Life & Style

Married under a tree: a Bengaluru couple’s dream wedding

Namrata and Varun on their wedding day  


Illustrator and architect Namrata Toraskar says “everything came together under a tree,” describing her rather unusual wedding to architect Varun Thautam. When the couple’s search for a temple, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, to tie the knot did not yield the desired results, Namrata stumbled upon the honge tree (Indian beech) behind Varun’s house in Yelahanka.

The shady Indian Beech
  • Known as Honge mara (pongamia pinnata) in Kannada, the Indian Beech tree is native to India. “It has a shady canopy and wind resistant trunk. Though it shows revealing and conspicuous signs of insect infestations, it shows resilience and springs forth fresh flush of leaves, overcoming the pest attacks,” says Pauline Deborah, associate professor, Department of Plant Biology, Women’s Christian College (Chennai).
  • Oil pressed from its seed has been used as a biofuel, an eco-friendly fuel alternative in locomotives. “It is sturdy and can withstand storms and squalls...perhaps can be seen as a symbol of strong marriage in the context,” she says. The evergreen, indigenous tree is dependable for its shade, for this reason it is recommended to be planted on avenues and parks.

“The tree became the centre around which everything took place. The scale of the wedding was decided by its foliage or shade — around 40 people could be accommodated around it,” she says.

An anthill under the tree, a beehive in it and singing birds added to the mood of the ceremony held on November 19. The wedding and everything related was in tandem with the couple’s desire to keep the ceremony small and meaningful, while adhering to the COVID-19 restrictions.

“It [tree] has been there for more than 10 years... our terrace overlooks it. I never went there much, but when we stood under it, after the idea struck us, it felt right,” Varun says. He built the mandap in two days with help from Namrata and her father. A finalist (in two categories) at the World Architecture Festival (2019), Varun, in his architecture practice, creates sustainable construction works. Although a professional architect, he prefers to call himself a ‘mason’ or ‘mud builder’.

Varun getting the mandap ready, with Namrata and her father

Varun getting the mandap ready, with Namrata and her father  

When he started work on the mandap he was struck by the “sheer amount of activity” under the tree — prancing squirrels, sleeping dogs, a buzzing beehive and ants. Ants were a concern, “I was bitten when I was working on the ground, I wondered if we would have to get rid of them. But we decided against it and on the wedding day we had no problems,” he adds. The mandap was slightly raised from ground level.

A meaningful wedding

As he was working on the space, the otherwise overlooked tree transformed into a ‘place’, as more people took refuge under its shade. “We are blessed to have been able to transform it into a place of meaning, an object of memory. It is very special to me, this symbolises who we are, the things we do and what we want to do,” Varun says.

The tree before the wedding

The tree before the wedding  

‘Building’ material was “simple materials available in surplus,” he says. The seating was arranged with eight benches around the tree. Food was served on foldable tables. “We built what we were capable of in the time and with resources available,” Varun adds. Plan B, in case of rain, was inside his house.

Namrata calls the tree ‘an accidental discovery’. She spotted it when Varun’s mother was showing her some plants. “Usually honge trees have drooping branches, because of which you can’t stand under one. This one didn’t have those. It got me thinking ‘why not have it here?’” she says. The idea resonated with Varun, “It was something very natural that fit into the life we believe in, not diluted by the fast-paced life we are forced to live.”

Although the decision was quick, planning and conception took a week’s time with inputs from the photographer. “I did illustrations, sketching and envisioned what it would be like. The photographer was involved so that we could reduce artificial lights for photos,” she says. Namrata is an architect and independent researcher.

Their families came around after some convincing. “It was very beautiful how our families have accepted our strange choices,” Varun says, adding “There was no better place to take our vows!”

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 7:08:41 PM |

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