A Hindu wedding in Kerala

Hindu wedding in India

Yadhu and Savi on their engagement day

One evening walking in the streets of Kochi we met a few young guys, started to talk with them, had some very good laughs and ended the night with an invitation to a Hindu wedding. The wedding of Yadhu and Savi. Oh wow!

A few days later early in the morning, we go to the home of Yadhu. All his family is there, neighbours and friends. I am immediately taken by the hand to get dressed – with the saree of the groom’s mom! The neighbour wraps me in this enormous amount of green and golden fabric and puts Jasmine flowers in my hair. Meanwhile Nadim gets help dressing with the traditional Kurtha and Mundu.

The temple ceremony takes place in Vaikom, the village, where Savi has been living with her family until today. The small temple is surrounded by palm trees, chewing cows on the meadow and a ton of people! Everybody is staring at us. People are smiling, they wave, want to talk to us, know where we are from and introduce us to their families.

The beutiful bride enters circles the altar.

The beutiful bride enters circles the altar.

In the temple area we gather under a small gazebo where two priests are waiting next to an altar and two other man play some music. Yadhu is impatiently waiting for his bride, which eventually arrives wearing a red and golden Saree, a Jasmine flower veil and a lot of golden jewelry. She carries a silver bowl with fruits, flowers, and a little fire and circles the altar three times. After that her father puts her right hand in the one of Yadhu, holds them for a while together end everybody starts to sing a prayer. Within the ceremony Yadhu and Savi garland each other and Yadhu puts two necklaces around Savi’s neck. Also Yadhu puts a red powder on Savi’s forehead and hair as a sign, that she is a married woman. Eventually they circle the altar together and the people make “Booo”-sounds to celebrate. Within 30 minutes Yadhu and Savi are married.

After that we go to the house of Savi’s family, where they’ve set up a big tent in the garden. Now more and more people notice us and again we look in many friendly faces and talk to many very nice people. All in all there might be at least 600 people. Meanwhile the bridal couple is busy taking pictures on a big stage. Photos with the parents, siblings, cousins, neighbours, friends, other cousins and so forth and so on. They are busy for a very long time. We get an excellent lunch on a banana leave, take some pictures with the newlyweds and friends and all in a sudden the wedding is over. Yadhu and Savi get in the car and drive to his home, where Savi will live with him from now on. Everybody (including us) is happy, full, and wants to make a siesta. The next day, everybody will meet again at the reception in Fort Kochi where everybody comes to welcome Savi to the community.

Yadhu and Savi, we wish you a happy and long life together! Thank you for inviting us. It was a incredible honour and a great pleasure.

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Fort Kochi, Kerala, India

Atithi Devo Bhava!

travel smart KochiIt’s been about a week now that Travel Smart! has arrived in India, more precisely in a city called Fort Kochi (see the map here).
Located on the south west coast of India at the Arabian Sea, Fort Kochi has been ranked the sixth best tourist destination in India and offers many interesting sights such as the ancient Chinese fishing nets, the Jain Temple, or the Backwaters of Kochi.

 

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The official languages spoken are Malayalam and English and with more than 600,000 inhabitants it’s the most densely populated city in the state of Kerala. 97.5% of the people are literate, and with an only 1.1% lower literacy rate for females, Kochi has amongst the lowest such gaps in India. Hinduism is the major religion (47%) followed by Christianity (35%) and Islam (17%) and all the believers live peacefully next-door to one another and interrelate in very good relations. As a local Muslim told us: “You can call it water, agua, or Wasser – it’s always the same thing, just the way we call it changes. God is always God.”

travel smart kochiKnown as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Fort Kochi was an important spice trading centre from the 14th century onwards and is still a major port city with some industry surrounding it. As one of the first of the European colonies in colonial India it was occupied by the Portuguese in 1503, following later by the Dutch and the British as well. It was the centre of Indian spice trade for many centuries, and known to the Greek, Romans, Jews, Syrians, Arabs, and Chinese since ancient times. Therefore Kochi has been influenced by many cultures and religions and developed to be an unique place in India.

Arriving at Kochi you are immediately welcomed by many warm smiles, prying but friendly eyes and an unknown generosity. People are incredibly nice, open-minded and interested in each other. They desire to increase your happiness and they help you to make your stay rememberable. The culture’s hospitality is based on an ancient Sanskrit verse that everybody knows and lives: “Atithi Devo Bhava! – The guest is equivalent to God!”

We are excited to get to know this place and its people more and more and to share with you our discoveries and adventures in this wonderful country in following articles!