Saturday, January 19, 2013

An International Affair.

Today's post is a long one full of photo's and stories.  This is due to the fact that we were traveling and attending my wife's nieces wedding.  We also had another festival and a few stops along the way.

But first to the wedding.  It was truly an international affair as Ammu married Bruno on January 17.  Both of them now live in Melbourne, Australia although Ammu's root's are here in India, while Bruno's family is of Chinese decent from Malaysia.  Ammu's mom is Catholic while her dad is Hindu and thus a Hindu celebration was had.  This is the second type ceremony that I attended as her brother Ammu had a similar wedding in the summer of 2011 although he married a girl with local roots.

However there were a number of different touches this yea that helped make the ceremony easier to follow and understand.  First was a lovely little booklet was produced that explained the various rituals and their meanings.  Second I think the photographer's this year took a bit of a lesson from me as they stayed to the side and kept low which is my style of inconspicuous shooting for weddings.  This allowed everyone a chance to view the proceedings. 

Now Southern Hindu weddings are a little different then there northern counter parts with the most notable being that it is over two days and not three.  The first three photo's are from that evening where it is all about the bride as her family prepares her for the marriage.  There are some simple rituals in which she gets the blessings from her parents and family and then there is an entertainment program for the rest of the evening.
Day two it is about the groom and his being welcomed to the family and joining his bride.  After her brother brings the groom in and washes his feet, the brides parents walk her in.  She then greets him and a variety of garland and items are exchanged.  They also circle the alter three times and there is a ritual fire which burns from wicks that were made the evening before during the entertainment by the single and married ladies.  At one point they pour rice in to the flames. It is a Kerala custom then for the groom to tie a Talley around the brides neck after which they are married.  Then becomes a long stretch as the family and guest come up to greet and bless the couple and have their photo taken with them. Below are some of the photo;s I took on the second day.
Now prior to the ceremony as the groom arrives he is greeted by music and celebration.  While I did shoot photo's with my DSLR, I felt there was a good opportunity here to create some artsy shots with the iPhone and the Hipstamatic app and tintype film.  I did use a different lens then the one that comes with the pak which I think worked better for this set of images.
Finally I waited until the end where I quickly asked Bruno and Ammu to indulge me in creating an individual iPhone Hipstamatic portrait of both of them.
On our way down we stopped at a church dedicated to St. Sebastian in Allapply.  My father-in-law walked in and knelt down and there was this one beam of sunlight coming in behind him which I really liked and gave a spiritual feel to the photo.
The next four images are from our time in Trivandrum.  We stayed at the Windsor Rajadhani Hotel which was very nice and at a very reasonable price.  The staff were friendly and the doorman below allowed me to snap a photo of him.
This was a view from the 9th floor restaurant at sunset.  One of the coolest things is that from this height you see only a few other buildings where all the smaller buildings and homes are obscured by all the palm trees that grow in the city.  It was very beautiful.
These two photo's were taken at the Trivandrum Zoo.  It is one of the nicer one's in Kerala, but it still has many of it's animals behind heavy iron bars.
On the way home we stopped at the boy's favourite Indian restaurant, U.S. pizza.  We discovered this indian owned pizza chain on previous visits and the boys loved the pizza they made.  We tried to visit the one we normally do in Thrissur but found that they had closed it down a month previous.  Luke was devastated and even though we got pizza at a Domino's it was not the same.  I promised him that when we did find one he could have two chocolate milkshakes to make up for it.  I knew there was one just outside of Cochin so we stopped on our way home and Luke belted back his two shakes at the same time.

Now we are in our final day and my next blog post won't be until we return home next Monday.  While looking for something to photograph I found this flower which had bloomed while we were away.  As I shot my wife told me that we had to prepare for the arrival of the arrow for St. Sebastian's Feast that takes place at our local parish this weekend.
Here are some photo's of some of the proceedings as the arrow arrives surrounded by these colourful umbrellas.  It then stays at the home until later in the afternoon when a procession makes it's way from house to house until they reach the church.  We were fortunate to have a chance to witness and participate in this event.

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