Thursday, January 22, 2015

Treehouse honors the wedding of old friends Bollywood style


Last weekend Fern Forest hosted an Indian wedding. I don’t mean literally. The wedding took place in Mumbai this past November. We were invited but unable to attend, but two months later we gave Sagar and Jahnvi a wedding gift of two nights in the Treehouse.
Last April when they first visited us, these two Jains fell in love. Sagar shares a dental practice with his father on Long Island and as is the Indian custom, he lives in his parents' house. When he invited Jahnvi to visit for a weekend, he wanted a romantic getaway sans parents.
Enter the Treehouse.
The two stayed for three nights, and we were delighted to see them again on a Friday in January. Even though temperatures dipped deeply below zero, they didn’t seem to mind. The Treehouse is heated and cozy.
After Saturday breakfast, they showed us pictures of the events leading up to the wedding. There was a Bollywood-style party with choreographed dances performed by the bride and groom and their friends. Jahnvi danced a solo to “A Thousand Years” from Twilight. Her graceful moves showed her yearning for her future husband. She wore churidar pants under a flowing tunic and danced barefoot. Everyone danced, in fact, and of course there was lots of Indian food.
One evening before the wedding Jahnvi hosted an outdoor mehndi party for women with tents of gauzy fabric where artists scrolled henna designs on wedding party and guests. Jahnvi’s elaborate tattoos extended from her fingertips nearly to her shoulders and from her feet to her knees in beautiful symbolic images.
The wedding day was brilliantly bright. Traditionally grooms ride to the ceremony on a horse—or an elephant if they’re extremely wealthy—but Sagar chose to walk with his family and friends so he could dance. There was a lot of mischievous role playing with Jahnvi’s mother trying to get the upper hand on Sagar by trying to pinch his nose and Jahnvi's friends and family trying to steal his shoes. The parents looped a rope loosely around the couple to symbolize their union.
In spite of laughter and silliness before the wedding, the ceremony itself was serious. Jahnvi looked amazing with the traditional nose ring linked to a gold chain attached to her hair. A line of sparkly jewels ran above her eyebrows, and a pendant graced the center of her forehead. Dangling earrings, a collar of gold and jewels, and dozens of bangles added to the stunning effect of her sari’s layered silks.
Sagar didn’t look to shabby either in gold colored tunic and shoes, red churidar pants and red turban. He carried a coconut wrapped in rich cloth, a sacred symbol of purity, cleanliness and health.
It would take nearly as long as the ceremony itself to describe the symbolic rituals. Let’s just say everyone looked joyful and festive.
The following night was the reception, at which Jahnvi wore a blue 25-pound skirt sewn with thick embroidery. The heavy fabric reached the floor and the petite bride had to stand next to her handsome groom, who was dressed in a tuxedo this time, for four hours while they greeted more than fifteen hundred guests. Even in the photos her diamond necklace, big as a baby’s bib, dazzled.
Obviously H and I missed a good time. But we enjoyed spending a few days with this special couple at Fern Forest. Saturday night they served us a delicious meal from an Indian restaurant in New York. Dahl and paneer makhani, jeera rice, raita, and four flavors of nan with plenty left over for our Sunday dinner.
Indians like to party, and we’re looking forward to a gathering in New York in April for their friends who couldn’t make the trip to Mumbai. It will be a celebration of their marriage but also the one-year anniversary of their union high up in the trees. It doesn’t get more romantic than that.

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