Tag Archives: wedding

Tom and Jerry Incorporates Indian Culture But Does It Do It Well?

Recently Tom and Jerry: The Movie was released in theaters and HBO!

In this movie, Hollywood gets Bollywood glam! The beloved co-stars of Tom and Jerry attend an Indian wedding and wear Sabyasachi and Anushree Reddy couture.  

A UK-based fashion house, Aashni + Co assisted Warner Bros. crew in sourcing bespoke costumes at an Indian wedding extravaganza. Each outfit was beautifully designed, and had a light, airy feel to it – the color palette had hints of peonies, lavender, and rose bowers.

Aashni + Co Co-Founder, Aashni Anshul Doshi.

Aashni + Co Co-Founder, Aashni Anshul Doshi told India Currents that she borrows inspiration from what she sees around her – from the incredible to the little mundane things. She said, “Even a short but meaningful current affairs conversation gets me going. Believing in the greatness of any idea can be a real inspiration for me.” 

The surreal juxtaposition of Bollywood in a cartoon movie accompanied by unexpected pop-ups of elephants, peacocks, and tigers in the grand ballroom did not compete with the slippery antics of Tom and Jerry. The effect was reminiscent of Aladdin’s entry into Jasmine’s palace! 

Aashni comments, “Being part of Hollywood gave me an opportunity to up the ante. Having dressed up Indian brides, grooms, and families from across the globe, we went with our instincts about grand Indian weddings to curate every look.” And it worked!

I have not shopped at Aashni +Co but I love their glossy website that offers an exclusive shopping experience. They were approached by Tom and Jerry stylists in the summer of 2019.

“The bridal ensembles had to be elegant, rich, and traditional. We worked around this pitch and shortlisted suitable outfits to present for selections. It was great that where typically across the globe, an Indian bride is usually dressed in red, the choice to go with ivory with understated elegance was zeroed in on.”

Choosing something so unconventional and expensive, I wonder about the process and challenge of acclimatizing Hollywood stars and their audience to Indian attire and cultural norms. When India Currents’ asked Aashni + Co to comment on this, we did not receive a response. 

In old Bollywood films, the bride was always dressed in a classic red saree and heavy gold jewelry. In my day, bridal attire was sourced from popular saree stores that carried few versions of bridalwear. Simple and elegant, a look recreated in Mira Nair’s rendition of A Suitable Boy. My mother stitched outfits for us in taffeta, satin, and silk with handspun gold lace. She did not consult a design book. The ideas stemmed from her imagination. My wedding saree was a shimmering red-gold tissue trimmed in broad gold brocade.

In India, people always asked me, where I bought my clothes? My elegant mother was an understated designer! Now, when I pick up a chic garment from an Avante Garde boutique-like Aashni + Co. that reminds me of my mother’s, it always has a $$$$ price tag.

In the last ten years, there has been an explosion of bridal couture in India! Indian diaspora is hypnotized by the glitz and glamor – each outfit is more ornate and ostentatious. Tom and Jerry and other films like it can perpetuate global misconceptions about Indian wedding culture. 

My other issue was that while the human actors wore their glad rags to the hilt, they seemed a bit confused about their own spatial and dialogue relationships with the cartoon protagonist.

If the screenplay and direction were intended to draw parallels between the lives of Kayla (Chloe Grace Moretz) and the cat and mouse duo, it did not. The underhanded gesture at the outset employed by Kayla to nab a position at the prestigious establishment conjured up the gestalt of Jerry but then it frittered away. Ben( Colin Jost) and Preeta (Pallavi Sharda) as a tense interracial couple before their wedding gala did not capitalize on the conflict. My heart warmed up to Michael Pena because he has a great sense of timing but even his humor was stymied. My eyes scanned to glean memorable unexpected moments in the fight sequences between the sworn adversaries, but mayhem and destruction failed to impress! 

There was nothing to make me scream in sheer delight. It was nothing like the ”zombie-high” I felt by watching reruns of short cartoon films created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. This live-action/computer-animated slapstick comedy would not be my “go-to” movie when I want to share the family couch for some popcorn and laughter.


