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Archive for the ‘Weddings’ Category

How About a Wild Wedding?

Posted by admin On November - 15 - 2009 8 COMMENTS

Long ago a Hindu bride was driven to her matrimonial home on a decorated donkey cart. Or mule cart. There were no rented halls, wedding favours, table decorations for guests to take home, dj or fancy reception. The marriage ceremony took place at the bride’s home and then she left with fanfare, husband at her side, to her new home, at her in-laws.

A donkey cart. Donkey cart (photo taken from the web).

I have never attended any such wedding but I have heard about them from relatives and I’ve read about some in newspapers. They always seemed to be steeped in so much history. But times have changed and although some people still cling to traditions for their nuptials many have broken the ties and staged weddings that reflected their personalities.

And that’s what weddings are about. Personalities. The personalities of the couple taking their vows. Every bit of which is represented in they type of wedding they opt for. Incidentally, most is reflective of the parents, if they decide to marry off their children with a traditional bash. But who made the rule that stated weddings should follow certain traditions? The people themselves, way back then, when society expected it of them. That used to be the norm long ago, not any more.

Mule cart (photo taken from the web).

Mule cart (photo taken from the web).

A wedding can be as wild or as ridiculous as the couple wants to make it. It’s their day. Why can’t they live it the way they choose? Some have. Remember that underwater wedding in Bali? That was not the only one. The bungee jump wedding in China. The Las Vegas one where the bride dressed like Wonder Woman and the groom dressed like Superman. And the recently publicised Halloween themed wedding. All of these have shrugged away the traditional white wedding dress for a outrageous do.

With changing times come more daring brides and grooms. Traditions are being left behind and new precedence are being set by bold couples wanting to actually have a day they could remember, a wedding day different from any other. And nothing’s wrong with that, providing both parties are bold enough to tow the line.

Bride Dances While Groom Beats Tassa at Reception

Posted by admin On October - 27 - 2009 3 COMMENTS

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. Don’t force yourself into love; don’t be possessive, for these are not the traits of love. Love is freedom.” Khalid Gibran.

The tassa drums roll. The hands resonate through the Royal Indian Palace hall. Guests stretch their eyes toward the doorway, expectant. Outside, the bridal party is poised for its grand entrance. Rajindra and Kelly Ann Maharaj will make their first walk down the aisle as husband and wife.

Rajindra and Kelly Ann Maharaj

Rajindra and Kelly Ann Maharaj

Thunderous applause and cheers, hoots and whistles, greet the couple as they enter, arm in arm, proceeding slowly to their seats at the head table, beneath a canopy of red and gold tapestry and fringed brocade. The tassa drummers follow cutting hand after hand while the beaming bride and her proud groom seat themselves. (Just to make it clear, people’s hands were not really cut. A hand in tassa drumming represents a beat or musical note and the execution of the hand is referred to as a cut, hence the term cutting hands. Tassa drummers play seven different hands, most popular being the nagara.)

Preceding the bridal party to take their positions at both sides of the reception table are Kelly Ann’s parents, Seeta Heeralal and Ricky Rampaul and Rajindra’s parents, Ena and Bhadase Maharaj. Heading the bridal party and leading the group into the reception hall are the beautiful flower nymphs, sisters, Daviann and Brianna, following are the young couples; Brittney and Sanjay and Aishwariya and Satish. Making their entrance are the adult couples; bridesmaids and their partners; Keisha and Timothy, Roxanne and Shaun, Suzette and Joshua and Melissa and Donny.

Rajindra and Kelly Ann were married under Hindu rites on Sunday, October 18, at the Prem Bhakti Mandir, Jamaica. Today, Friday, October 23, the Reception takes place at the Royal Indian Palace, on Atlantic Avenue, Richmond Hill.

Shedding the lehenga choli worn at the mandir, she emerges in a strapless off white wedding dress with a lightly tanned trail, a delicate tiara on her head and lovely white pearls and diamond necklace . It suites her slight frame, a perfect dress for a perfect bride. Rajindra complements her in a black tuxedo. A regal couple for a regal affair at a royal palace. Incidentally, I am also the mistress of ceremonies for the evening’s programme.

Raj Seepersad, Kelly Ann’s uncle, moves a toast and pays hearty tribute to her. He wishes her a successful and lasting married life. Donny and Melissa, her cousins, also move toasts in her honour and congratulate her on her marriage. Toasting the couple on behalf of Rajindra are his aunt Tara Dadwah and his cousin Natalie Dadwah, guests from Canada. His maternal uncle, Mahabal Jadoo, who flew in from Trinidad for the wedding, brings best wishes and insists that the family will meet again, perhaps before 2010 closes, for the baarahie celebrations (the birth of their first child). He receives accolades on that one.

Tassa drummers perform at the reception.

Tassa drummers perform at the reception.

