The marriage blessing Rajasthan, India
For India enthusiast Colin Habgood, Rajasthan was the obvious place for a 50th birthday party, but when he and Jill Longson decided to get married in Jersey, Rajasthan was the top choice for a marriage blessing too.
India grabs you, envelops you, captivates you and entices you back again and again. Of all the countries and cultures and accompanying experiences that could be had, there was nowhere that could rival India for a birthday celebration – we knew that for sure having been there so many times before.
As intense as India is, it is even more glorious when you take two dozen friends for a week. Enhance it with a mystery tour of varied locations and activities, layer it with a smorgasbord of nationalities, travel history and patience levels, add some exhilaration with the odd hair-raising bus ride, and finally throw some paint at it in true Hindu festival style, and you have probably one of the most memorable weeks of your life. The desert camel rides and impromptu race around Jodhpur in 14 tuk-tuks seemed comparatively tame in the mix.
But for us, the Hindu marriage blessing was the icing on the cake, or should that be the extra hot chilli in the curry? India feels like a spiritual home to us and it seemed highly appropriate to have our civic marriage blessed there. We had just got married the week before in Jersey, a relatively low-key, quiet, family affair. Most friends missed out on this and had no idea what was planned to surprise them in Rajasthan.
Roop at Cox & Kings couldn’t have done more to make it all so special – from the magical musicians and the pandit (Hindu priest) to the romantic and remote desert setting and the advice on the appropriate attire. Even choosing our clothes was a joy akin to the cultural experiences of tea and haggling. At one point I looked just like Imran Khan, while Jill simply had to be Chaka Khan!
The blessing itself was profound and moving, if not slightly baffling. Musicians, dancers and friends gathered outside our tent at sunset – most of them not knowing why. When we appeared – Jill in full red Sari and me in Punjabi suit and turban – the rupee (so to speak) dropped and everyone cheered. We were escorted into the middle of the camp to a gazebo brightly decorated with flowers. The pandit placed a coin smeared with henna between our hands and elaborately wrapped them together. The ceremony itself followed – a series of Hindu mantras, walking together around the fire, and other important symbolic gestures mostly involving artefacts being sacrificed in the fire.
We looked at each other, we looked at our friends, the camels all looked on at us in mild confusion, and the wonderment of what we were doing sunk in. It was truly beautiful. At the end of the ceremony, our friends came up to us one by one, bindis placed on their foreheads too, and each blessed with flower petals as the day turned to dusk. How magical can you get?
The blessing was profound, but the light mood returned as we moved on to Udaipur to celebrate Holi, the colourful Hindu paint-throwing festival. And talk about colour – most of it seemingly thrown or placed on us in a treat of Indian friendliness, warmth and fun. It was the ideal end to a perfect week.
So we were indeed enveloped, captivated and grabbed by India again. It could not have been more special. And frankly we’re pretty relieved that Holi happened after the blessing, or our bright red hair would have matched the colour of Jill’s sari!
View Cox & Kings Tailor-Made holidays to India.