A Cast of Thousands: Day One

Preparing the dais for the wedding ceremony. The canopy is made from thousands of fresh flowers

I’m in serious escapist mode, and in today’s post I want to take us as far away as I can.

This weekend we’re meeting up with friends, a married couple with a little girl. They will be the first friends we’ve actually seen in person in over two months. I’ll finally climb out of the pair of tights I’ve been wearing since March except for when I go outdoors (and then the go-to fashion item is my surgical mask).

Our friends are from India, and that reminds me of the last really BIG social event I attended: a wedding in Mumbai back in January. I took my sister Pam to visit the bride’s mother’s uncle and his wife, and our visit coincided with the two-day celebration.

In secret I’d always wanted to be invited to an Indian wedding! The spectacle, the days of celebrating! A cast of thousands! I packed a couple dresses and a pair of heels. As you can see from the photographs, the clothes were beyond beautiful. Out of respect for privacy I’m not using any photographs that might identify people’s faces. But really these pictures are about the clothes, the venue, the amazing food, and the generosity of the hosts.

Women in saris with matching hair accessories

The bride is Farsi, the groom Hindu. The first day was the wedding ceremony. It was a small affair for immediate family and friends. All 250 of us….

The outdoor patio where the lunch buffet was served. Curtains of flowers hang over the entryway

Here are my impressions, recorded in my journal: “250 people came and went, waiters circulated with appetizers and drinks (vegetarian and non-alcoholic as it was a religious ceremony). A huge vegetarian lunch buffet was set up outside.

The chairs were all covered in white with purple and saffron yellow sashes tied on the backs. These matched the flower canopy over the dais. The canopy had been made of elaborate long drapes of thousands of fresh flowers.

The Hindu men’s turbans matched the bows on the chairs. Really a wild parade of colors. Gorgeous!

The wedding party sat on a dais and the rituals went on for two hours. Sadly, the professional photographers blocked the view most of that time. What I could glimpse was chanting, reading of sacred texts, the tossing of rice and flower petals, a fire lit towards the end of the religious ceremony. A yellow sash was tied to bind the bride and groom to one another. They then walked (circling) numerous times around the fire. Both sets of parents were seated on either side, the sisters too. All took part in the rituals.”

My next post will describe the second day and the evening portion of the wonderful wedding celebration.

NOTES: The clothes were incredible. Pam and I were seriously underdressed, luckily not shamefully underdressed. Everyone made us feel welcomed! Text © Jadi Campbell 2020. Photos © Jadi Campbell and Pamela Campbell.

To see Uwe’s pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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Get Me to the Church on Time: Malaysia

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

We spent a couple weeks in Malaysia this spring. Most of that time we stayed in the classic tourist destinations: Georgetown and Melaka for their rich layers of Dutch, Portuguese, British history.

Visitors at St. Paul’s Church, Melaka
Portuguese tombstones, St. Paul’s Church, Melaka

We tried to see some of the incredible nature, too. My personal highlight was Sarawak on Borneo. We went to the UNESCO global geopark on Langkawi Island and took a bus inland to the tea country of the Cameron Highlands.

Everywhere we went, I was struck by two things. The first is that in a predominantly Muslim country it can take a while to find alcohol. Evening mealtimes for Uwe and me are when we want to linger over a glass and talk about what we saw during the day. In Malaysia we’d peruse the menu at the front of a restaurant and turn the pages to the very back where the drinks were listed. If it didn’t serve beer or wine, often we’d smile and say thank you, and head further down the street feeling slightly like jerks.

Mosque and Muslim cemetary, Sarawak, Borneo

The second thing I noticed is that in every place we visited, streets in Malaysia contain the houses of worship of different religions. Muslim mosques, Christian churches, Hindu, Buddhist, Tin Hau and Chinese temples, one next to the other line a street. Everywhere.

Hindu temple, Georgetown
Hindu priest, Georgetown
The goddess Tin Hau, patroness and protector of sailors and immigrants, Georgetown

We explored many of them and I was delighted and calmed by the sweet atmosphere in these roads. The world feels more and more divided. But the Malaysians we talked with are proud of the religious tolerance and multicultural blend that makes up their country.

Chinese temple lanterns, Sarawak, Borneo
Dutch, British, German cemetary, Melaka

And that’s a concept I’ll gladly raise a glass of wine to….

NOTES:  © Jadi Campbell 2019. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s pics from Malaysia and our trips go to viewpics.de.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.