The Chalakudy river flowed calmly in the background as slow music played. It was the perfect wedding setting for Naveen Shamsudhin and Janne Raun, who exchanged rings and necklaces in the presence of their close friends and family. It was a small, beautiful wedding that took place on Saturday in the sprawling forests of Athirappilly, among a gathering of less than 70 persons.
The event was very special for Naveen, who teaches Robotics at a university in Switzerland, and Janne, a nurse and yoga instructor from Germany.
“The Western concept of marriage is quite different from the Indian version. Marriage is not a necessity for two persons to live together. In fact, people there marry for various other reasons such as tax cuts. Since both of us have diverse cultural backgrounds, it was very important for us to do it differently. So it was not the normal ceremony-food-disperse pattern. We wanted our families to get to know each other well,” says Naveen, who has been with Janne in Switzerland for the past three years.
The wedding was a four day-three night affair. They booked rooms in the government-run Plantation Valley Resort in Athirappilly, spent a day for the preparations, a day for the wedding, stayed over for another day and held a reception on the last day. Except for the wedding, the food was from the nearby thattukada.
“Usually, weddings here happen indoors; the guests have food and leave. We wanted them to spend more quality time together. Also, we decided to avoid an event management team; we didn’t want to be guests at our own wedding,” explains Naveen, son of Shamsudhin, an artist and former news photographer, and Wahida, a manager at a freight firm.
Organising the wedding contributed much to the bonding factor. Naveen’s brother Nitin helmed the music department, his mother handled the invitations, the accommodation, transportation and decoration were taken care of by his aunt and Janne decorated the altar on the riverside with a circular floral arch made using the wood and plants collected from the premises.
“It was an eco-friendly event. Instead of recreating nature indoors, by placing flowers and plants, we decided to do it the ‘natural’ way and chose real plants and eco-friendly materials. Instead of ‘tying the knot’, we exchanged necklaces, rings and our vows. The wedding was followed by a short speech by the family members. The loveliest part was the dance. Malayalees are usually very conscious about their bodies and control their movements. But we got everyone to shake a leg. We are happy that all of them enjoyed it very much,” he says.
Asked about his wife, Naveen says, “She is creative, calm and excellent, working with her hands and body in her practice as a nurse and yoga instructor. We complement each other well.”
The two had been travelling and living in Indonesia for four months after quitting their jobs and will move back to Switzerland on August 23. Did a Malayalee boy marrying a German girl cause uproar in the family?
“There was initial reluctance among my extended family. But our parents are open to our choices. If one believes in something, others, if they agree or not, accept it. We are free to choose our beliefs and life. However, the wedding has made them happy,” he says.
He adds they were very lucky as throughout those days, it didn’t rain. “Or else, it would have been a true Monsoon Wedding,” he laughs....