A Very Scottish Wedding
"I can't see anything --- its pitch dark!” “I know,” said my husband and then added reassuringly, “Just wait a while and your eyes will get accustomed to the darkness.” Somehow those words were less comforting than he had intended especially when the silhouette of the castle loomed up on my right. It suddenly hit me that we were standing on a path (which I could not see) on the grounds of an old Scottish castle in the middle of 2000 acres of woodlands and countryside! These are times when a less active and colourful imagination than my own would have been extremely desirable! I expected some headless horseman to gallop out of the darkness or to hear the wails of a murdered scullery maid bemoaning her untimely demise. This was enough for me to grab my husband's arm and run in the general direction of the cottages where we were staying regardless of the fact that I could barely see my own hand in front of me.
You may be wondering what on earth we were doing running around the grounds of a Scottish Castle in the middle of the night. Well it just so happened that we were there for my cousin's wedding. As she lives in Glasgow and her husband to be is a Scotsman, Scotland was the obvious choice for the wedding to take place. So around 35 members of our family descended upon the unsuspecting locals of a little town called Maybole, and set up camp in a group of cottages on the grounds of Blairquhan Castle. Once we had settled into our respective cottages, we were able to take stock of our surroundings and found to our utter delight that the castle was a few hundred yards from our door step and that we were situated in a vast expanse of greenery with a river flowing through the estate. The cottages my uncle had hired were delightful and housed between 4 10 people and my husband and I were designated a cottage called “Wauchope” with my cousins and their spouses.
As for the children, they were excited enough as it is to be spending time with their cousins but to add to that there were a whole host of activities for them during the day. Either they were busy cycling around the castle, playing football with the “laird's” (lord) children or pushing each other on the swings. The adults themselves were just as occupied exploring the stunning flower gardens and grounds, fishing in the river, and when possible taking the bikes and going off themselves. Being an extremely close knit family, we were in our element as we were able to spend quality time with one another, coming in and out of each other's cottages, sitting around chatting, having our meals together and basically just chilling out. It was almost idyllic. I say almost as at night time it did get a little bit spooky with the wind howling outside, doors suddenly slamming shut, and even sounds of footsteps after everyone was tucked in their beds. So as you can understand, my imagination was only fuelled by these incidents especially on my walk back from my cousins' cottage which was adjacent to the castle, on the above mentioned night.
The wedding itself was one of most enjoyable I have had the pleasure of attending in a long time. When we arrived at the venue, bedecked in our saris and jewellery, we were surprised to find some of the local residents had stopped on the street to take a look at this rather unusual spectacle. I suppose it was strange seeing a huge number of women clad in colourful saris and men in black achkans in the middle of a Scottish town. I almost felt like we should wave or something! As we entered the hall where the marriage ceremony was to take place, we were greeted by the groom's family and friends kitted out in the Scottish traditional outfit --- the kilt (a skirt worn by men). In fact most of the men there were wearing the kilt in their respective family colours. One of the most distinctive features of the authentic Scottish kilt is the tartan pattern, and many of these patterns have come to be associated with Scottish clans or families. So each clan may have their own tartan and colours. There are also tartans for districts, counties, schools and universities.
However, there are some simple generic patterns that anybody can wear. Typically a kilt is accessorised with a belt, jacket and sporran (a type of pouch). Who said men could not look dashing in skirts! If only lungis in our country looked as good! The wedding ceremony was lovely and my cousin looked radiant, beautiful and happy as did her husband. The trees shimmered in the light and the sun streamed in through the windows giving the room an almost magical feel to it. We were even treated to a surprise visit from a well known bagpipe band and had a taste of traditional Scottish music. What more could one ask for.
Our newest brother in law being a Scotsman, we were all looking forward to attending a wedding with a Scottish flavour, something none of us had had the pleasure of doing before. What we had not anticipated was that the groom's family would want us to participate in their traditional “ceilidh” (kaylee) dancing and the day before the wedding our entire family was given a crash course in this particular form of dancing. The general format of ceilidh dancing consists of four couples, with each pair facing another in a square or rectangular formation. Each couple exchanges position with the facing couple, and also facing couples exchange partners, while all the time keeping in step with the beat of the music. Now, I can barely keep up with basic aerobics steps, let alone steps for four different dances. So it was quite a challenge for all of us to try and imitate the steps our brother in law was showing us. I am sure to any observer, it would have been highly amusing watching us going left when we were supposed to go right, banging into one another and generally doing a great job of creating chaos and havoc on the dance floor. But we tried our best to absorb as much as we could in the limited time as we were expected to participate in the dancing that was to take place the following day. I am happy to say that on the day we managed to do ourselves justice and did not make total and utter fools of ourselves in front of the groom's family. It was actually immensely enjoyable and I think by the end of the evening we were thoroughly exhausted and greatly entertained. Like Cinderella, we stayed at the wedding till midnight and then made our long journey back to the cottages, with everyone mulling over the festivities of the evening.
We remained in Scotland for a day after the wedding but before we knew, it was time for us to head back home and it was with a slightly wistful heart that we packed our bags. It had been a wonderful few days and I was sorry to say goodbye, except possibly to the headless horseman and the scullery maid...
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