A Disgrace of a Kandyan Wedding
Posted on September 30th, 2017

– Kumari Courtesy Ceylon Today

Much in the news is a Kandyan wedding conducted on a public road, the Gannoruwa Road, which many vehicle drivers take on their way from Kandy to Colombo to avoid passing through the busy town of Peradeniya just past the bridge. This dame is not sure it was a genuine wedding or a false one. But the intention of it was not for a man and woman to bind themselves together for love and honour till death do them part. It was to get into the Guinness World Records (formerly the Guinness Book of Records). Don’t collapse with shock until Kumari makes it worse by saying that they, whoever THEY were, wanted to have the longest train of a bride, not coachchiya but material trailing behind.

3.2 kilometres of material trailing from the bride

To get to the nitty gritties of the nefarious business: THEY wanted the bride in their organized wedding to trail the longest stretch of material behind her as she walked, not up the church isle but along a public road in the Kandyan Hill Capital, no less. Now the train is usually the bottom of the hem of a dress that is made extra long so it trails along behind the wearer as she walks. Our brides usually wear sari, so the veil she wears is made to trail far behind her. Now a Kandyan bride wears no wail. She is in a sari draped Kandyan style and there is no accommodation for a train to trail behind her. But THEY of Kandy wanted to create a record to get into the Guinness World Records and this through a sari pota. So they sewed 3.2 km of material to the end of the pota that falls over one shoulder. It usually reaches up to the ankles, fashionably, but less long if the sari is not long enough. In the traditional Kandyan drape this pota is pointed. How fix 3.2 km to a point of a Manipuri, Benares or embroidered sari. So the pota must have been wide at the bottom (or end).

250 girls to hold the sari pota aloft

The next consideration – what to do with the 3.2 km of material behind the bride? Let her drag it along as she walked on the arm of the thuppotti draped bridegroom? No, not done. Someone would have thought up the idea of having girls acting as traditional maids who held the veil aloft as the bride walked into the church or hotel aisle. From where to get the girls ? Why ever so conveniently – from the Hon Sarath Ekanayake, Chief Minister of the CP’s school. So 250 tiny girls were corralled to participate in the wedding from the Alawatugoda Sarath Ekanayake Junior School; 100 of the prettiest to be the maids dressed in red half sari and carrying the first bit of the train and the other 150 lined up in the middle of the Gannoruwa Road holding aloft the rest of the 3.2 km of material.

Magul perahera

On Monday 25 September the 250 small girls of the afore mentioned school were woken up long before dawn to get ready for school. By 3 a.m. they were ready at school. Then a hundred were dressed as bridesmaids and the rest made to line up along the Gannoruwa Road. Say they took up stations at 8.00 am, say they had to line up, hold a piece of the material and bake in the sun till the decked bride and her groom went along, she trailing not only 3.2 km of material but 250 little girls behind her. And that was a wedding to beat all weddings with Sarath Ekanayake present in a resplendent, glistening shervani-type coat sewn specially for the occasion as the fashion tailor said over TV. Teachers and parents looked on, so also a surely beaming school principal; prideful she had got the business done as requested by the politician.

Consequences

Yours truly does not know whether the entry to the book of world records was successfully accomplished. You need judges et al to verify a so far held record was broken, but some heads are going to be cracked. Jolly good too, only as always happens the worst offender’s head may remain safe while those of minions’ will roll. The principal of the junior school is bound to get it in the neck, not only from the Education Department but from the Child Protection Authority too.

Questions are asked by the Education Ministry of the Central Province and probably subsequently from the high ups in Colombo as to how a school day was devoted to such a gimmick. With whose permission? The namesake of the school will probably shake his head and say he knew nothing about it and was only invited for the wedding and attended it. The teachers will keep mum, playing safe from all sides. “We were told to get all the children ready for the procession by such and such a time (never mind it being predawn) so parents are to blame for bringing the children.” The parents will surely picket in protest with raised placards – against or for the principal. If asked individually, they will point either to their child’s teacher or a parent with a finger of accusation: “She told me to do this.” And so the buck of blame will move around. Maybe the pretend groom and his bride will be blamed though they were only actors in the staged drama.

The children? Poor dears, they really were tortured in several ways. They had to get up far too early, to go to school and then stand in the blazing sun for many hours. Wonder how many fainted; how many got sun stroke and surely all were dead hungry after having had very early breakfasts, maybe only a glass of milk or a cup of tea, and hours sunbathing.

The officers of the Child Protection Authority will hopefully bear down on the school with the accusation the wedding was torture and did harm to little helpless, innocent children. Answers to questions may well be in the normal pattern of now:

“I don’t know,” “I don’t remember,” “She told me to do this so I did it”.

And in the end it may all end up as a puss vedilla a la Siri Lanka!

– Kumari

2 Responses to “A Disgrace of a Kandyan Wedding”

  1. Nimal Says:

    My vital business appointment in Colombo was delayed by this stupid act where our entire lane was closed for this event and we were forced to use the opposite incoming lane. Country is truly lawless and the politicians and officials are not accountable to the people and we the people are nobody just like during the pre British era. We want the colonial types back to give our country back to us.

  2. Wetta Says:

    Regardless of whether they managed to break a saree-drape record, I heard from a reliable source that the Guinness Book of Records decided to enter the names of those who organised this event as the most stupid people in the world.

    At least they got one record, thanks heavens!

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