Monita Soni, MD has one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India, and a heart steeped in humanity. Monita has published many poems, essays, and two books, My Light Reflections and Flow Through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM.


 

Letters to the Editor: 3/11/2021

Dear India Currents,

I read the piece written by Dr. Soni of her critique on Netflix’s new video series on over the top Indian weddings “The Big Day“. I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on it. I found the series entertaining, interesting, and funny. Each couple had a unique love story and their weddings were customized for that and to reflect their own individual styles and tastes. Since these couples came from very wealthy families and backgrounds, they could afford such grand extravagant weddings and the planning team to do it.

What bothered me was that The Big Day showed Indian couples that came from families is not even the 1% in India or the Indian American community but the less than 1%! These were people in extremely wealthy and elite circles.  How many of us Indian Americans, even those who are in the upper-middle and upper class of doctors, engineers, CEOs of companies, can afford weddings on such a grand scale?

Let us take Nikhita and Mukund. Nikhita said in the trailer “I wanna make this wedding everything I ever dreamed of.”  Well, considering that she and her husband were around 24-25 at the time of their nuptials, can someone that young pay for a wedding that cost upwards of tens of millions of dollars? Her father Subrah Iyer is a Silicon Valley tech CEO worth several hundred million dollars ($750 million).  Of course, the majority of parents want to pay for their kid’s weddings but how many Indian American kids have parents who can afford to pay for a weeklong over-the-top wedding in India in the tens upon tens of millions of dollars? The Iyers are in less than 1%, and Nikhita and Mukund’s wedding story is a very far removed reality!

Again, these couples and their families are extremely wealthy and have every right to have these types of weddings. It is just that this is not the reality for most of us. I wish the wedding series was called ‘The Big Day for Indians in the 1%’.

Warm Regards,

Laavanya Pasupuleti


If you would like your opinion or perspective expressed at India Currents, do not hesitate to contact editor@indiacurrents.com with a submission or note. 

Indian Couples Plan Their Own Big Fat Indian Wedding

Indians all over the globe are binge-watching the new Netflix series, The Big Day. The series focuses on big fat Indian weddings in exotic locales and I could not get enough! The Valentine‘s day launch was on point to woo the romantic notions of thousands of couples who put their own wedding plans on hold because of the pandemic.

Traditionally, marriage entailed matching horoscopes, a pinch of haldi, kumkum, chandan, coconut, dates, seven steps in front of the fire, a mangal sutra, and good luck. Over time and much thanks to Bollywood, weddings are a $50 billion industry in India. Indians love big weddings. Even some Americans desire to be married in the Indian way because Indian weddings are colorful, extravagant, and over the top.

When I was getting married, weddings used to be a family affair and the festivities revolved around setting a budget. The bride’s trousseau (sarees, jewelry, home goods) was collected from the day she was born. Once the wedding date was set, the house buzzed with decisions about the invitation card, venue, light display, music, marching band, caterers, and gifts for the groom and his family. No wedding planner was hired. Friends and relatives chipped in to prepare for the wedding. The bride and groom were not involved in deciding anything once they said yes. Everything was decided for them. They spent their days floating on clouds and fantasizing about their lives together.

I got married in the Pink City of Jaipur. Rajasthan’s havelis and mahals added to the charm. Colorful attires, music, and delicious cuisine set the mood. I wore a red and gold tissue saree I bought from Kala Niketan. I did my own makeup. My mother’s Navaratana necklace adorned my neck for good luck. My dad blew his budget because the groom’s family invited about three hundred people last minute. But he dealt with it, without flinching an eye. 

The Big Day, produced by Conde Nast India, is about avant-garde millennial Indian couples and displays the megabucks put into the Indian wedding industry. This gives us an escape out of our surreal, locked-down Zoom reality and into an extravagant social engagement. Six lavish, pre-COVID Indian weddings in exotic locales, with “breaking barriers” bridal looks, decor, food, and flamboyance!

One of the couples from the Netflix show, The Big Day.

The weddings are different because, in a rather unconventional twist, the millennial couples are in charge. They seem to have choreographed the entire ceremony to meet their style and personal flair. The couples tell us their back story. Their meet-cute, their courtship, their choice in engagement rings, their proposals, their challenges, their families’ reaction, and most importantly, the wedding preparation.

