In my lifetime, I have borne witness to over a hundred weddings, yet the one I had the privilege of attending last week in the heart of Chicago stirred my soul like no other wedding.
The wedding was a rare, unique combination of three distinct rituals hailing from three corners of our vast world. Christianity, Hinduism, and Zoroastrianism got together in a magnificent display and dance of unity.
A Zoroastrian mother, a Hindu father, married their daughter Dr Anita to Steven, an African American lawyer.
The Hindu wedding unfolded on the first evening, coinciding with the commencement of Navaratri, the day that Hindus hold dear as the union of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva.
The bride and groom took the seven holy oaths of matrimony called Saptapadi.
“Let us take the first step to provide for our household a nourishing and pure diet, avoiding those foods injurious to healthy living. Let us take the second step to develop physical, mental and spiritual powers. Let us take the third step to increase our wealth by righteous means and proper use. Let us take the fourth step to acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony by mutual love and trust. Let us take the fifth step so that we are blessed with strong, virtuous and heroic children. Let us take the sixth step for self-restraint and longevity. Finally, let us take the seventh step and be true companions and remain lifelong partners by this wedlock”.
The Zoroastrian wedding followed the next evening, and lastly, the Christian ceremony beneath the celestial dome of a planetarium.
“May the Creator, the omniscient Lord, grant you a progeny of sons and grandsons, plenty of means to provide yourselves, heart-ravishing friendship, bodily strength, long life and an existence of 150 years.
The Christian wedding was at the planetarium dome theatre where under the surreal lighting the groom and the bride took their oaths.
“In the name of God, I take you to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow”
After the vow, Steven’s voice rang out with humour as he asked, ‘Anita, will you marry me once more, for the third time?’ – evoking a resounding chorus of laughter from the crowd.
The ceremony transported me to another world.
A grand dinner followed by the cake cutting ceremony concluded the joyous event.
I realized that despite the diverse backgrounds and cultural narratives, our forebears possessed a profound clarity about the sacred bond between two souls.
They comprehended that in life’s intricate journey, each person is not only a companion but an equal partner. They acknowledged the potential for differing viewpoints, the essential role of open communication in surmounting hurdles, and the unwavering commitment to complement and uplift one another through every twist and turn so much so that even death itself could not part the spirits that had become one.
Murali and Mani, married for 46 years, suffered the unimaginable loss of their teenage son in a car crash 25 years ago. Just a year ago, Murali faced a life-threatening colon rupture, spending nearly a month tethered to life support. It is as if the cosmos conspired to bestow this septuagenarian couple with a fairy tale wedding for their daughter, a radiant beacon of hope amidst their life’s trials and tribulations.
God bless the family.