Updated: Jul 21, 2019
I was to complete a live painting at the wedding of Hari and Manasa, as a gift for the bride and groom. I travelled to Hyderabad in India for the ceremony.
Travelling to India & Arrival
I travelled to Hyderabad in India for the ceremony with limited clothes due to half my suitcase being taken up with paints and a canvas, I carried my easel through the airport and onto the flight.
Flights to India usually are not direct so we stopped off in Oman for our flight connection to Hyderabad.
After a 14 hour trip our host picked us up from the airport to take us for Lunch at typical Indian restaurant - everyone eats with their hands which was a little tricky when you're used to a knife and fork, but I gave it a go. After dropping us off at the hotel for a quick nap (we were 5 hours ahead in Hyderbad) our host, Kiran took us to the mall to get traditional Indian attire.
Dinner in the evening - a dish of many different curries, pastes, rice and breads. Each one was bursting with flavours. It was all extremely tasty but I couldn't handle much of it with my dull western palate.
All of the drinks and a lot of the food had an extremely high sugar content - we were told there was a bit of problem with sugar in India and most foods and drinks are very sweet.
Getting kitted out with full Indian attire at the Mall was a source of great amusement for me, especially watching dad trying to squeeze into trousers meant for someone with much skinnier ankles. The shoes, as well, were not designed for someone for such wide feet.
I made sure I got some jewellery: bangles, earrings and a necklace. I'm not used to wearing it in the UK, but knew it was a big thing in India, especially at weddings. I attempted to tie my own Saree by watching a youtube video only to arrive at the wedding the next day and whisked off to a side room where the ladies helped me to re-tie it.
The Wedding Ceremony
I was to complete a live painting at the wedding of Hari and Manasa, as a gift for the bride and groom. I was very excited as this was going to be my first experience of a traditional Indian Wedding and it did not disappoint. The day was so colourful! There’s every colour you can imagine which makes for a really exciting painting. I love painting florals and there were plenty of flowers everywhere.
There were so many rituals on the day that it was difficult to keep up with them and paint at the same time.
Painting was really a bit of a challenge in the heat – I could feel hundreds of eyes on me from the crowd and the heat made me sleepy and cause the paints to thicken very quickly making each brush stroke increasingly difficult as the paint on the canvas turned to a paste.
With hundreds of people present at the event there were 3 large screens displaying the ceremony, filmed by a large team of photographers, so that everyone could see what was going on. It was a bit like being at a football match!
Some of the traditions I spotted included:
- The couple exchange floral garlands called the Jai Mala. This is the moment that they become husband and wife.
- The couple must ‘find the star’ – which was difficult on the day as it was raining. Everyone was joking that they had to pretend to see it.
- The bride usually wears red as this symbolises the rising sun, prosperity and fertility.
We went up onto the stage to give our best wishes to the bride and groom and take a photo with them. Others were sprinkling rice over their heads, when I went to grab a handful I was told it wasn’t for me as I am not married – whoops.
All the kids were fascinated by the live painting and were coming to sit with me and watch, I’m hoping at least one of them would be inspired to continue their own art-work or painting as a career as the arts aren’t always encouraged at school, where sciences and technical subjects are favoured.
We danced with sticks, something that I didn't get quite right and had a few people pushing and pulling me in the right direction with me oblivious as to what I was supposed to be doing.
On the day after the wedding we went to a place called Shilparamam which is an arts and crafts village located in Madhapur. The village was conceived with an idea to create an environment for the preservation of traditional crafts. Here I had my hand decorated with traditional henna tattoos and picked up some souvenirs.
Another day exploring included a visit to the Peddamma Temple, a Hindu Temple at Jubilee Hills. As were stepped out the car, we heard a goat squealing- it was part of a sacrifice ceremony.
We took our shoes off before the entrance and once inside we were trying to figure out some of the rituals that were going on. There were barrels of dry rice, people pacing around the centre of the temple counting their steps and some were sat cross-legged on the floor. Outside, someone was blessing what looked like a brand-new rick-saw taxi car, with their entire family present. We witness them smashing a watermelon on the floor and decorating the car with flowers.
Next up was my favourite visit of the day: The Qutb Shahi Tombs located in the Ibrahim Bagh (Garden precinct). They contained the tombs and mosques built by the various kings of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty. In the centre of each tomb is a sarcophagus which overlies the actual burial vault in a crypt below. The domes were originally overlaid with blue and green tiles, of which only a few pieces now remain.
Golconda Fort in Hyderbad is a citadel and fort that was the capital of the medieval of the Qutb Shahi dynasty (c.1512-1687) The region is known for the diamond trade that had produced some of the world's most famous gems, including the Koh-i-Noor and the Hope Diamond.
The Salar Jung Museum: an art museum located at Dar-ul-Shifa, on the southern bank of the Musi River.
NTR Gardens opposite the Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderbad with the impressive N.T.Rama Rao's Memorial. Here we finished our site-seeing tour and were so tired we lay on the grass for an hour before being taken back by our driver to the hotel.
TOP TIP : DO NOT GIVE YOUR CAMERA AWAY TO A TOUR GUIDE...
or you end up being forced to pose for over 20 photos....
all I wanted to do was sit and sketch!
Congratulations to the bride and groom : Hari and Manasa on thier marriage and a huge thank you to our host Kiran (a friend of Hari's) who looked out for us, and planned a sight-seeing trip for us whilst we were staying in the city.
Finishing the Painting
I spent our final few days finishing the painting by the hotel pool, which was such a perfect day. I could cool off in the pool when it got too hot and paint listening to gentle music.