Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Speedy and Savittree

One of the most beautiful things in the world is a wedding; it fills everyone with a sense of optimism. The world can be falling apart but it seems love will always find a way to bring people’s spirits up. This weekend I was at my close friend and co-worker Speedy Arnold’s wedding to his lovely wife Savittree. Actually the two got married in Georgia USA last year, but now it was time to do the Thai traditional wedding for Savittree’s family and friends. It was an amazing fusion of East meets West.
Speedy has just been working with us at Satit Kaset for one year, but he has already made a lot of friends and many of us showed up to help him celebrate his love. In truth these two are almost never apart and are the kind of couple most of us just say, “Wow, if there is such a thing as a soul mate, they have found theirs.”
Thai weddings are filled with ceremony. I find in Thailand they love to shorten phrases and words, but when it comes to shortening a celebration or a ceremony they really can’t see the point. It begins, as most things in Thailand do, with a dawn blessing by 9 monks. Following the monks’ prayers and then their eating, the friends of the groom form a parade to bring him to the home village, obviously ceremonial now day, to ask for his bride. Along the way we are stopped by her family members and elders who demand we not pass without paying them a small bribe. The envelope is given to them and then they pull back their beads and allow us to pass. Finally he arrives at his bride and is welcomed into her home.
There are many other little steps. At one point the bride is hidden by a close family member and the groom must go through the guests in search of his love. There is a fertility ritual which really goes back, before Buddhism even, where guests offer a blessing by poring water from a shell over the hands of the couple. One of the most interesting is the presentation of the dowry, a plate full of money and gold. There is no real dowry usually in modern Thailand; however, it still does exist in some of the villages outside the city. My favorite ceremony of all is the blessing of the wedding bed. Here the eldest couple at the wedding is asked to lie on the new sheets of the couple and sort of bless the bed. Then the couple gets on the bed and remains in the room for 9 minutes. This is just GOOD LUCK.
But don’t get the idea that all of this is some kind of serious and stressful event where everyone must kneel and bow and stay quiet all the time. Come on now, this is Thailand, even while things are going on with the couple everyone around is sipping on beers or whiskey and eating food and chatting and laughing. It is an upbeat function which is meant to be enjoyed by all.
Beers at 8:30 in the A.M.? Why not, it’s hot enough in Thailand once the sun comes up to feel like it’s the afternoon. ENJOY YOUR LIFE TOGETHER SPEEDY and SAVITTREE!