Some broke tradition by snubbing certain subversive traditions which seem to denigrate women like kanya dan and mangal sutra. Others embraced tradition by effortlessly accepting to live with extended families. There was a lot of emphasis on cross-cultural unions including a poignant gay marriage.

Some dialogues and vignettes pull at heartstrings: The Hindu priest who married two men dressed in lungis to recreate a Chennai custom said: “Hinduism is a way of life”. That sentiment brought so much solace to the newlyweds that they danced together.

I was floored with the destination of a Kishangarh fort and loved the incorporation of Sarson (Mustard) flowers and sprigs of Bajra. The use of floating sanganer block printed fabrics was a very creative idea. Everything was locally sourced and repurposed. The couples planned their wedding with such a great eye for detail, working tirelessly with vendors and creatives. The Baby boomer parents were there to offer support, happily or grudgingly, as they watched them choreograph their own wedding. 

I hope these newlyweds live happily ever after. I am hooked and will definitely watch the next episodes! My only question is – did the savvy millennials foot the bill of The Big Day?! 


Monita Soni, MD has one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India, and a heart steeped in humanity. Monita has published many poems, essays, and two books, My Light Reflections and Flow Through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM.

Indian Matchmaking: It Sucks, It’s True

“They want a girl who is slim, tall, educated, and from a good family,” says matchmaker Sima Taparia, as she flips between pages of marriage biodatas. Beside Taparia, her husband laughs. “They want everything.” 

Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Smriti Mundhra, Netflix series Indian Matchmaking offers an unsanitized glance into the nitty-gritty of South Asian arranged marriages. The show follows the day-to-activities of Sima Taparia, who navigates the labyrinthian love lives of Indian and immigrant millennials. From horoscope hurdles to culture contrasts, Taparia’s job is to find a middle ground between parents and partners, spouses, and societal norms. Because of Taparia, the end-all of a successful marriage is compromised. 

Although praised by audiences for its comedic timing, Indian Matchmaking has been subject to widespread criticism for its portrayal of casteism, colorism, elitism, and sexism. And the critics aren’t wrong. If I had a dollar for every time Taparia or a client equated physical attractiveness with being “tall and fair”, I could probably afford Taparia’s fees. (There’s a reason why almost everyone on Indian Matchmaking is rich, and it’s not by accident.) 

The show reveals deep-seated prejudices that form the bedrock of the arranged matchmaking system. Parents often request Taparia to look for a ‘good family background’ — a euphemism for a specific caste, class, and ethnic background. Colorism is a regular facet of the show. Ankita, a surprisingly likable client, is immediately labeled as ugly by Taparia for her darker skin. She prefers the likes of Pradhyuman and Rushali Rai, who are praised for their lighter complexions. 

Women above the age of 30 (case in point: Aparna) are treated like slowly rotting vegetables, who must be carted off before they cross the expiry date. And once they agree to the marriage, these women’s preferences and opinions are quickly dismissed by Taparia. Indian Matchmaking’s vision of marital compromise often targets its women, who are expected to be flexible and beautiful and witty regardless of the groom. 

“The bride has to change and compromise for the family,” says Preeti, mother of 23-year old Akshay. “Not the boy. Those are the values we were raised with.” 

Aside from the casual misogyny, divorcees and single parents are wholly ignored in the matchmaking process, perhaps because they’re evidence that relationships — “heavenly” as they are — don’t always work. “If anybody comes to me with a child, I mostly don’t take that case, because it is a very tough job for me to match them,” says Taparia, while discussing single mother Rupam. 

It’s flippant. It’s shallow. It’s the kind of discrimination that bites you where it hurts, even when packaged as a joke. 

I can understand why so many Indian Americans my age despise Indian Matchmaking. As I watched the show for the first time, I found myself deeply uncomfortable. Although presented as ‘just another reality show’, the series provided a painful lens on the worst of South Asian culture — traits that have endured generations of development and diaspora. 

