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A Bali beach wedding

What could be better than spending the most important day of your life in Bali with memories of white beaches, golden sunsets and vast blue waters

When two young people decide that they want to be married, "Far from the Madding Crowd", where do they go? They go where there is peace, swaying palms and nature in all its generous wonder – well Bali is certainly a beautiful place to begin a new life! So, when I was invited to Gaurab and Malti's wedding in Bali, I was very happy to attend. So much has been said and written about the place - I had to find out and experience for myself.

It was July, when the gentle breeze off the coast of Australia cools the archipelago of Indonesia and Bali gets the best of it. We were picked up at Den Pasar by Made (pronounced: Maadhey), our driver who greeted us with a big smile and frangipani garlands. I was bowled over by the fragrance and the gesture and refused to take it off!

Our hotel in Pecatu, the Swiss bel Resort was truly exclusive and beautifully placed., with its own little golf course and terraced gardens and, of course, frangipani trees all around. One had to sit and breathe in the tranquility of it all. There was a group of women who had come in from the island of Surabaya—beautiful, elegant women who were celebrating their 50th birth year, far away from home and families to just be together and have fun!

When you think of a beach wedding, you think of soft sands, swirling incoming tides, setting sun and glorious vibrant colors. But this wedding was at a resort, atop a cliff. The Anugrah Villa has a unique charm about it—far removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown, it was a perfect place for the wedding. The sea and the sunset in all its glory were stunning, but it was subdued compared to the radiance and glory of the bride and the groom. They were serene, encompassed by immediate family and truly loved ones, who showered their blessings along with the rose petals! A gentle and romantic evening rounded off with excellent food! After the wedding, we moved to the Grand Livio in Kuta

Bali is an amazing place and I don't mean its people or its weather or its clean beaches and streets. The fact that in the predominantly Islamic state of Indonesia, this little island of tranquility has a population that is 87% Hindu. In front of every house, shop, hotel, or any business establishment there is a temple that has a sarong in black and white checks tied around it. Every day every member of the house does his pooja before he leaves for work. Made (pronounced Maadhey), our driver for the four days we were at the Grand Livio carried his little basket of offerings in the car we were traveling. Yet he is also practical. On one turn the little basket flew off the dashboard and landed at the feet of my brother in law. When we got off, he collected the stuff and put it in a garbage bin! Every roundabout in all the heavy populated areas of Ubud and Kuta has these very well sculpted statues of gods and goddesses from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The one that struck me as really artistic and unusual was the one where Ghatotkach was shown battling Karna.

Statues of Ganesha dot the landscape while the highest statue on Bali is that of Garuda carrying Vishnu on his back at the Garuda Wisnu Kenchana en route Pecatu.

The Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park is a great tourist attraction and we find ourselves looking at three exquisitely sculpted statues straight out of Hindu Mythology. There is Rishi Kashyap, Garuda's father. On one side stands Winata, Rishi Kashyap's wife. On the other stands Kerdo, Garuda's wife. Outside on a lush green stretch of lawn stand these gigantic sculptures of eggs, painted gold and white. I stopped to listen as a Korean man explained the story of Garuda to his wife and children and made my own connections to the Ramayana.

We witness the Kecak dance at the Uluwatu temple where prayers are held regularly. The dance tells the story of Sita apharan (kidnapping) from Dandakaranya, the presence of Hanuman, the battle with Ravana, and his death. The show has everyone enthralled—people from other countries could follow the story as they had been given printed leaflets with a brief outline of what was being enacted.

We had to make peace with the volcano—yes Indonesia has a couple of live volcanoes and Kintamani is one of the 'not so live' volcanoes. A distant view of the volcano is enough for us while we enjoy a Balinese lunch of rice and egg curry in coconut milk.

Made tells us he recites the gayatri mantra thrice a day. He is a happy smiling person who laughs and jokes about Hindi movies and loves Preety Zinta and Madhuri Dixit. Of course, he thinks Shah Rukh Khan is 'very handsome'.

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