On Saturday we flew out of Guangzhou and slowly made our way to Trivandrum, India, completing legs 8, 9 and 10 of our 19 journeys!!!
We arrived at our hotel, the Uday Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel and Spa. This is a beautiful complex with several different buildings housing rooms, suites, and apartments. The furthest set of buildings look out on the Arabian Sea although the actual beach is almost unreachable due to rocks along the ocean walkway.
We woke up Sunday morning, ready for a day of relaxation and enjoyment. When we went down for breakfast, there was a sign posted……
…giving us our first indication that something special was happening here!!
After breakfast, Michael decided to sit on the balcony and relax while I chose to find an unobtrusive spot to sit and watch the celebration. I say that I was unobtrusive as I sat on a low ledge behind a seating area and a palm tree, and Michael did have trouble finding me when he came down. BUT, I imagine that I was NOT unobtrusive to the rest of the guests!!!
I spent a marvelous 3 hours watching the comings and goings!! A steady stream of cars indicated that the guests were arriving, but I can’t imagine where they were parking the vehicles. The hotel has a metal detector that each guest had to walk thru, but it ALWAYS went off so I am not sure exactly how much good it was doing!!
The women were dressed to the nines!! They had beautiful Saris…..
….and imaginative Henna tattoos…..
Several even wore the “turned up” shoes…..
As the guests arrived there was much smiling, touching of hands, and head waggling. Interestingly there was no hugging and very little kissing. I noticed that when the men would shake hands, they would start the shake as we would, but they would end the shake and separate from each other with their hands at a low level…..
…and this gentleman seemed to be enjoying himself…..
If you ignore the empty water bottle in the foreground, you can see that this woman was wearing some amazing jewelry…
As the morning wore on, people would wander in and head slowly upstairs for a drink and to visit the large meeting room…..
Then they would wander back down again to mingle more with the other guests. I really had no idea exactly what was going on!!
Around 11:30, things started happening!!! First of all, there was an upsurge of people to the big room and our (Michael had joined me in my surreptitious seating) excitement level rose as well. Then a drummer and flute (called a Shehanai) emerged and played their way down the stairs, past us and toward the front of the building.
There was also an older woman carrying a large tray filled with limes or lemons.
They formed a circle toward the front of the building ……..
….and waited for the groom to arrive. When he did arrive, they anointed him with some sort of oil and then escorted him up the stairs….
At this point the hotel staff were busily cleaning the oil off of the floor and I was excitedly waiting for the bride to arrive but finally asked one of the hotel staff and they said that she was already in the room upstairs. Well, that was a switch….the bride waits for the groom and not the other way around!!!
But there was still more to come. The music started again and the light bearing women came downstairs, this time to meet an older man and escort he and a young woman up the stairs. When I asked who this might be, it was suggested that it could have been the Father and Sister of the groom.
Since I figured that the “service” would be starting, I wandered around to photograph the banquet area. We have seen on TV that a traditional meal would be served on a Banana leaf with the guests sitting in lines on the floor. This meal was updated a bit as tables and chairs were used but everything else was as we had seen.
The banana leaves each contained a couple of pieces of fruit and something that looked like a fried bread.
In the photo you can see that people were only sitting on one side of the table, with the next table sitting on the opposite side. This allowed the servers to walk down the aisle and serve both tables at the same time.
The meal looked simple, probably just a Dahl, rice and some bread and the servers carried huge pots between them as they used saucers to heap rice onto the leaves. Then came large buckets (literally) of Dahl that was ladled onto the leaf as well.
Interestingly, people started coming downstairs about 5 minutes after the last procession so I am not sure exactly what happened in the room during that time.
Later that afternoon, I finally got a photo of the bride and groom. She looked a bit tired between poses and I couldn’t blame her…..it had been a LONG day!!!
We had lunch on the complex, with the chef coming out and giving us a personal tour of each dish in the buffet line, telling us if it was spicy or not. He also suggested that we add some Roti to the meal which was the perfect suggestion. I think that he was pleased that we were excited about the food and that we enjoyed our meal!!!
We returned to our room to find that our maid had given us a special treat and left a “folded towel” peacock on our bed…….
The detail was amazing, down to the tiny flower used for the eyes…..
The only problem with this wonderful art display is that we had to take it apart to be able to have our showers!!!
As we headed to bed that night I could only think that “I ALMOST got to see an Indian wedding”!!!