Monday, May 25, 2009
An Indian Wedding in Jamaica
In a previous post, I wrote about our trip to Jamaica. As mentioned in that post, the real reason we went there was that a very good friend of mine, Nick Landry, was getting married to his lovely bride (Ishani). And this was quite the get-together. One could almost start a joke that way: “A Canadian, an Indian, an Israeli, an Austrian, someone from Dubai, and an American walk into a bar…”. But that is what it was like. People from all over the place came together for this event. Most people of course were either from India (Ishani’s family and friends) or from Canada (Nick’s entourage) with a good helping of Americans or people transplanted either from or to America, mixed in.
As I mentioned in the previous post, this all took place at the Dunn’s River Sandals Resort, which turned out to be an excellent place for a wedding. This of course was a bit of a special case, as I am sure Hindu weddings are not quite the norm in Jamaica. And I have to admit, I knew nothing about Hindu weddings myself either. In fact, my knowledge about India is limited to a school project when I was about 12 years old (although this went on for half a year, so we learned a lot) and my experience with Indian software outsourcing. The later leaving me with a less than favorable impression, but the former bringing up fond memories of Indian mysteries and wonders. And as I am an enthusiastic traveler (and mesmerized by different cultures and generally fascinated by differences and change more than anything else), I have always wanted to visit India (as you can see in my bucket list). So I was looking forward to this tremendously.
And I wasn’t to be disappointed. In fact, I was quite surprised by a few things. The evening before the wedding the couple held a reception. It was really cool to see a lot of people in traditional Indian outfits (and even Nick looked good in his Indian/American fusion suit). Personally, I made the mistake of wearing a long sleeved white shirt, thinking that being used to Houston temperatures, how bad could Jamaica be? Well, it was bad, and I had to change my shirt several times. I was sweating like a horse! (How romantic…).
Anyway: The reception was a blast. I really didn’t expect the Indian culture so happy, outgoing, and welcoming outsiders. They all partied the night away. People danced, drinks were consumed, and henna tattoos applied. In that very order, which made for some interesting tattoos :-) Luckily, they were not permanent.
Ishani and Nick dancing the night away at the reception.
So this was great fun and entertaining much beyond my expectations.
The next afternoon was the day of the actual wedding. It was to be held outside. It is my understanding that this was the first Hindu wedding put on by the resort, so they had to do quite a bit of research and preparations. From what I can tell (as I am obviously no expert on Hindu weddings), they did an excellent job, and everyone seemed very happy with it.
The wedding itself was – from what I understand – a simplified or shortened version of a traditional Hindu wedding, as the traditional ceremony apparently is a lengthy affair. The way it was done here, it was all over in a few hours, which worked out really well considering the temperature and humidity level. (At some point, there was rice sprinkled over the groom, and it simply got stuck on Nick’s bald and sweaty head. It was quite the sight ;-)).
The ceremony started with the groom on “stage” by himself and the bride coming out about 10 or 15 minutes later.
Here comes the bride…
The “stage” was quite elaborate, and it gave it all a real interesting flair. And a lot of the customs and ceremonies were quite nice with a lot of symbolic character (like the mixing of 2 different colored waters the families perform, symbolizing the inseparable result).
Nick and Ishani on “stage” (for want of a better term).
After the ceremony, we headed back into the hotel (their “back yard” made for a perfect setting for the wedding) for another reception, which turned into another fun party.
Mr. and Mrs. Laundry, right after the end of the ceremony.
All in all, this was a very very nice wedding. The setting was great, and the Indian style wedding was a very festive ceremony. I am glad I got invited, and I am happy I got to see Indian culture from an angle I would otherwise probably not have had the opportunity to.
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