Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Reflections: A Wedding

This weekend I had the great joy to be part of the wedding celebration of my dear friend from college, Julie (who I mentioned in my Locusts and Honey profile as one of the people I most admire)

Julie is an awesome young woman with a huge heart for justice issues, and she fell in love with a great person - Ramesh, a doctor with an equal activist-minded soul, who has worked, for example, with Doctors without Borders. Ramesh is Indian and raised in a Hindu family, and so I got to experience my first interfaith wedding celebration - and what a celebration! In the Bible we read about wedding feasts that lasted for days or weeks. The traditional Hindu wedding is about 3 days of ceremonies. Julie and Ramesh celebrated a somewhat condensed version of the traditional, and incorporated a Christian ceremony as well, but the end result was still something closer to what I would call a feast than what I have usually experienced in today's Christian weddings. A feast, not because of the food (though there was certainly enough of that to qualify) but a feast because of the whole feeling - the gathering of friends and family, the home filled to overflowing with people celebrating this union, the music, the dancing, the food, the ceremony and ritual - it was a feast.

I loved being part of it. I even got to join in the henna or mehndi party with the other women and the bride, where we were decorated by a fantastic artist for the wedding. (Check out a picture of one of my henna-decorated hands here.)

The Hindu ceremony itself was great fun to watch, even if it wasn't always easy to follow what exactly was happening - the service is conducted by a priest in Sanskrit. Highlights: the bride and groom shower each other with rice as a symbol of abundance and blessings, and the congregation gets to shower the couple with rice as well, and also, the vows that the couple take, walking together around the fire - seven vows:

Together we take the First Step to respect and honor each other
Together we take the Second Step to commit to care for each other
Together we take the Third Step to commit to be patient with each other
Together we take the Fourth Step to be honest and faithful to each other
Together we take the Fifth Step to stay together in happiness and sorrow
Together we take the Sixth Step to travel this journey of life with love and harmony
Together we take the Seventh Step to cultivate a strong and happy family

A great weekend...
Post a Comment