Sunday, June 3, 2018

Saturday: Funeral and Bridal Shower

Friday night, I had planned to go to bed by 1:00 a.m., or shortly thereafter.  I posted my blog post by 11:30 p.m., corresponded with a friend, played a game or two of sudoku, and then, around 1:00 a.m., when I should have said my nightly devotions and gone to bed, I decided to make a card for the bridal shower!  I hadn't made it earlier in the evening (when I should have) and I wasn't sure if there would be enough time to make a card after coming back from the funeral on Saturday.  So, out came the card-making supplies, including the scrapbooking papers I am using for card-making.

I had looked online for bridal shower card inspiration, earlier in the day.  And seen something I thought I could do with some paper I already had.  Except, when I looked through my stock of paper, I realized that I had used up that particular piece of paper on previous cards and projects.  Oh, well.  I'll just use what I had, instead!  There was a strip of silver paper I had saved from a wedding invitation I had received, recently, for another cousin's daughter's wedding, so that strip of paper was pressed into use!  I drew a heart on a piece of paper and cut it out and used that as a stencil to draw and cut out the hearts making the dress.  A heart shaped punch would have helped, but I don't have any punches, so cut everything by hand.  There was just enough silver paper for the hearts and the bow at the waist was fashioned from a bit of scrap paper that was leftover from between the hearts!  The sequins are from a bag of mixed sequins someone gave me and the rhinestones are leftovers from some I bought for one of daughter's dance costumes when she took dance classes (that particular dance studio closed when she was still in high school, and I still have half a card of rhinestones left!)

Bridal Shower Card
(I hope I am not breaking any copyrights laws by posting a picture of my card.  I do thank the people who posted their cards online to inspire the rest of us.  I varied the design slightly from the one I saw online.)

I inserted the gift notification inside the card.

By the time I finished making the card (it took me longer than I had anticipated), put all the supplies back in the containers (but not away), tidied up the table a tiny bit, said my nightly devotions and got ready for bed, it was already almost 3:00 a.m.!  Of course, I had to wake up at 6:30 a.m., the next morning! 

My alarm had already gone off when my cousin called me just after 6:30 a.m. to make sure I was up!  She confirmed we would leave at 7:30 a.m. and I was dressed (I chose to wear a long black skirt and a mostly black long sleeved blouse, because I didn't know if it would be appropriate to wear slacks to a church funeral service, but there were many ladies in slacks) and ready when she and her daughter came to pick me up, as they were giving me a ride to the funeral and back.  It took us almost an hour to get to the church where the funeral mass was being said and which started at 8:30 a.m.  For me, the saddest part was seeing my aunt: she is still recovering from hip surgery and in a convalescent home, but had been allowed to attend the funeral of her husband of 64 years.  After the service, she was transported back to the convalescent home and the rest of us proceeded to the cemetery.  There was a brief grave site service after which we all waited until the cemetery workers came to bury the casket.  While we waited, we sang uncle's favorite song, "You are my Sunshine".  Apparently, he even sang it the evening prior to his death, when his family visited him.  That's when I started to tear up.  It was very poignant.  I find this aspect of Christian/Catholic funerals to be very intriguing, as we don't sing songs at Buddhist funerals.

After the burial, we all went back to his oldest daughter's house to a luncheon reception.  Sri Lankan traditions dictate a stove should not be lit during a death in the family until after the funeral.  So, no one cooks at home during the period and people bring food to the bereaved family.  The lunch itself was catered by a friend of the family: rice and curries, including a pumpkin curry and a dried fish curry (made with fish that has been salted and dried).  According to our traditions, the only time these two particular curries are served together is during a funeral meal, but I don't know the reason behind it.  When my mother died and people volunteered to bring food to the funeral lunch, afterwards, the friend who said she'll bring the dried fish curry couldn't make it and she didn't think to call and let me know, so there was no dried fish curry and another friend made a big fuss about it, so much so that I worried that the meal wasn't a proper funeral meal, and asked the Buddhist monks about it; they were very kind and gently pointed out that a vegetarian household wouldn't serve a dried fish curry and the meal was fine without it.  At yesterday's funeral lunch, since it was catered, everyone else contributed appetizers and desserts (and one thoughtful person brought several boxes of pizza for the kids!). 

We were at the lunch until about 1:30 p.m.  I texted daughter at 1:35 p.m. to let her know we were just setting out to come home.  We got home around 2:30 p.m.  I called and spoke with daughter for a bit, then replied to blog comments, and, around 4:30 p.m., settled down for a nap (since I was functioning on about 3 hours sleep and I knew it would be a late night, again, with the bridal shower yet to come!)  I set my alarm for 5:30 p.m. and also asked daughter to call me.  When the alarm went off and daughter called, I turned off the alarm and asked daughter to call me in another half an hour and slept till 6:00 p.m.!   Even so, I think it was 6:15 p.m., before I finally got up, had a cup of tea, and got ready for the evening function!

