Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Auspicious Day: Sweet Violet gets married

Rain is a good omen in the Hindu culture and so the rain that greeted us upon landing at Durban International was a good sign. My husband called it “showers of blessing” which, of course, dissipated my initial annoyance at their unanticipated appearance.

I am not a good flyer and the flight was a bit bumpy but otherwise uneventful. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the minutes pre-boarding. Neither Cape Town International nor Durban International have jetways which means that passengers have to hike out to the tarmac and up a set of stairs to board the plane. Well, the airport back in Silicon Valley has much the same set up, so I’m fairly accustomed to it except for one thing: here in South Africa, they park the planes waaaaaaay out in the boonies instead of nose up to the terminal building. To accommodate passengers, however, the local airports supply large busses…think diesel-powered subway car with seats only at the front and back, the rest of the car just poles and hang straps…to take the passengers from the boarding lounge to the aircraft. It was here that I ran into trouble.

At first I thought myself lucky to get one of the few seats on the bus but the young man seated to my right was so drenched in some kind of peppery-scented cologne that my eyes literally began to water. Before the bus actually got into gear and on its way, I was sneezing. And it went downhill from there. Two allergy pills, a complete shower, a shampoo and 24 hours later I was on the road to recovery, eyes still red and puffy and nose starting to dry up. Whatever it was that guy had on, particles of it apparently clung to my hair and clothing and continued to provoke an allergic reaction long after he had disappeared into the vast landscape that is Durban.

Thursday evening saw us at Mum’s house for a prayer dinner: prayers for the dead. It was a vegetarian affair, with offerings and prayers for those who have gone before us, inviting them to dinner and to the wedding. I concentrated on inviting his relatives, particularly his father, as mine would probably not be particularly pleased. My mother and grandparents were not terribly impressed with my sister’s marriage, and her African-American husband is Christian. Imagine their opinion on my marrying an Indian gentleman whose family is Hindu (or, in their vernacular, heathen)?

Friday was your basic “last minute errands” day. The rain continued off and on, always light and gentle, more showers of blessing washing away cares and difficulties. We shopped for last minute items and drove over to visit Mum, where I got my first look at my thali. I had never seen one before.

Several large green leaves lined a small silver-coloured plastic tray. On the leaves was an array of items, from a folded length of yellow-orange cord to a yellow string wrapped around a turmeric stick, a betel nut, and five pieces of wrought gold. Wrapped with a piece of cling-film to keep everything together, this small tray held the essential items to present to the Brahmin (priest), who would, with the assistance of a married auntie, string the pieces together on the cord and bless them. The thali already bore marks of kum kum, a powdered vermilion, have been blessed by the goldsmith after he created it.

The morning of our anniversary dawned with more showers of blessing. Not only was this an auspicious day to begin any venture, according to the priest, the gentle rains were also blessing us. This, in the customs of my husband’s culture, was fated to be a good marriage. I have to admit, this was the nicest weather I had ever experienced in Durban. Usually is it hot and humid and rain only exacerbates that. But this trip was temperate…warm enough to keep away any chill, but cool enough that Dear Hubby, who perspires at the merest hint of heat, got through the whole ceremony without needing to mop his brow! Truly, it was an auspicious day!


  1. Glad to see I'm not the only allergy sufferer. Sometimes when the Mrs puts deo on I have to run...and as for visiting the inlaws, with their 4 dogs and 3 cats...

    I would also have been quite at home with the vegeterian meal.

    Trust all is well your end,

  2. How wonderful! You have been quiet about this on BC! Congratulations for you bot. :)

  3. Shrimate Sweet Violet,

    Your posts on thaali are wonderful.

    I have a question that's been bother me for ages. Do you know where I can find that yellow thread?? I've looked everywhere here in the US to no avail. Would be willing to purchase from anywhere. (The purpose is to decorate temple deities - traditionally adorned with thaalis as regular women are.)

    Very best in advance.
    Sudarshana adiyaar

  4. Sudarshana, thank you for your comment. I do not know where to get the yellow thread, but if you can find a goldsmith or jeweller who knows about the thaali, perhaps he would know where to find the thread? My thaali came from the goldsmith with the gold thread already on the tray.

    If you can find no one in America, perhaps you could try an Indian goldsmith in Durban, South Africa...that is where mine came from. I would look on the Internet and see what was available.

    Best of luck to you.

  5. This was a really great story! I'm so glad you posted the link to it. What a great day and I am so happy for you that you found so much happiness with a great guy.



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