Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Indianness is intact

With diyas and fresh flowers; A wedding in between the grass and the trees. As Bapu twinkled in the sky The Indian Express Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Perhaps in keeping with Mahatma Gandhi’s stress on simplicity, his great grand-daughter Supriya Gandhi’s marriage recently in New Delhi was one of the most austere marriage ceremonies I have attended. The austerity radiated so much warmth. It started with the very simply designed invite and built up to the wedding ceremony — conducted on the un-used lawns of a friend’s home where creepers and fruit and herbal trees grew in abundance. There was no band, dholak, shehnai or music of any strain, no horses or elephants, nor dolis or carts, none of the tamashas. Modest diyas lit up the lawns and fresh flowers adorned the makeshift mandap somewhere between the grass and the trees.
Assembled were about thirty well-wisher friends (I purposely prefix ‘‘well wisher’’ for friends come in all hues) and close relatives who were treated to vegetarian snacks and fruit juice. The same was offered to the baraatis who had come all the way from the US together with groom Travis Zadeh who is of mixed American-Iranian parentage. As the evening settled, they made themselves comfortable on cane chairs that ringed the mandap. Sitting by it was a traditional priest and well known scholar Kapila Vatsyayan, who doubled as the priestess; for she went about explaining the meaning behind each of the vows to those assembled around the bride and groom — the commitment that’s marriage and the roles to be played by the two partners and the two families.
It was one of the most memorable marriage ceremonies I have ever attended. One felt one was witnessing a solemn affair — the coming together of two individuals, with all the seriousness that’s required in the making and sustaining of a relationship. Also, seeing those present, it was more than obvious that they were there not to fulfill some social compulsions but because they genuinely wanted to be there to bless the couple. The simplicity touched the very clothes the bridal couple and their parents and the relatives wore — none of the designer stuff, but simply designed Indian ware. The lack of jewellery was made up by a readily and freely available commodity. Flowers of all hues sent out their fragrance.
The bride’s parents, Rajmohan and Usha, proved that evening that a good marriage ceremony ought to be conducted in an intensely simple way. Perhaps, with that alone does its sheer intensity and seriousness come through. And yes, in keeping with the Gandhian practice, Rajmohan and his close relatives and sister Tara and brothers Ramu and Gopal were dressed in khadi — plain and simple khadi. Seeing them and seeing the simple ceremony, I looked up at the sky and quietly said to myself — Indianness is intact and there’s hope that more will follow this simply Indian way of forging long lasting bonds. God bless the young couple. May they live happily together, always.

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