Wedding bells are Ringing!!!
A colorful Kerala wedding in the backdrop of a beautiful temple. Another chance for a drive through the beautiful countryside and another chance for this little traveller munch some miles.
Let me try to narrate the wedding experience from a travel photographer's perspective.
The occassion was the marriage of one of my brother's close friend, a really talented guy, who is sure to soar new heights in the film world in line with the tradition he has inherited. The place chosen for wedding was the famous Mahadeva Temple of Chengannur, a place close to the bride's native place.
My bro and wife came down to God's own country so that we could make the trip together. It was a cloudy sunday morning, the chillness of the climate ensured that we overslept and a delayed start ensued. Took my camera along, but the gloomy and low light conditions were not promising for a photographers day out.
Travelling through the Main Central road (MC Road) of Kerala is real fun, because the roads are really wide and criss crosses through lush green surroundings.
A cloudy morning @ MC Road
Well, the journey was quick and we were in front of the Chengannur Mahadeva Temple in about 2 hours time. I decided not to take out my camera as it was very very dark. But one quick look towards the temple and the sky, my decision changed immediately and my favourite toy was in my hand.
The entry gate of the temple was not simply a gate, but a full fledged traditionally constructed building. Within no time I was in a shooting spreee...
Seeing my enthusiasm, the clouds seems to have vanished and clear blue sky seemed to appear from nowhere.
The look of this entrance simply began to grow up on me and I began to search for weird angles.
The groom was already dressed up in traditional attire and waiting in a room adjacent to the temple. We were soon joined by other friends of my brother, of which, one of them has already impressed in a recent Malayalam movie as a major backend technician and another one was a budding film maker. Some really great jokes were already on air and the stage was set for the event.
The first in line was the reception of the groom and relatives, by the bride's parents. The groom, his relatives and friends were ready to be received.
The brides party appeared on the temple's entrance, the groom was garlanded and welcomed by brides brother and soon the atmosphere turned electric as people gathered around, began to sing the "vallappattu", a traditional Kerala song sung by the rowers of the beautiful "Chundan vallams" (read row boats). Chengannur is the land of famous Aranmula boat race, and no wonder people here would like to keep up the tradition alive. The song has a rhythmic tone and it really boosts our spirit. I could literally hear the tune "hey thithi tharo thi theiy thaka theiy theeiy thooom" as I write this.
The groom was taken into the temple as a procession by the brides team. Watch the heads rolling in ...
I too jointed the procession with my heart beating the rythm of the song. Once inside the temple the sprawling campus is the first thing that we will notice. Dark clouds began to roll in again, but doesn't it really add spice to these otherwise normal pictures.
The vast amount of open spaces around the temple ensured that makeshift dining halls can be constructed by the marriage party for the lunch after marriage. Incidentally there were 3 marriages scheduled for the day.
Watch the plantain tree bearing the banana with a cocunut bunch firmly tied on to it placed at the entrance of the lunch hall, a traditional way of setting up the entrance for welcoming guests.
The sthoopam on top of the centre building which houses the diety was also having a classical touch.
Moved a little ahead and the profile of ancient temple was tooo good.
A look back to the building at the entrance showed that it is equally beautiful from inside as much as it is from outside.
The wedding ceremony was to take place at the other side of the temple.
The invitees were already seated at the venue, in front of the temple
It was time for the bride to arrive at the scene, traditionally dressed up girls carrying beautiful lamps led a small procession, at the end of which the beautifully dressed bride also entered the scene with her father.
The crowd was in not terms very big. The bride and groom seems to have taken great care on reducing any extravangance on the wedding and everything was done in a low key affair, but the bride and groom were really dashing that they had a grace on their own right in whatever they do.
A view of the crowd from the main entrance.
The decoration of the panthal was simple, but really eyecatching.
The ever familiar wedding tune was being played live. The "nadaswaram" and maddalam were in good hands and performers themselves were enjoying the show.
While the preliminary ceremony of offering flowers to God's was taking place, I again sneeked out through the main entrance of the temple.
This temple is actually an edathavalam (intermediate resting place) for the visitors to the divine Sabarimala ( Watch the beauty of Sabarimala Temple here). Distances to major temples which Sabarimala devotees may visit are clearly displayed at the main entrance.
Watch the opening of the main door, people have to really bow their heads to get inside, an architectural method of making all the entrants to this holy shrine to bow their heads when they gets in.
Wonderful architecture literally is an art, an art which can have its influence on the way people behave. I thought about the beautiful Golden temple at Coorg, the meditation hall which inspires the visitors to be silent without being warned by anyone to keep silent (Watch the golden temple here).
Another interesting thing was the presence of lot of fortune tellers around and the listeners were quite serious too, to know their future.
The clouds and sky were creating interesting patterns, some of them were really very inventive. Is it only my eyes or does the clouds give a third dimension to these two dimensional photos?
The thalikettu (tying of the wedding knot) time was approaching, as the musicians increased decibel levels as well as the frequency of the background score. One divine moment, a defining moment in the lives of bride and groom, for they are going to start a new phase of life. Flowers were showered on the couple as blessings. The bride and groom exchanged rings and garlands and it was time to pray in front of the diety and to take a round outside the temple (the customary pradakshinam).
The walk of the couple made us feel like they were going on for a leisurely evening stroll. We too followed them. This big tree cannot escape from my lens .
As we approached the main entrance again, the building at the gate again began to attract me, eventhough I took lots of photos earlier from all possible weird angles.
Soon there was slight drizzle, may be god's way of blessing the couple. Watch the rain drops falling down
The gold covered flag pole in the front of the temple seems to extend towards inifinity in the upward direction.
The flag pole is stationed in a small fenced area. Throwing red-bead seeds inside this small fenced area is a holy offering.
Statue of Nandi, a bull which is the vehicle of Lord Shiva according to Hindu mythology. carved out of rock adorns the place just in front of the flag post.
By this time the couple completed their stroll around the temple and people began to move to the lunch hall. Stupendous lunch followed suite, the polite behaviour of those serving food was worth mentioning here, a speciality of the mid Keralites it seems.
Soon the newly wed couple moved inside a small room for a photo session. I was dumpstruck to see that a mini studio was already up and running with adequate lighting. The photographers who came to shoot the event seems to be from the real professsional clan.
Spend some more time cracking jokes with the bride and groom. Finally it was time to move on. As we stepped out of the mini studio we could see a procession of deity around the temple (called sheeveli)
We were having some more fun time after the lunch and were planning to meet the couple once more before leaving.
All that is well may not end up well, as we had to leave the place quickly, since one of our friends developed vomiting and nausea due to some food alergy. Rushed him to a nearby hospital, but luckily everything was back to normal within a hour after he was given a dose of anti alergans. We all bid goodbye to each other and parted ways from the hospital.
The return trip via MC road was equally good as the rolling clouds were still spicing up the whole scene.
Enjoyed the drive through the traffic free sunday roads, the clouds and the occassional heavy rains.
It was a day when I learnt that cloudy day does add an attractive preposition to photos rather than making it dull. Felt really nice to see some of the budding professionals of the film field who chose their career path by themselves and not succumbing to the pressures of the family to go by the regular routine of engineering / medicine courses after passing out from school.
Wishing a very happy married life to Manu & Uma !!!!.
Hope to see this guy coming up with some brilliant creations for Indian film industry!!