Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Hindu Wedding in Panamá

So it seems I have a few more things to touch on before I'll feel satisfied and can move on from Panamá. A fun one:

The reason we started our adventure in Panama City 

is because John's good friend from college, Gerald, and his fiancée, Piali, decided to have a destination wedding in Panama. Gerald's father was stationed at the Panama Canal back in the day, and Gerald's mom is Panamanian. I only first met G&P the day before they got engaged, but I was (am) lucky enough to be John's +1, so I got to enjoy the festivities too.

We stayed at the resort where the wedding was being held for three nights, as it was John's last chance to we hang out with his friends for who knows how long. A couple of them I knew (and loved) already but meeting and hanging out with more was great. I haven't been to too many weddings outside my family and was a little relieved to feel so welcomed by Gerald and Piali and the Madison Motorsports gang (the club that "the boys" were all part of/founded at JMU).

I'm having trouble not turning this into a novel with all the potential backstories!

The resort, Playa Bonita, was quite fancypants and our room had an exceptional view:

On the horizon you can just make out cargo ships waiting their turn to go through the Canal

Oh yes.

But the WEDDING, now that was cool. 

My sisters both had nontraditional weddings but this was my first time at a wedding that was solidly grounded in a different culture. Soooooooo interesting. I didn't take a picture of the program (stupid!) but it was an abridged Hindu wedding - apparently the traditional version lasts all day.

The officiator did a really good job of translating into English and explaining things, but in the end I think I'd have to read a 1000 page book to start to get a sense of what all the different parts signified, as an outsider to the culture. For example, Piali had to step on and break seven(?) "bowls." In her bare feet. Clearly these were special bowls. And there were a lot of water offerings for various things, which from my vantage point looked like dipping a flower in water and then flicking the flower to make the water come off. Don't see that very often in the part of the world I come from. Why a flower? Is the flower significant or is it just a pretty thing to dip in the water?

My favorite part was the water offering for universal peace. Universal peace! What a noble goal for a wedding ceremony! Suddenly it's not only about family and community coming together to support two people, it's about everyone and everything. How ridiculously cool is that? Why don't we have those?

Maybe some day I'll be lucky enough to get to see a full length wedding (after reading up on it!), but I have to say I was rather relieved I wasn't transformed into a freshly boiled lobster by a full day in the hot Panamanian sun.

And of course, in keeping with longstanding wedding tradition John and I were scrambling at the last second, and I forgot to bring a camera. Fortunately, John had his phone and we did get a few photos.

Piali's Mom placing a garland of flowers on Gerald 
Breaking the bowls?

I am grateful I had the opportunity to be there, and they're a good match (very lively, nice couple) so I wish them many many happy years together.

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I might need to do one more Panamá post before I can dig in to Santiago, but that's a good thing because I haven't been here long enough to do anything worth talking about!

Until next time - ciao!

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