Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Tamil wedding

This weekend I was in London for my friend's Tamil wedding. The wedding was over 2 days, with the ceremony and dinner on Saturday and the reception on Sunday. I've never bee to a Tamil wedding before, it was quite different from the western ones that I've been to. 

The wedding and decorations were beautiful, the bride and groom were beautiful and the guests were very pretty,I wish I owned a sari! I also really wish I had a digital SLR as the pictures would have turned out heaps better.
One thing I found really strange was how little attention people paid the ceremony. The ceremony was going on for a few hours and people were just walking around and chatting to each other and showing up when they felt like it. At the same time that was quite nice... Not having to sit still and quiet on an uncomfortable church bench for hours was really nice. I do wish I understood what was going on in the ceremony though, why they did the things they did and what the things meant etc. I should have sat down next to someone that could have explained it all to me! 
First the groom and my friend, the bride's, brother sat down together for an hour and had to do some things. Then my friend walked in with the groom's sister (and loads of other ladies) and she sat down next to the groom and they had to do some things to do with the ceremony. Then someone walked around with a sari that the guests had to bless, someone told me it was a sari from the groom's family, so I'm guessing we all had to bless it to kind of bless the union between them or something. Then my friend changed into that sari while her brother sat with the groom again while they waited.

When my friend came back there was some more ceremonial stuff and the groom gave her a necklace and at the end all the guests went up to where they were sitting and blessed them by putting some rice with some spice in it, turmeric I think, on their arms, shoulders and heads three times each. When they did that they also gave the couple gifts, but unlike most western weddings there wasn't many presents but more money gifts, which is a good way of doing it really, so that that way the couple can buy whatever they want and need instead of getting 50 coffee cans, AND it's easier to transport!

During the ceremony, and at the reception on Sunday, I sat on a table with some other Norwegians, it was nice since I didn't really know anyone in the wedding but it was a bit confusing at times to have to change so quickly between Norwegian and English. I also sat next to one of the groom's friends (hence the quick change between Norwegian and English) who was very nice, although I didn't think he was nice in the way that the groom wished I'd found him, haha!

On Saturday they only served vegetarian food, which was great as it meant I didn't have to ask what was in the food, I could just eat everything! Someone said it was because the priest was there and someone said that it was because it was the first day of the wedding that the food had to be vegetarian, I don't care, I could eat it and it was really yummy which was great. It was also great to get to taste so much new food! We also got snacks during the ceremony which was quite cool. I'm not really sure what the snacks was or the food or the desserts, or the strange thing we got for after dessert, but, with the exception of the thing wrapped in a leaf for after the dessert, it was all really tasty.

On Sunday at the reception my friend wore a third sari, apparently it's always supposed to be three saris in the wedding, although I don't know why. After we had some starters (more new food to try!) my friend's brother held a lovely speech and had made a video montage of the bride and groom, both were beautiful and really touching.Then the newly weds cut the cake and exchanged rings before we had some dinner. Sunday it was both vegetarian and food with meat, I can't speak for the food with meat but the vegetarian options were delicious and I got to try even more new food! I want to go to Sri Lanka now just to taste some more of the food!

While we ate the dancing started. Unlike the western weddings that I've been to the wedding couple didn't start the dancing but someone called up the names to two people that then had to dance, this went on for a few songs before everyone got on the dance floor. I have to say everyone was a much better dancer than me (so I was unbelievable happy that I didn't get called up for the "couple" dancing!), and it was so fun that it wasn't just waltzing and those dances, everyone really went all out. Also unlike the western weddings that I've been to people weren't reluctant to get up on the dance floor, you almost had to fight for a spot on it! It was so much fun, I wish I had stayed longer, but I had to get up at 4am the next morning to get my flight so I thought I should at least get a couple of hours sleep. Although, in hindsight, I probably would have been less tired if I had just stayed up all night and gone to the airport straight from the reception, only stopping to get my bag and check out of the hostel.

Before this weekend I hadn't seen my friend in about 10 years!! It was really great seeing her again even though of course we didn't get to talk that much, I really hope it won't be that long until next time! I will really try harder now to get to see her more often, it should at least be slightly easier anyway now that I live in Oslo.

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