Then a surprise twist in the evening’s programme, a dance dedicated to the couple by Rajin’s rakhi sister, and my daughter, Florencia Suzette Gosine.  She dances to the late Kanchan’s Mare Akiya. It is truly a surprise and guests show their appreciation with lively applause.

On that note the couple takes the stage for their first dance of the evening. The bridal party follows with the couples dance and then the parents’ dance. In the spotlight are Kelly Ann dancing with her father Ricky and Rajindra dancing with his mother Ena. Then they switch, Kelly dances with Bhadase, her father-in-law and Rajindra dances with Seeta, his mother-in-law.

Following a musical interlude they cut a three-tier white wedding cake to signal the end of the formal program. Then the party starts. Guests take to the floor joining Kelly Ann and the bridal party in a medley of dances to the DJ music. Then the tassa drumming starts again, this time, Rajindra, an experienced tassa drummer takes control of the bass drum and cuts some sharp hands to which Kelly Ann dances and rolls her hips in a beguiling manner. It’s a dance between husband and wife who shares coy looks and knowing smiles.

The night wears on and the party is in full swing. Kelly Ann dances non-stop, facing dance-off challenges from family members and emerging victorious until the DJ signs off and the last tassa hand is cut. Exhausted she flops into a chair, a bemused look on her round face. She achieves her goal, to enjoy every moment of her reception. The next day she tells me she had lost two pounds that night just from dancing.

Vivaah Sanskaar

Posted by admin On October - 20 - 2009 4 COMMENTS

She approached the mandap (marriage canopy) in a yellow  sari and then a red bridal lehenga choli. Decked in gold jewelry, from the crown of her head to her hennaed  hands, her mother and aunt escorted her into the  temple for her vivaah Sanskaar, wedding.

Following the grahashanti (invoking of peace with the nine planets), the dulaha (groom), dressed in a flowing pink silk brocade suit with matching turban and a sehra (flowers suspended in strings over the forehead),  along with saibala at his side, joined her  in the mandap. To the left, on the altar, deities, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, Saraswatie, Ganesh, Hanuman, and others witnessed the proceedings.

Trinidadian immigrants Kelly Ann Heeralal of Linden, New Jersey, and Rajindra Maharaj, of Queens, New York, had exchanged mutual greetings for many years before realising they shared deep feelings for each other. Their lives came together through an abiding friendship that started with their mothers; Seeta Heeralal and Ena Maharaj. Neither could have predicted the outcome, but welcomed it. Their children’s gath bandhan (tying the nuptial knot), united them as family, and  they embraced that, too, willingly. Teary-eyed they watched them perform the sacred Hindu rituals that transformed their relationship from friends to husband and wife. Naresh Heeralal, deceased, was the dulahin’s father.  However, Roopa and Narad Boodram stepped in as her honorary parents. Badhase Maharaj is the dulaha’s father.

Though the day was cold and rainy, it could not quell the anticipation of the guests who had gathered at Prem Bhakti Mandir, at 172nd Street, Jamaica, Queens, on Sunday October 18, to celebrate the couple’s marriage. Pundits Vishal Maraj and Sharma Maharaj performed the ceremony. Tassa drummers kept feet and shoulders moving while guests feasted on a hearty vegetarian menu.

The vivaah sanskaar is the culmination of the three-day traditional Hindu rituals, which started on Friday with the maticoor. The beating of tassa drums signaled that the ceremony had started.  An all female entourage accompanied the drummers along the street in search of a stand pipe or area with running water for the maticoor. After singing and dancing they returned to the home for the hardi ritual (at the respective homes, the dulahin (bride) and dulaha are smeared with a paste of tumeric and oil to remove evil eye).

The following night, the cooking night, the laawa (rice paddy) was parched in a pot over the fire. It’s also the night when the couple prepares to bid farewell to their parents and the home where they had grown to adults. On Sunday, the vivaah sanskaar began with the baraat milaap, the arrival of the dulaha and his procession at the mandir.

The ceremony continued with the kanyadaan (giving away of the bride), the paani grahan (the acceptance of each other), sapta padi (the seven steps in a northerly direction to complete the marriage), the sindur daan (the dulaha applies vermilion to the dulahin’s forehead to signify that she is no longer single, but a married woman, his wife), this is followed by the mangal sutra daan (the dulaha places the mangal sutra (sacred marital necklace) around the dulahin’s neck) and completed the marriage with the pundits’ blessings.

And as the daylight faded into the dark sky, tassa drums rolled, hips moved, feet tapped and cameras clicked,  while the husband and wife prepared to return to the dulaha’s home for the welcoming ceremony, the grabbing of the bracelet and the kitchree (offerings of money to the couple). Next stage, the reception, on Friday October 23. I will be heading over there too, oh, yes, I will also update you on how that went. I hear it will be a blast, grog and meat, just try to stop Trinis from that freeness.