Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Wedding of Trees

The Wedding of Trees -- Emily and Kalpabatta
Today I did a collaborative piece with the artists from Orissa... We had a marriage between my daughter the tree and Kshitish's son the tree. (My tree's name was Emily) Why would we marry trees? Welllllllllll.... in India there is a tradition of marrying trees...(true story!) If someone wants to marry his or her love and there is a problem with their horoscope, if they marry the love, the love will die. SO they first marry a tree (there are male and female species of you didn't know that!!) The wedding is the real thing complete with guests, food, music, priest, the works. The tree apparently absorbs the the bad stuff and allows the person to marry their love without knocking them off.

THEN, once married, if the couple is having trouble getting married, are unhappy, having any sort of problems, they call upon the trees again. This time, they have a marriage between a male tree and a female tree (again, full-blown marriage)... they plant the trees together ... and they, once again, do their magic (a lot cheaper that infertility treatments or marriage counseling, eh??)

So, we had a marriage between two trees (I crocheted a LOVELY red and gold outfit for the bride)... It was really cool... they went through an entire (but small) Hindu wedding ceremony.... took red paste and put between our eyes and then pressed rice into it... then did to all the guests (we had 20 or so... an intimate affair, you know)

The priest chanted in Hindi... some of the artists played drums and tamborines and sang in the background... the priest had us put marriage crowns on the trees, and thread bracelets... the lady who hosted the wedding brought the tree couple gifts of bangles and saris and material and money.... she danced and sang whenever the mood struck her... others in the audience joined in... we danced with the trees around the wedding table (a low table with red cloth... oranges on 3 corners, grapes on the 4th... a spiral shell filled with red liquid and a flower -- obvious reference to virginity -- a small God figure) seven times and then the woman put tikkas on the trees brows and voila! the marriage was over!

Afterwards (during the many obligatory photos after any event that involves white people) the lady and I talked and both agreed that what would really be happening at that point is that the bride would be crying and begging her mother not to make her go live with the groom.... we were wailing while Kshitish tugged on "Emily" ..hilarious.

The drummers led our dancing wedding party to the place where we planted the trees (down a dirt path, through the kitchen tent where 3 cooks were stirring massive pots of rice and vegetables). The trees were planted together in one hole, intertwined... and we all dumped panfuls of water on them while the drummers drummed and the men wrapped their arms around each other and danced around the tree... then the women joined in and I am now, once again, the "dancing white woman"..adored by all... One Indian artist said, "When you dance you are like a flower slowly opening.." Hahaha... sooo sweet!

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