The criticism is real, but it’s misdirected. With Mundhra’s keen sense of direction and focus, it’s obvious why the show is popular with a global audience. To offer an accurate glimpse into South Asian society, Mundhra has a duty to present its flaws — regardless of how ugly and misguided they may be. 

“Yes, it’s misogynistic, it’s objectifying people.. but this is what India is,” says stand-up comedian Atul Khatri. In his review of the show, Khatri concedes, “You know what India is..you cannot ignore it, you cannot brush it under the carpet.”

Taparia can do her best to sugarcoat the flaws of her clients — that’s her job as a matchmaker. But what Indian Matchmaking refuses to do is sugarcoat Taparia and the system that has made her what she is. 

A better glimpse into arranged marriages is A Suitable Girl, which came out in 2018, and might be a better watch!

Kanchan Naik is a rising senior at the Quarry Lane School in Dublin, California. Aside from being the Youth Editor at India Currents, she is also the Director of Media Outreach for youth nonprofit Break the Outbreak, the editor-in-chief of her school newspaper The Roar and the 2019-2020 Teen Poet Laureate for the City of Pleasanton. This year, Kanchan was selected as a semifinalist for the National Student Poets Program. 

Benefits of a Tiny Wedding

Coronavirus still rages. Businesses shuttered. Restaurants closed. Flights canceled. And weddings postponed.

In such times, have we any right to bemoan the cancellation of weddings? After all, what does a wedding matter against the backdrop of a global pandemic?

Except, in some essential way, it does. At a time when we’re all so isolated, it’s more important than ever to honor the ways we come together. And what is more important, in the face of death, devastation, and fear, than the celebration of love and commitment?  

In the past few months, friends and acquaintances have had to cancel, postpone, or completely rethink plans for their big Indian weddings. Relatives can no longer fly in from distant places. Banquets and destination weddings are completely out of the question.

So how does a couple in love cope? Of course, one option is to postpone until large gatherings are allowed again. We don’t know when that date will come, though, and it could be a year or more away. You could put down a large deposit and hope for the best, but that’s a thorny path. 

How about another strategy? Have a flexible, tiny, socially distanced wedding that minimizes contact with those beyond your immediate family. 

At this moment, your options for a socially distanced tiny wedding may be limited. Your county clerk office may not be issuing marriage licenses. Your family may live far away. But this type of small gathering will be allowed far sooner than any large-scale event, requiring far less planning and allowing far more flexibility.

And here’s the thing – I’ve done it both ways. I’ve had a 300-person destination wedding in India with three extravagant events, and people flying in from around the world.

I’ve also had a super tiny wedding that would abide by many of the rules of social distancing. There were six guests in total: all immediate family members, including one newly-ordained sister. Everyone wore something they already owned, did their own makeup, and styled their own hair. I wore my mom’s old wedding sari. Our three-minute ceremony took place outdoors and was captured by an iPhone on a tripod. We exchanged garlands by the water and wrote our own vows. A photographer took a few portraits from a distance.

The first wedding cost tens of thousands of dollars, culminating in months of stressful planning and aggravated family tension. Two years later, the marriage was over.

The second wedding cost under $500 (the cost of a license and 30 minutes of a photographer’s time) and was planned in under a week. It was the most romantic day of my life. Two years later, that marriage is a daily source of comfort and joy. 

A socially distanced tiny wedding means no hair stylist, no makeup artist, no florist, no wedding planner, no caterer, no dress fittings, no dance floors, and no banquets. It means minimizing the number of people you come in contact with, outside the few people most dear to you. But this style of wedding offers an unparalleled opportunity to fully be yourself on your wedding day. You will be far less concerned about pleasing all the distant aunties on your guest list. You will have full control over the way you look, and you’ll get married looking like yourself.

At the time of my tiny wedding, my fiancé and I worried that friends and relatives would feel excluded and hurt. We came to realize that everyone who loved us, understood. I can assure you that no friends were lost as a result of our tiny wedding. 

We had friends come to us after our wedding and say, “I wish I could do what you did, but my Indian mom just wouldn’t understand.” Even in the best of times, I assure you – moms inevitably come around to these types of decisions. And quite frankly, if you really need a reason, what better excuse than a global catastrophe?

