And so here we are on the morning of 26th August 2010, D-day for Vinod & Liza…and of course, it’s raining…not just a light shower in passing, no, this is ‘have to get the umbrella out while cursing the weather’ kind of rain! Uh huh! ‘Coz even the Heavens cannot contain their happiness! Well be that as it may, makes me kind of anxious about the photography session scheduled for the morning (which to all of you that are wondering, I found out later, went off without any major glitches).
We have more of those excellent Idlis for breakfast and are soon all decked up (Well I am! sort of ;-)), and ready to leave. Luckily an auto is close at hand and the hotel security guard, escorts me to it, sheltered under his large umbrella 🙂 The Church is just 10 minutes away and we arrive early, before the bridal party.
We mill around, making small talk with a few people we met yesterday at the house. I love that there is no garish display of gold by the women, in this gold-loving state! They are soberly dressed and indeed in Goa, nobody would ever guess they were gathered for a wedding 😉 Many of the men are in traditional mundus. I’m looking forward to the ceremony. I have wonderful memories from Beena’s marriage, of a short and sweet, musical ceremony, and I’ve carried those haunting notes with me ever since!
The rain eases and the crowd begins to build up as Uncle and Aunty arrive. Vinod follows accompanied by his 3 sisters and closely followed by his bride 🙂 I catch a glimpse of her as she alights from the car and I like what I see 🙂 She is shyly smiling and gorgeous…her cream bridal saree shimmering and the diamonds she wears catching the light that’s beginning to filter through the clouds! The bridal bouquet adds just the right touch of color 🙂
We enter the church and find seats in the family area. It’s quite large and in the pews we find a little booklet that describes the ceremony. Unfortunately it’s in Malyalam! Still, I slip mine into my purse as a souvenir. Almost immediately the music begins and the wedding party begins their slow march down the aisle. The page boys lead the way, followed by Vinod with Uncle and Aunty and the sisters follow with their hubbies. I watch Beena walk down the aisle with Biju and my eyes fill up…it’s a moment…you know what I mean 🙂 Blessy and Santosh follow, then Bindu & Johnson with baby Sarah fast asleep in his arms 🙂 They all look radiant and happy…all is as it should be 🙂
Then it’s Liza’s turn…and I can’t take my eyes off her as walks down the aisle on the arm of her proud father. Instinctively I know, she’s the right match for Vinod and that they will be happy 🙂 Maybe it’s weddings in general or this one in particular, I’m enjoying watching the world through my favorite rose-colored glasses! She joins Vinod at the altar and the ceremony begins. It’s in Malyalam, but that doesn’t worry me in the least! There are 16 priests!! The officiating priest wears a black cassock, another wears red and the rest are in white. The choir begins a hymn and the church is filled with the sound of soulful music. I am mesmerized…by the music, by the solemn incantations of the priests, by the evident faith of the congregation and the obvious spirituality of the moment. It is as I imagined…only better, a thousand times better 🙂
There are some similarities between a Hindu wedding and a Syrian catholic one. They have a ‘thaali’, similar to our ‘mangalsutra’, literally translated as ‘auspicious thread’, that women wear as a symbol of their married status. Like the western ‘wedding bands’. The groom also gives his bride a saree, which she changes into after the marriage has been solemnized. Beena does the honors for Vinod, draping the stunning, red & gold kanjeevaram gently on Liza head. All too soon (or so it seems to me, ‘coz I’m used to the endless litany of rituals that constitute a Hindu marriage :P), Vinod & Liza are man and wife and a photo-frenzy ensues! The reception and lunch are at another venue, and we find a ride with Biju’s brother 🙂
The venue, St. Johns Metropolitan Church is a stunning piece of architecture, constructed by British architect Laurie Baker, in his hallmark eco-friendly style using red bricks and tiles. The lunch is a sit down affair and the mutton biryani is steaming-hot and mouth-watering! I am in foodie heaven 🙂 On the stage facing us, the newly weds sip coconut water from a single coconut (droll), cut a cake, light a diya (I love that!) and settle on their red velvet thrones 😉 They eat too, which is a total departure from Hindu weddings, where the guests first stand in long queues to wish the couple and then stand in even longer queues at the buffets! The couple and close family, almost never eats before 3 pm! Here, there’s wishing but somehow no long lines although there are hundreds of guests. The function draws to a happy close by 2.30 pm, by which time, we’ve mingled, eaten, wished the couple, had our pictures taken and are ready but loathe to leave. We have a train to catch at 4.45 the same evening.
I have another moment on stage. We wish the couple and I ask Vinod, if he’s still nervous. He’s so obviously relaxed, with Liza by his side, his arm over her shoulder holding her close, leaning gently into each other that his answer is a forgone conclusion 🙂 “Not any more, Harsha”, he says, drawing his bride closer, ‘Not anymore”! That’s my boy 🙂 Liza’s smiling and saying, “Hey! I was nervous too, you know!” I leave them like that…wrapped up in each other, standing on the threshold of a vibrant, happy journey together and my heart is bursting with joy…coz what can possibly be better than spending a lifetime full of love, family and the company of loving friends!
Here’s to you, Vinod & Liza…May you find Happiness wherever you go 🙂
And here’s to my favorite family…I Love you all! You ROCK!!!!
And to Beena…my friend, kindred spirit, my sister…I have only this to say…Love You Hamesha 🙂 You’re the Best!
Here are a few pictures from the wedding…