Ohhhh... my head hurts. I spent the whole day yesterday watching some friends entwining their futures, and that came hand in hand with a lot of rather nice wine.
These people are dear friends of my Best Beloved. They are Thai buddhists, and the groom had spent some time in the Canberra monastery here, as a part-time monk. Apparently you can do that, just spend 6 months in robes, fully participating in a monk's life, and then shed it all and go back to a 'normal' life. I'd say it would have an impact upon they way you conducted the rest of your life, if you took it seriously. I heard yesterday that a very common way for young men to behave when they first leave the monastery is to find a bottle of whiskey and some hot chicks.
It also seems that being born a buddhist is different to taking it on board later in life. I've met many westerners who have adopted buddhism and are very conscientious about shunning materialism etc. The bride in this couple loves expensive clothes, buys nothing but Crabtree and Evelyn home products, and has her home shrine to Buddha next to her handbag collection in the spare room. Mind you, she's an extremely sweet, kind, generous person, and takes her soul very seriously. She just likes pretty things.
Anyhoo, they had a blessing ceremony at the local Thai Buddhist temple in Lyneham (we got lost and wandered into the Vietnamese temple down the road -- it's a very religious street!) and because R. had been a monk there, the temple monks and community went all out. I found it wonderful -- kneeling in the dim room, watching them bow to the tall golden Buddha and light candles and incense, then bowing to the saffron/brown robed monks sitting in a row on a raised platform at the side. Buddha had a white cord tied around his thumb, which looped up to the ceiling rafters and across the room to the line of monks, who unravelled the cord across their laps and past the past one, and they held it in their hands while they chanted, so that by proxy they were all holding Buddha's golden hand.
As the ceremony was in Thai, we couldn't understand (BB knew some of it, being versed in a lot of religious cultures) but we joined into the periodic bowing, always in sets of three. Then we helped to feed the monks, each holding a bowl of hot rice and a spoon, placing some in each monk's large bowl as they passed. They sat back up on the platform and every person took a platter of food (brought in by the temple faithful) and offered it to the monks. Men could give their platter straight to the monks but we dirty women had to place our platters on a special piece of cloth, which the monks used to drag the food towards them. Then we got to feast, on wonderful food.
After the feasting came the watery blessing, where we had to kneel in front of the monks and they flicked blessed water at us with a straw broomy thing. Those monks are quite mischievous! They really enjoyed that part, and one in particular took great glee in flicking great gobs of water at the bride, whose hair was lacquered into an amazing shape for the secular ceremony to follow.
A few hours of peace followed where we all went home and changed into our fancy gear, then came the Great White Wedding. Ceremony at the Canberra Hyatt, reception at The Lobby, the posh restaurant in the parliamentary triangle which has been the scene of much political wheeling and dealing. Apparently both these venues are cheaper to hire on a sunday, so R & N got to have the fancy wedding of her dreams at a reasonable price. Still, it had ALL the trimmings, and would not have been very cheap!
So we partied hard, with four hours of an open bar, lashings of excellent food and a well-used dance floor. Many of you will know that BB does not dance. Ha. I managed to get him up for the 'all join into the bridal waltz' bit, and I was really proud of myself. But then I played my cards right. The disco music started, and BB's best friend asked me to dance. So we did. And we did. And we did. Finally BB couldn't stand it anymore, and he joined us. Readers, he boogied the night away. I can see why he doesn't like dancing, he doesn't have natural grace, but he was gorgeous, just because he was there. Hooray!
The last bit of fun was discovering that the bride had made an 'absolutely not' list for the DJ in case we decided to make requests. What a great idea! This was her list:
-- The Birdy Dance
-- Achy Breaky Heart
-- Come on Eileen
There was something else, but it was after my time and my brain couldn't retain it through the red wine haze. I think my list would be (on top of the first two above which are sheer common sense):
-- Tainted Love
-- Oh Mickey
-- My Sharona
-- anything by Buck's Fizz
Showing my age, I know. What would your list be?