wedding

TRAVEL

BRIDE

Deena

WHERE

Bambous, Mauritius

WHEN

25th April 2015

It was a typically beautiful April day in Mauritius, the late summer sun was pleasantly warm, yet thankfully not hot enough to make wearing formal attire uncomfortable. This isn’t a usual consideration for us on the island, more often we’re in search of dry swimwear, however today was different, we had been invited to our first Mauritian wedding.

A few days previous we had been in the company of a most knowledge guide, Hemraj Lolith. He shared with us many details of his home country, and after noticing my interest in the traditions and culture of Mauritius he invited us to his cousins wedding on the weekend.

Although we were initially unsure about invading the privacy of the event, imagining the reaction of our cousins if we brought people we just met to their wedding! Raj assured us we would be welcome. Therefore we agreed, and on Saturday he picked us up for the short drive to the village of Bambous and the wedding.


‘Under a blue sky, in the backyard we met a happy bunch preparing Biryani’


the food

Whilst the lucky couple where preparing and guests were scattered about waiting ,Raj took us to the back of the venue to show us a very old tradition where the pre-ceremony meal was being cooked. Under a blue sky, in the backyard we met a happy bunch preparing Biryani and spicy condiments. They enthusiastically showed us what they were cooking over the fire and allowed us to photograph them preparing their contribution to the celebrations.

The majority of the cooks were woman, although one gentleman was chopping away at a table among them. They were of the older generation and spoke, to my ears, a peculiar dialect. Raj explained that both this way of speaking and wedding cooking was an old tradition, now dying out with the younger generations. He explained that very few had the patience to learn these traditions today, luckily for us, today the old ways were still practiced, and the fragrance was amazing.

Raj brought us to the front of the building a little later where we were met by a myriad of people sitting at long tables. They were being served the Biryani on disposable green sheets of paper standing in for palm leaves. A few minutes later we had been sat at one of the tables and were getting ready to have a taste. The people around us were probably as amused as we were at our efforts trying to eat with the fork nature gave us; our hands. We still haven’t figured out the art of eating this way with the grace of the other guests.

Whether or not we managed to perform this activity at a special occasion standard we thoroughly enjoyed the food and luckily, due to the large amount of vegetarians in the Indian-Mauritian community, the meal was completely vegan. We also enjoyed the sense of community sitting around the long table hearing the chitter-chatter and laughter of the couple’s friends and family.


‘One thing that always strikes me when we visit Mauritius is the kindness and sense of welcome the people of this island exude’


THE CEREMONY

We were told that some ceremonies could take upwards of three hours, however were reassured that this was going to be a far shorter affair. Apparently there is a quicker version of the traditional ceremony where less is said, only indicating each passage without reciting it in whole. Whilst being relatively short, this ceremony was to be a little different as the bride was Hindi and the groom Tamil, resulting in a mix of traditions.

Two priests conducted two slightly different ceremonies simultaneously, or at least this is what we gathered, not understanding the language. Rob was receiving an account of the proceedings standing at the back with Raj, whilst I had been offered a prime seat at the front. What we do know is that flower garlands were exchanged, grains were poured over heads and that a fire was lit and various items such as fruit, flowers, some kind of syrup and more grains were thrown into that fire.

One of the priests was continuously reading out from a book whilst the other priest guided the couple through the rituals of pouring objects into the fire. Sometimes it would be passed between the two before it went in the fire and sometimes they would throw things in simultaneously. All of this happened in the rhythm of that we could feel, if not understanding, the cycle of offering, and joining and unity was palpable.

At times, while sat on the front row, I found the experience slightly bewildering, it was all so new and different for me. I can tell you with certainty I found the ceremony truly beautiful, with the colourful red dress of the bride and off white grooms robe, the henna on the brides hands and feet, the flowers, the fire, the fruit, lovely smelling syrups and incense. That was one thing about this wedding I will always remember; the scent of the items burning in the fire pot. It was deliciously sweet and spicy. And of course the cute smile of the bride and groom at the end of the ceremony.

True to Raj’s word’s once we were at the wedding we were welcomed with open arms. We weren’t made to feel out of place, and special care was made to insure we were fed, watered and comfortable.

One thing that always strikes me when we visit Mauritius is the kindness and sense of welcome the people of this island exude. It might be true that the island relies heavily on the income of tourism but I believe the welcoming attribute of the people extends far beyond that.

We had an amazing experience at the wedding, and wish the happy couple all the best.