I decided to wear a sari to the bridal shower - one that I already had in my collection and with a sari blouse that matched and, even more important, actually fitted me!  The sari is purple, although it appears blue in the pictures.  I took a couple of pictures of me in the sari:

Taking selfies requires concentration!

Smile for the camera, Bless!
 Meanwhile, I am being supervised:

He doesn't look impressed, does he?
I was dressed and ready by 7:00 p.m.  Cousin P and her daughter were giving me a ride and they said they'll pick me up at 7:15 p.m.  Cousin called at 7:25 p.m. to say they will be here at 7:30 p.m.  The party was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.; we got to our cousin V's house around 8:00 p.m. and we were the first Sri Lankans, there!  The bride-to-be's family were already there!  There were guests arriving at 9:30 p.m., in typical Sri Lankan style!  LOL!  It was more of a family get-together party than a typical bridal shower; the shower was just an excuse to have a party!

My outfit was greatly admired and many people told me I looked nice in a sari.  In fact, I think I look better in a sari than in other outfits; it's amazing what a lot of figure flaws can be covered by draping six yards of fabric around your person!  When I wear a sari, I feel confident that I am well dressed for the occasion!    I was rather amused that no one else wore a sari and, those who might have worn a sari told me that they wished they, too, had worn one, after seeing me in mine! 

I didn't take many pictures, but took a few; the party was set up in my cousin's back yard:

The appetizers table (we call them "short eats" in Sri Lanka):

"Short Eats"
There were asparagus and cheese sandwiches; "cutlets" which have a filling of either beef or fish, and are dipped in batter, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep fried (the beef cutlets have been flattened, the fish cutlets are round balls); "patties" (they look like small empanadas) which have a filling of either beef or fish, encased in pastry, and either fried or baked (they are traditionally fried, and these ones were fried); mini "rolls" which have a filling of beef or fish, rolled up in a pancake made of batter, breaded, and deep fried, and assorted chips.  The short eats with the beef fillings have been separated from the ones with fish fillings, since not everyone eats beef.

The dinner, itself, was a catered buffet, where "appa" (called "hoppers" in English) was being served:

Buffet Table
Appa/hoppers are a type of pancake, made with a fermented rice batter:

A Plain Appa/Hopper
It has a soft, doughy center surrounded by wafer thin, crisp sides.

I'm sorry, the quality of the pictures below are not the best - it was dark, the person making the appa is back-lit from the landscaping lights, and he had to work fast and my cell phone camera is not the best.  But, I wanted to capture some of it to give an idea of what it is.

First, the person making it puts a ladleful of the batter into a small appa pan that looks like a mini wok:

Adding the batter to the pan
Then, the batter is swirled around to coat the sides of the pan:

Swirling the batter
Then, the pan is placed on the stove and covered so it can "bake":

Cooking the appa
During this cooking process, some of the batter that was swirled around, collects at the bottom of the pan, creating the spongy middle and the wafer thin surrounding.  Each appa takes about 5 minutes to cook.

But, he has several burners going at the same time, so it's a production line
In addition to the plain hoppers, there are also "egg hoppers", where an egg is cracked into the middle where it is cooked until a soft set is achieved:

Egg Hoppers ("Bittara Appa")
In addition to the hoppers, there were also "indiappa" or "string hoppers", which are a type of noodles made from rice flour:

String Hoppers
The rice flour is mixed with water to make a dough, which is forced through a mold with tiny holes in it and the resulting threads or strings of dough are allowed to fall onto little round mats or trays that used to be woven of rattan, but are now often made of plastic.  The discs are turned so that the strands of dough swirls and makes a lacy mat.  They are then steamed and removed from the mats and served with curries.

For those who didn't want either hoppers or string hoppers, there was plain rice, as well.

I didn't take a picture of the curries, but there was a choice of chicken, fish cooked two different ways, mutton, as well as dhal, potato, and different sambols including coconut sambol, and two types of onion sambols (lunu miris for the hoppers and seeni sambol for the string hoppers). 

For dessert, there was a mocha cake (again, I didn't take a picture).

In addition, there were these marshmallow party favors:

Party Favors
They are made of giant marshmallows, which one of my cousins purchased and dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in sprinkles and colored sugar; each was mounted on a stick and packed in clear plastic bags and tied with ribbon and decorated with sprigs of fabric flowers. 

After all that feasting, we moved indoors and danced!  There is a type of dance that is popular among the Sri Lankans known as the "baila" (the word, itself, comes from Portuguese/Spanish for dance; the Portuguese first arrived in Sri Lanka in 1505).  The dancing was still going on when we left, well after 1:00 a.m.!  I think it was past 1:30 a.m., when I got home.  I video chatted with daughter, wrote a quick email to a friend, cleaned the litter box, and got ready for bed.  It was 3:45 a.m. when I last looked at the clock, but I knew I would be able to sleep in this morning, so I was not worried.

It was a day of contrasting emotions, yesterday, with a funeral in the morning and a party in the evening, but that is how life is, isn't it?  The uncle who passed away wouldn't have had it any other way and his oldest daughter was present at the bridal shower (she did the flowers for both events).  It was nice to end an otherwise sad day on an uplifting note, celebrating an anticipated wedding.  We bid farewell to one family member and welcomed another into the extended family.  It was, in a way, a reaffirmation of life and the fact that life goes on. 

