Sunday, December 04, 2011


Despite the unfortunate meaning en Espanol, malas are the lei-like garlands used in India for all kinds of important occasions to celebrate winners and overall happiness. My mom's people have a tradition of using them at weddings--family members from each side welcome their new family with a beautiful garland of flowers.

Jon and I decided we didn't want to do a unity candle or sand or spices or any of that stuff, but our mothers brought the malas up at the end of the ceremony for us to put on each other before the kiss, essentially welcoming each other to our respective families. Officially.

I had planned on making them myself (shocker) on the day before the wedding by going to the florist, grabbing whatever was available and stringing it up. So the day before at the mehndi, when my godmother's 89-year-old mother said she had something for us, I was beyond touched. She and a bunch of her grandchildren had made these malas for us by hand. It's something they do in their tradition: Take strips of cotton and carefully remove some of the woven threads, making a very very soft fringe. It must have taken a very long time. I was teary.

 These are so much better than what I would have slapped together. And they'll last a long time, too.

Jon loves orchids. We definitely would have used our own orchids (we have a couple very impressive plants) if we could, but of course this is the year they're both dormant.


Syar said...

"Malas" is actually the Malay word for lazy - which does not take away from this beautiful tradition, and your godmother's thoughtful gift, no doy - but when I saw the post title, knowing I hadn't posted in a few days I thought, "Oh man, me too!" Post NaBloPoMo blues!

Guyana-Gyal said...

The mala tradition came here with our ancestors and still exists, but only the flower one. I'd love to learn how to do this shredded cloth one. I must google it.

Eclectic Bride-Wife-Mom said...

It isnt shredded. It is two inch strips of cotton that are hand frayed. I think we use at least fifty per garland. One person holds one end while the other finds the edge and starts pulling. It takes FOREVER. Always well worth the effort, however.

Lia said...

They are gorgeous. What a beautiful tradition! And getting it as a gift somehow seems like it's even more meaningful.