

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: When Mahesh and Alpa Shah started to plan out their daughter Mosum’s wedding to Umang Jain, they didn’t really have to look too far. They already knew the venues across the metropolitan area, could plan out the menus in their sleep, knew all the major wedding planners and were close to the vendors for party items. They already trusted their favorite DJ – Yogi G – to handle all the music and sound for the event.

“Still, it was a great deal of constant work for 6 months”, recalled Alpa, “because we kept adding people and programs to what turned out to be a four-day wedding event”. And since they are co-owners of the 30 year-old Madras Pavilion restaurant – renamed Indian Summer two years ago – along with Rajan Radhakrishnan, they had the experience to pull off a huge event. After all, they were the ones chosen to serve lunch to thousands when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the city for the “Howdy Modi” event at the NRG stadium in September 2019.

But when its your daughter, things can get quite elaborate very quickly. Before too long, there was a mehndi planned for 175 guests in the well-lit backyard by the side of the lake at the Shah residence in New Territory. There was music, mehndi painting artists, and delicious food cooked on tavas and in a tandoor, all creating a lively evening. This was just the beginning of the feasts whose menus were master planned for four days by Mahesh and Alpa. And helping them in planning every detail was event planner Rathi Menon.

The next day, the Pithi ritual was carried out at the roof-top Texas lazy river and pool of the downtown Marriott Marquis Hotel, within sight and across Discovery Park from the Hilton Americas where the wedding reception was to take place. The bride and groom were seated on a low bajat and a paste of turmeric, sandalwood, rosewater and herbs was applied on their faces and palms. The merriment continued as the bride and groom were plunged into the pool by their friends.

That evening the sangeet was held at the Marquis, decorated lavishly by Dipti of Mandap Creations with a rickshaw as a centerdrop for photos opps. Both sides of the families did the garba, raas and Sanedo folk dances, to the accompaniment of singing by Sushila Patel and Hemant Bhavsar with Darshak Thakkar on drums. Lined around the Grand Ballroom were many food “stalls” named Kuch Khichdi Hai, Bhel Baja Baarat, Desi Takos, Chandani Chowk to China,  Hum Chaat Hai, Garvi Gujarat and many more. The juice counter served Aam panna, Guava Juice and Mix Berries infused with jalapeños.

The next day, March 12, the venue shifted to Chateau Cocomar, a 37,000 square foot French-Inspired estate tucked away privately in a forested corner of Champions Forest.  There, the mandap was set up outdoors in the forest. The baratis arrived at 11am with the groom in a convertible Rolls Royce, and all the groomsmen and brides aid danced energetically to the dholl and Bollywood music. Carbon dioxide cannisters were blasted off as Mosum was carried in in a Palki for the wedding that ended at 2:30pm. After the ceremony, the guests were treated to a sumptuous Gujarati and Rajasthani lunch.

The reception that night was at the Hilton Americas where the Dawat Catering crew, led by Rajan Radhakrishnan and Mahesh Shah have served so many occasions that they are almost part of the hotel! This time, Rajan placed his full attention on the arrangements made over countless days. There were several stalls serving sushi, paneer, Italian liquid pizza, khichu-khow suey, and 20 other hors d’ouvres in the large lobby and a guest list of over 700 who were truly amazed.

Dipti with Mandap Creations turned the Grand Ballroom into a veritable white rose garden with a water fountain and crystal decorative pieces. A giant LED screen at the center and large screens at two corners allowed guests to view all the action and entertainment. The wedding party pranced onto the floor and as the newlyweds came in, indoor fireworks electrified the moment as they danced their entry number.

As guests listened to speeches by the parents, siblings and best friends, dinner was served at the tables in three courses thalis of North India, Asian and South Indian food, “something that had never been done before”, remarked Rajan, who organized the food service and supervised in exhaustive detail every minute of the reception for a whole week.

The food was meticulously prepared head chefs Sibin and Sathiyaraj and their team from Dawat Catering and Indian Summer restaurant while Shakab and Keshvan managed the food arrangement. For dessert, there was a special treat performance honoring the Shahs as the Executive Chefs of Hilton Americas made Fire and Ice, smashing huge balls of chocolate on a block of ice and then setting it on fire!

When Umang Met Mosum, it was Love at First SIght

Their first date was at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba in Chicago in October 2016, where Umang and Mosum realized they had a special spark between them. During Chicago’s freezing winter, they spent lots of time together at Old Town restaurants, dance clubs and university (him at Northwestern, her at UChicago) hubs.

Umang moved to Philadelphia for residency at UPenn and Mosum joined him and earned her MBA at Wharton. In November 2020, Umang took Mosum for a walk along historic Addison Street where he had cleverly tied envelopes in the trees which Mosum had to open, with the final one popping the question that Mosum said “yes” to.

Thrilled to be finally married, the happy newlyweds went on a honeymoon to Guatemala.