Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wedding Celebration Borneo Style

It was great being back again in the Venning house - all the boys were there - even Michael, the oldest, whose room I had been sleeping in - and he let me stay there again this time, while he slept with his younger brothers! What a young gentleman!
It was great catching up, and taking stock of how the last few weeks had gone on the plantations, and talking about future Humana projects with Torben. I sure hope I can continue to contribute somehow, even when I return to the States!
The next morning we all got ready to leave to go to a wedding celebration at some of Rosalyn's family, so the whole family, including grandma, aunts and uncles were going, and we drove in several cars to fit everyone in!
We drove for a couple of hours, and arrived at a small village by the sea, parked the cars and then walked out along a boardwalk into a stilt village, where the wedding celebration took place. There were already lots of people, and tables were set up, women were busy cooking and serving the guests as they arrived. We were seated at a long table, and soon plates of food were brought over, water and chilled juice was served, and soon we were feasting on delicious fish dishes, curries, rice, trays with cookies, etc. People were coming and going and relatives and friends came up to greet and meet, and it was especially great to see how Rosalyn's Mom was so obviously enjoying seeing the family! Lots of relatives came over to hug and greet her, and everyone was having a good time, enjoying being together and celebrating a joyous family event!
A stage was set up with a very fancy golden bench where I was told the bride and groom would later be seated and honored like they were the king and the queen for the day.

I was lucky enough to get to accompany Rosalyn in to the bride's room to meet her and her bridal party, who were busy making her pretty. Despite cultural differences a very familiar scene for me having worked with getting brides ready for years - certain things are universal I think!

Outside her room her Dad and other prominent male family members were sitting in a circle and enjoying some food and probably discussing wedding matters. In an adjoining room the women were visiting.
Outside people kept coming and going, mingling and catching up with relatives and friends they might not have seen for years. Again, a familiar scene in spite of the cultural differences - funny how things can be so different, and yet so similar!

Kids were milling around posing for the camera and playing and having fun with each other. Babies (and some parents) were taking naps, grandmas were rocking babies gently to sleep, while a big sister takes a nap too!

Suddenly I notice that a procession of sorts is going on around the house where the bridal party is, and I am told it is the groom's party that has arrived carrying gifts in.

A little while later music starts and a couple of the aunts get up on the stage in front of the golden "bridal throne" and start dancing their traditional dance to the music. The dance and the music reminds me of a mix of the balinese dance I saw while in Ubud, and middle eastern belly dance - it's very beautiful and quite seductive!

After the two first dancers finish Rosalyn and one of her aunts take the stage, and the youngest son, Mathias joins his mom, not sure if he wants to join the dance or not! He obviously decides not, and looks quite miffed that mom continues to dance! I can see that she is a very experienced dancer as she graciously moves in tune to the music, and Torben tells me that she was taught the traditional dances of the remote Philippine island she was born on from she was around 5 years old by her grandmother. She has even performed at the Danish National Museum with her traditional dance performance as well as taught other Philippine women in Denmark to dance the graceful dance moves! She has obviously not forgotten her skills - it was a beautiful performance, and she was clearly enjoying dancing!

In the late afternoon we tore ourselves away from the celebrations, as Torben and Rosalyn had to take the oldest son, Michael to the airport so he could catch a flight back to Kuala Lumpur where he attends a boarding school, and the younger boys and I were going to go directly to Semporna where we were going to spend the night, and hopefully do some snorkeling the following day.

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