So, if you’re excited to be married but feeling doubts about big wedding plans, consider the socially distanced tiny wedding when the time is right. You will spend less money, less time, and less emotional energy. And honestly, what better way is there to spite a pandemic, than to celebrate love?

Bhavya Mohan is a marketing professor and Bay Area native.

Adeeti Ullal and Johannes Reiter dancing at their wedding

BollyWedd Is The Mantra!

“Hot, Hot, Hot! That was one of the songs,” remembers Southern Californian Jackie Kendall of the music at her daughter Sara and Abhishek Belani’s wedding at the Design Center, San Francisco in 2015. Those were most likely the only words she recognized from the musical extravaganza that engulfed her during the many ceremonies. But she says, “The sangeet, mehendi—the entire wedding was fantastic—each group of the extended family performed their own song-dance. My husband played his guitar (interestingly, it was a Turkish tune). I wish we could do it all over again!”

Adeeti Ullal and Johannes Reiter dancing at their wedding
Adeeti Ullal and Johannes Reiter dancing at their wedding

The sangeet had a playlist chosen by the mother of the bridegroom, Vinita Belani from the Bay Area with traditional Punjabi and Sindhi communal singing accompanied by a dholki at the mehndi/uptan ceremony. Of course, Belani remembers every detail. Because they had lived in several countries, they had guests from all over the world and she factored this into the way she chose songs.

“I made a playlist of Abhishek’s favorite Bollywood numbers from each year of his life, songs that he danced to as a kid and teenager. Prominent was the song Amma dekh, Tera munda bigda jaye.” Belani also had Shakira’s Waka Waka song played while she called out names of the countries represented. “People who lived in each of the countries had to get on the dance floor. By the end of the song, we had successfully gotten everyone onto the dance floor and then we alternated American and Indian dance music. Jai Ho was a huge hit! The DJ was responsible for all-on-the-floor dancing after that.”

Indeed, a versatile DJ seems the way to go at inter-racial marriages. Adeeti Ullal, who works in Silicon Valley and her Austrian husband Johannes Reiter got married at the California Academy of Sciences to a playlist largely driven, intuitively, by the DJ duo from Klasikhz. Ullal remembers, “The DJ was awesome! Even without me specifying a lot of songs, he was able to gauge the audience and get a sense of what I liked and what kept people on the dance floor. His mixes of music were flawless for our dances. His brother played at the show which was another element that made the whole experience lively!”

Prema Sriram, a Bay Area resident and a South Indian says, “My Bollywood exposure makes me feel like North Indians have more fun dancing and singing. Hence, I too wanted to bring out the music and dance of South India and it worked beautifully. We had live music for folk dancing and also a short veena recital. The practices for live singing and dancing was enjoyable because everyone was eager to learn!”

Vandana Kumar celebrated her son Tushar’s wedding last year and says, “For the haldi, I tried to retain an authentic Bihari feel; friends sang traditional songs. I also hired a live band (SurPal) that was familiar with Bhojpuri and Magahi folk songs. This was mixed in with golden oldies from Hindi films. I wanted to create a different feel for this event because I knew that these songs would not be featured in the rest of the wedding.”

The bride and the groom—Niki and Tushar organized the other events and they chose Bollywood music that they were familiar with. “The DJ they hired, Parag Shah of Special Events was fabulous,” she continues, “In the way he chose music, there was a different mood that was created—sangeet (fun), baraat (live dhol, teaching and leading basic dance moves to guests), wedding ceremony (only Indian classical), cocktails and reception (western and Indian mix) all had different music.”

A touch of live music, both in North (popular choice being the dhol)—as well as in South-Indian style of weddings is common. New York-based Dr. Sumanth Swaminathan plays the saxophone in the Carnatic style and a review on his website says, “I was so impressed by his soulful music that I requested him to play at my daughter’s wedding. Gifted with a fertile imagination, he wove his music skillfully and seamlessly into the wedding ceremony, giving the process continuity that I have rarely seen in the United States.”