On Saturday, I was grateful for:
- My cousin and daughter giving me rides to both the funeral and the bridal shower and back
- A day spent in the company of family and friends, there for one another during both sad occasions and happy ones
- Sharing old memories and making new ones
- Safe travels on crowded freeways
- An afternoon nap!

How was your Saturday?


  1. That certainly was a day of differing emotions! I enjoyed hearing of the different traditions surrounding the gatherings. Very interesting. You do look wonderful in your sari, the colours are lovely.

  2. I find traditions of other countries interesting so was fascinated to read about the Sri Lankan ones in this post. I especially liked your descriptions of all the different foods.

    I too loved seeing the photo of you wearing your sari. You don't look at all like I'd imaged you to look ... but not in a horrible way, I hasten to add. 😀

    1. Glad you enjoyed reading about it, Eileen. I could have said, "I attended the funeral" and I would have known what it entailed, but many others reading it might not.

      OK, now I am curious to know how you imagined I would look! LOL! I'm 62 and too short for my weight! Ha, ha.

    2. Snap! I'm also 62 and am way too short for my weight. I'd imagined you to have much shorter hair and a rounder face!

    3. Yes, my hair is growing back! I used to have long hair at one time. By the way, there is a picture of me, with no hair at all (in one of the blog posts from March 2016); it's the only one where I've shown my full face. :)

  3. The bridal shower card is beautiful. You are very creative.

    It's interesting to hear that even when thousand miles away, Sri Lankans still follow traditions such as funeral meals. And of course the famous Sri Lankan time. 😊

    1. Thank you, Nil. Yes, we keep our traditions going, don't we? At least, those of us who came from SL; I don't know if the younger generation, who are born here, will continue to observe them when it is their turn to do things.

  4. Your card is absolutely stunning. Great job. You were very wise to complete it before going off to bed, as it ALWAYS takes longer to finish than anticipated. You were able to relax and have a bit of a lie down after the funeral, instead of stressing over making a hand-made card.

    I really appreciated seeing all the photos you took of the shower decorations and food being offered. The tables were set up beautifully and it looked like there was more than plenty on offer. The giant marshmallow favours look scrumptious. What a wonderful idea.

    Love the sari. I'll bet there were quite a few women who wished they had worn theirs, whether they said it out loud or not. Your hair is getting very long, and you wear a beautiful smile. I can't believe you are old enough to retire. Thank you so much for describing in detail the different Sri Lankan customs (both funeral and wedding shower. It was an enjoyable read.

    1. Thank you, Susan. I was glad I had saved that bit of silver paper, as it came in handy! I need to make two wedding cards, next - need to start on them earlier than the night before!

      The tables were done beautifully, weren't they? One of my cousins (the aunt of the boy getting married) said she was ironing the table cloths at 1:30 a.m.!

      Yes, my hair is growing! As for being old enough to retire, I am 62. :)

  5. Yes, life goes on. It must have been exhausting day if for no other reason that the range of emotions you felt. Thanks for sharing some of your traditions. Very interesting.

    1. It was an unusual day, to say the least, wasn't it? I admired the cousin who attended the bridal shower after attending her father's funeral earlier in the day! I know I couldn't have done it, myself!

  6. The bridal shower card is lovely Bless. I couldn't imagine creating anything as pretty as that at any time, never mind at 1am!
    It must have been a day of mixed emotions for you, although as Sharon said, it is fascinating to learn of your different traditions. Your sari is beautiful. X

    1. Thank you, Jules. I had fun making the card.

      Yes, it was a rather unusual day, but as the great grandson of the uncle who passed away read from Ecclesiastes during the service there is "A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance".

  7. I always love hearing about the traditional celebrations you have/attend. And you are so right about life going on. I find so much comfort that joy can quickly follow sadness.

    1. Thank you, Anne. I never know just how much to write about my cultural traditions, but, so far, everyone has been very receptive to what I have posted. I could have just summed up the day in just one sentence: "I attended an uncle's funeral in the morning; in the evening, attended a bridal shower for a cousin's future daughter-in-law", but that would have left out all the details that made the occasions what they were, I feel.

  8. Thanks for sharing so many wonderful and interesting photographs and descriptions. It was indeed a day with "a time to mourn and a time to dance". Our life covers all events and all emotions.

    1. Thank you, Bushlady. I thought of you, during the service, when the choir sang, as I know you sing at services. I don't remember (or know) all the hymns they sang, but they sang "Shepherd me O Lord", which I had heard once before at another funeral, "Take my hand Precious Lord", which is one of my favorites and, "Amazing Grace".

  9. I am very sorry to hear about your uncle. He sounds like a lovely man. The bridal shower looked like it was a lot of fun and I loved your sari!

    1. Thank you, Debbie. It was a day when family gathered to be there for each other in both good times and sad. It's what family is all about, isn't it?


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