Today was the actual wedding day. That involved a series of events beginning in the morning and culminating with the wedding late in the afternoon. Dinner would follow but the formal reception is tomorrow evening.
We woke with the sun around 7:00 am and found our way to breakfast around 8:00 am. In addition to the familiar fruit, cereal, yoghurt, toast, pastries, and more there were a variety of unfamiliar dishes. I tried one round ball that looked like deep fried batter but was a fried puff filled with small savoury pieces. It was tasty but not hot.
The first event of the day was the bride’s turmeric ceremony which was scheduled for 9:00 am in a location at the far side of the resort. Majella had brought a yellow outfit for the event – advised because of the turmeric – but I made do with a pair of trousers and a shirt, saving my best outfit for the wedding this evening. We strolled across and arrived just after 9:00 am but we need not have hurried because nothing happened for about an hour.
We had seen Shruti at breakfast when she had told us that she was wearing her mother’s wedding sari for the first part of the ceremony. She planned to change before the turmeric was applied so as not to risk staining it.
The venue was another outdoor ‘arena’ with a canopy of ribbons above to provide a little shade and a battery of large fan devices that, judging by the air flowing from them, may have had some evaporative cooling. I had taken the precaution of wearing my leather hat – national dress – but did not need it in the event space.
By a little after 10:00 am it seemed enough people had gathered to justify a start. A Hindu priest and assistant took to the stage with two couples who we were told later were selected by the bride’s parents to participate in the blessing ceremony. It went on for rather more than 30 minutes with what appeared to be prayers and much symbolic placing of garlands around necks, strings around couples, and sashes. There were also multiple sprinklings, spooning, and pouring of materials into bowls or onto platters and some waving of green leaves.
Eventually they were ready for the bride. Shruti appeared in another sari with colours much better suited to the turmeric ceremony. After being presented to the crowd she took her place on the stage ready for the application of turmeric.
Turmeric was first applied by parents and the two couples who had been in the blessing ceremony. Once they had done their bit it was open to others to participate. Many did and Shruti was well plastered with yellow turmeric paste.
After the turmeric painting a group of the women gathered under a nearby tree and then processed back. The leader carried a platter with some symbolic objects for presentation to Shruti.
We chatted with Laura and some other friends for a while before heading back to the far end of the resort where John’s turmeric ceremony was scheduled for 11:30 am. It was just past that by the time we arrived, having paused briefly at our room on the way. Nothing happened for a while and I had time to walk back to Reception to ask for assistance with accessing our room because I had left the key behind on our short pit stop. I was back with a fresh key well before the action began.
The Hindu priest arrived with the turmeric and the young men from Shruti’s side who were required to issue the formal invitation to John to attend the wedding. The priest explained a little of the ceremony and then set about simple preparations – the blessings from earlier must have been carried in the turmeric. John was asked to sit and Laura applied the first bit of turmeric.
John had been a bit concerned about potential skin stains and had taken precautions with moisturiser and some stubble. That did not stop him getting a good plastering of turmeric from all who cared to apply some. Whether he was prepared for the grand finale we don’t know. Clancy and a couple of John’s ‘friends’ stood behind him and poured several litres of turmeric slurry through a sieve over his head. He finished yellow from head to toe. The idea of the turmeric is to reduce tension and stress for the young couple. I’m not sure it had that effect for John.
Lunch was back at the morning venue so we walked across the resort again to enjoy another meal of salads, rice, vegetable curries, noodles and more, followed by ice cream, chocolate mousse, and a mango and yoghurt dish.
The first afternoon event was scheduled for 3:30 pm so we went back to our rooms to relax. Majella went out to the room where there were assistants to help with donning her sari for the evening before returning to rest a while.
Soon after Majella returned I dressed in my gold kurta and added her purple scarf for colour. At 3:30 pm we went down to the area by the infinity pool for what was listed as ‘high tea’. There was tea, coffee, biscuits, and nibbles but most importantly there was turban wrapping for the men. I had my head wrapped quickly and tightly in metres of light green patterned fabric. That completed my outfit for the wedding.
Next event was to be John’s grand entrance at 4:30 pm followed by the wedding ceremony at 6:30 pm. Just after 4:30 pm people began to move out toward where we thought John would be making his entrance. We were greeted by loud music from a truck on which there was a large generator driving a huge bank of speakers and some bright lights. The music was so loud that we felt it more than heard it as it caused clothing and bodies to vibrate. I could feel the air moving with the speaker diaphragm and wondered if the music might be forceful enough to replace CPR.
We had heard that John had forgone the traditional elephant because he believed riding them was cruel. We had been told he would use a horse but instead there was a small decorated tractor. We endured the loud music for 15 minutes or more before John appeared to mount his tractor amid cheers and dancing accompanied by the loud music.
The procession around the corner and down the drive to the wedding venue about 200 metres away lasted about an hour. It was a stop and start, mostly stop, process with constant loud music and dancing, both free form and bursts of our choreographed routines. Periodically the guys on the truck presented John, Laura, Aimee, or Clancy with a carbon dioxide gun that sprayed a jet of cold gas, presumably from a supply of dry ice, that caused condensation and a few snowflakes. Mostly it was pointed in the air but occasionally a few in the crowd enjoyed a cold blast.
As we reached the wedding venue Shruti’s family came out to greet John and his family. That was accompanied by multiple blasts of coloured paper pieces from a pair of pneumatic cannons.
Eventually those other than immediate family were encouraged to take a seat. The ceremony space was in the open air. At 6:30 pm no cover from the sun was needed but they must have been very confident of dry weather. The front four rows of seating were lounges and we managed to score one of those. The raised stage had a canopy festooned with strings of flowers and lights. There were tiered benches on either side for important guests.
Once we were seated the ceremony conducted by the Hindu priest began with a procession in which Shruti’s parents brought John to the stage. There were several steps to be completed by Shruti’s parents with John before Aimee and two others raised a curtain to hide John while Shruti processed in.
There were more steps before John and Shruti could see each other. After another hour or so of colourful and interesting ceremonies they were finally married.
By that time it was almost 8:00 pm and we had been at it for more than four hours. It was dinner time and guests were directed to the nearby lawn where there were tables and chairs and a buffet dinner. The offerings included Mexican, soups, curries or other vegetarian dishes with rice, and desserts including ice cream and local treats. Nobody went hungry.
Nobody that is except John and Shruti who had been fasting all day. Around 8:45 pm, at Clancy’s request, we went back to the ceremony area for a group photo. John and Shruti were on the stage greeting small groups of guests and having photos with them. That went on until almost 10 pm at which time John and Shruti got away, hopefully to eat. The photographers also disappeared so our group photo did not happen.
We waited there for a while until there was some action in the dining area when we went to look. We missed whatever it was and then found our way back to the ceremony area when the priest was ready to begin his ‘games’. that involved untying knots on strings around the wrists of the bride and groom and some other activity that we could not see for photographers.
After a few more prayers and blessings it was time for the bride and groom to leave so we all lined the path as Shruti made her way down the long line of family she was leaving to join the Ryan family. At the end of the path there was another blessing of the bride and groom and then of the golf cart that whisked them away. It was well past 11:00 pm by then and time for bed.