Still recovering from jet lag, I still remember when my friend told me she’s decided to finally tie the knot. At first, I was happy, then I did question it a bit in my own way. Why? Because I knew she loved her independence, freedom, parties, travels, etc.
We’ve been friends for 11 years now, and we did have our ‘I hate you’ moments. I still have a laugh looking back. We became friends in the last year of our bachelors degree, and we crossed our paths again at work. At work, we used to gossip so much during lunch time. Those were the good old days.
We often chat about her decision, what I think, and whether she would lose her freedom, and so many other things. Of course, getting married is a big deal. She and her husband to be met through their parents, she living in Dubai and him living in Melbourne it was obviously an arranged marriage. I should mention that its not a hard arranged marriage as such as in an Indian context, but a light one where she could still say no. I knew she would have done that if she thought he wasn’t the right choice. But they did decide to…
When I got my save the day card and I was excited. I wanted to book the flights straight away, buy a fancy suit, and look up where I would stay. But things are not so easy if you have other travel plans (wink), so it made things a bit difficult. None the less, I knew I had to change whatever plans I had, book a trip to Colombo and attend the wedding. Time went by, and she kept consulting me on different things such as the dressmaker, the wedding band, but I had no clue. All I could do was give the names of those whose done my sisters and the bands they had. Sri Lankan weddings are a big business and you usually invite 300+ people so there is a lot of prep work to do, other than just worrying about your own dress and makeup.
A few weeks before the wedding, I got my invitation. Had my flights booked, the hotel booked and all planned out. I was contemplating between spending more time in Sri Lanka and going somewhere else before/after, and ended up going to Thailand before the wedding and just getting to Sri Lanka for the wedding. Its something I do regret now as I had sunburns before the wedding which was not a good thing. And to top it off, carrying a suit around was a pain.
I stayed in Colombo the night before the wedding avoiding rush hour commute to the morning wedding. Somehow, although close, I was a bit late than I expected to be there in the morning clicking away, managed to get there just in time where the bride is being ushered by Kandyan dancers. Kandyan dancers in weddings, particularly sinhalese weddings is both traditional and symbolic. Its just like playing ‘here comes the bride’ at any western wedding but more dramatic. There’s the noise, there the traditionally dressed dancers, everyones attention on the bride, and target achieved.
Then its time for the traditional ceremony to take place. It usually involves a stage which is a couple of steps higher than the floor, called ‘Poruwa’. Celebrant takes over the ceremony and performs the rituals which takes about 30mins to 1 hour (depends if you want to rush it and get it over with or have the long version). Once the poruwa ceremony is over, couple is traditionally wed, but for legal reasons they still have to register the marriage which took place a while later. Once the traditional ceremony was over, it was time for the glamorous and western style bits, where the champaign, the music, the selfies, the toasts.
We had allocated seats, but at one time I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t know anyone to talk to. I knew where I was going to sit, but there was no one in the table and it had been two hours since I’ve arrived, the main ceremony was over and the couple was now going around and talking to the guests. I did expect to see some old friends which I knew were invited but no one seems to be there. Trying to hide the fact that I was alone and no one to talk to, I pretend to take photos around the place in order to keep myself busy.
It must have been around 11.30 by the time some familiar faces arrived and I was in much relieved state. Gossip can start flowing, giggles to take over and more banter to follow. I haven’t met my long time batch mates after moving to Australia and we had a lot to catchup on.
Lunch or Dinner is usually part of the wedding and it was soon lunch time (and I was starving!) and was a Sri Lankan style buffet affair. Couple opened the extravagant menu and we followed. I was hoping to try out a lot of Sri Lankan style dishes but I was soon full with just one plateful and it was spicy.
My long time friend is now married, blessed by their parents and the guests. I’ve met my old friends, giggled and detailed passed. Enjoyed a sumptuous buffet, had traditional sweets, clicked photos, took selfies, group photo taken. It was a long day, a happy day, an important day to my friend, new connections made, and a promise to meet very soon in a familiar land, I say Adiós to the new couple and my friends to my next destination…