Journeys are full of new experiences and knowledge overall. We travel in order to learn new things, get to know people and their customs, their history and view the country’s monuments and the nature. Speaking of that i experienced a unique moment in one of my journeys in Malaysia and more specifically in Kuala Lumpur.
It was during my first day while i was returning to my hotel, after spending a lot of hours in my first attempt to get a quick glance of the modern Asian Metropolis. I was walking on Jalan Tun H S Lee street, formerly known as Jalan Bandar street, when i heard very loud music from a place nearby. I moved towards the place of the music’s origin and i found my self in front of a Hindu temple!
The Sri Mahamariamman temple, is the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur and serves a very important role as a place of worship for the Indians that live in the multicultural Malaysia. It turned out that there was a wedding taking place the moment i was passing by the street. I had read a couple of things about the Hindu marriages and had also seen videos on the internet, however that was the very first time i had the opportunity to see one live!
Slowly, slowly i took a quick look form the temple’s entrance. You see since i respect all the religions and their believers, i didn’t want them to feel like i was some kind of uninvited intruder, a person that didn’t respect, with his presence, their culture and customs. Thus i took a photo from a distance, where i could see a crowded main hall along with the amazingly decorated interior of the temple.
Soon after, i took the liberty to enter the temple and after removing my shoes, come closer to the ceremony. People didn’t seem to be offended either by the uninvited tourist’s presence, nor by his decision to take some photos. Believe me i could’t resist! My photographer’s instinct forced me to pull my camera out and take some shots, in an attempt to capture the magnificence of this Hindu ceremony. Luckily the photos were allowed in the temple. Everyone was wearing very elegant and colorful outfits, especially the women that were wearing their best shiny, golden ornaments and pieces of jewelry. At the center of the hall the priest was sitting on the ground having right next to him the people’s offerings. Various foods on their plates, colorful fruits like bananas and pineapples were among the gifts people were offering for their prayers and as a devotion to the deities.
On his left hand the bride and the groom. I moved a bit more to get closer to them and people were kind enough to let me pass. An elder one actually showed me a spot right near the couple where i could sit down on the floor. His smile and his hand gesture, showing the spot, was some kind of reassurance for me that, although a tourist and a person of different religion, i could observe the ceremony! Practically i was their guest! I felt so honored! Right there in front of the priest and the couple i could see everything! The happy couple was so beautiful! Dressed stylishly for this special moment in their life were indeed a perfect match! The bride was wearing golden jewels of fine craftsmanship and the groom a simple yet elegant white mundu (traditional clothes). They both had garlands of flowers around their necks!
I watched the rest of the wedding and although i couldn’t understand the ritual i was fascinating by the ceremony itself! The couple was sharing food and drink and accepting gifts from their families! Their relatives were present right near them and they had an intense participation in the ritual. I kept taking photos, capturing all the amazing moments i was a part of them, feeling blessed and lucky.
Just before the end of the ceremony i decided to leave since it was time for the rest of the guests to give their wishes to the couple. I had a lot of photos and many more memories as a reminder of this unique ( for me ) experience. An experience that made me smile and feel great since that’s what i seek in my journeys. Meeting people, learning their customs, becoming a part of their culture. Really what else can i traveler ask for??
PS: I wish the married couple happiness, luck and prosperity. I want to thank all those people that let me be a part of their ceremony and i would like them to excuse me in case i accidentally offend their belief with my presence.