Thursday, 8 May 2008

Travel Journal #3 (3 May): Home Coming

I just tried a local chocolate brand called Kandos that Sasanka and Isuru bought for me yesterday but weather is so hot that when I opened it almost all of it had melted. It was very nice, melted and all.

Today is Sunday. I am sitting at the verandah outside my bedroom writing these notes on a laptop and enjoying the cool breeze and the soothing sound of coconut tree leaves rustling against each other. There is a far, faint sound of tuk-tuks crossing the main road a few meters away.

Last night was Ruchira's and Kushil's home coming. Home coming takes place a few days after the wedding. It marks the moment when the bride returns from going away after the wedding. It's when the groom finally brings the bride (along with her friends and family) to be introduced to his own friends and family. As we were on the bride's side we waited outside until all the groom's guests arrived and were waiting for us to enter. There was a brief ritual with some big guys singing and playing the drums (which faintly reminded me of similar rituals in the Brazilian northeast) and then we walked into the dining room where all the groom's guests were there to greet us.

After that the celebration went on much in the way of conventional western weddings. The bride and the groom spent hours posing for photos with all the guests while people sat at their tables, talked, and drinked. This was going to be my fourth meal in Sri Lanka and my stomach (used to having spicy food no more than once a week) was already begging me for some lightly spiced (some would even say bland) cuisine. I was pleased to see that dinner wasn't too far from what we have in western weddings. While I could have gone the "hot path" had I wanted to, this time I stuck with salad, oven baked pasta, rice, cooked fish, and battered prawns. All very tasty and just what my body was crying for but I promised to myself that from that point on I would try and stick to Sri Lankan food.

The party went on with some live music that even though was sang in Sinhalese it strangely resembled very traditional European (Portuguese/Italian) music we sometimes have at Brazilian weddings and other dinner parties. I had heard previously that Sri Lankan and Indian people were big on music and dancing. But I was still a little surprised when everyone at the table stood up at once and headed to the dance floor. I couldn't be the only one left at the table, could I! So I joined in. Me on a dance floor, of all people. Suddenly about half the guests joined us plus the bride and groom on the dance floor, in what became a big dancing celebration where people of all ages were happily dancing to and interpreting the music Sri Lankans call baila (I wage money that all Portuguese speaking readers have a smile on their faces right now) which to my untrained western ears sounded much like a mix of European and Indian music. Maybe it was the fact that I was in a strange land amongst people I didn't know but the whole dancing affair had a really good vibe to it and I could see that people were really happy and and enjoying themselves. I could tell how intimate they all were with each other and that the entire crowd was a big, close family. Westerns certainly have a thing or two to learn from Sri Lankans about family.

The last ritual of the night had the bride's parents giving her away to the groom's care, and his parents welcoming her into the new family. It was all conducted with extreme cordiality, respect and such beauty that to me it was a bit of an emotional moment (which was quite unexpected since I didn't really know the bride, the groom, or their parents!)

1 comment:

Gypsy said...

hmm hmm hmm, you may want to consider a wedding now just for hat emotional moment? :D

Jane told Sasanka to teach you a lesson about getting married on the phone, haha.