In general though, Bollywood or Bollywood-esque celebratory music seems to do the trick to bring together clans, especially inter-racial communities. Speaking of fusion, Indians seem to have adopted the “bridal entry” phenomenon from our Christian neighbors. Here are some culled-together bests from Bollywood for the grand reveal of the bride in all her finery as she walks to the mandap. 
Laal Ishq from RamLeela
Teri Ore from Singh is King
Mast Magan from 2 States
O Re Piya from Aaja Nachle
Raabta from Agent Vinod

For Tamil brides:
Ullam Paadum from 2 States

For Punjabi brides:
Din shagna de Chadeyaa from Phillauri

For Telugu brides
technofizi.net/top-50-best-telugu-mar
riage-pelli-songs-list/
For bridegrooms looking to completely sweep their bride off the floor, this video is a must-watch. Watch Frank sweep Simran with a surprise rendering of Tum Hi Ho as he strikes the piano. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GojJnrqpeE) Unbeievably sentimental—sometimes, the perfect tune can say more than the best prose can! n

Priya Das is an enthusiastic follower of world music, and avidly tracks inbtersecting points between folk, classical, jazz and other genres.

Demystifying a Hindu Wedding

Demystifying a Hindu Wedding

Five years ago I was approached by Nisha, a second generation Indian-American, who was about to wed Josh who was Jewish. She was concerned that the traditional Hindu wedding ceremony would not be understood by the guests and she wanted the rituals to be treated with the respect they deserved. She asked me if it was possible to include the important steps in the ceremony, using Sanskrit verses with English explanations so that the guests could follow. And would I be able to conduct the ceremony in 45 minutes? A daunting task, indeed!

Hindu Wedding of Zach Jones and Veena Goel officiated by Vijay Rajvaidya
Hindu Wedding of Zach Jones and Veena Goel officiated by Vijay Rajvaidya

The need to make religious practices, mythology and rituals accessible to all has always been a challenge. In the sixteenth century when Tulsidas wanted to tell the story of Lord Ram in Awadhi, a local dialect of Hindi, it was opposed by the purists. But Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas made the story of Lord Ram accessible to the common man, a text that is sung and celebrated by many even to this day.

Demystifying Hindu wedding religious practices is a requirement now. This time the objective is different and larger. We live outside of the country of our heritage. Our lifestyle, faith and beliefs have been the subject of curiosity and admiration, but also ridicule and condemnation. The latter happens primarily because our rituals seem like black boxes—people don’t understand their relevance or significance.

Indian priests, as opposed to their western counterparts are unable to communicate effectively. This leaves the current generation of Hindus very frustrated. As I described in the beginning, the requirement of the times is to manage the relevance of our beliefs and practices. Our current lifestyles demand this change in thinking.

Second generation Indian-Americans have been brought up balancing two cultures—one at home and one outside. Therefore this generation grew up being aware of their roots and culture but they also acquired the “take charge attitude” that my generation lacked when we were young. When couples take their vows today, they don’t want it to be handed down to them. They want the words to be meaningful and personalized to their feelings and thoughts. It’s important to accommodate these modifications to the traditional rituals.

Most Hindu priests/officiants conducting weddings emphasize the religious aspects of our rituals. Often, they describe the wedding steps evoking the wedding of Lord Ram to Sita or translate the Sanskrit verses in English. As a Hindu wedding is a religious sacrament, one cannot fault this approach. However, this approach requires that the participants in the wedding be not only familiar with the religion but also have devotional inclination towards it to truly appreciate it.

There is another aspect of our traditional rituals which isn’t generally emphasized. I discovered that the ancient verses in our scriptures for Panigrahan and Kanyadan exactly track the civil marriage process today! In these verses, the couple identify themselves, establish the date, day and time of the event, describe the location where the wedding is taking place and take their vows to become partners in life. It’s amazing how an ancient religion such as ours established and followed a process which laid high emphasis on such details.

The verse (in the picture) here accurately establishes the place and time of the wedding. If this were happening on April 15, 2017, it would read:
Shri Ganeshaya namah. On the continent of America, in the nation of the United States of America, in the province of California, in the city of Napa Valley, in the vikram samvat of 2074, in the year named Sadharana, in the Uttarayana, in the month of Vaishakh, in the waning lunar fortnight, on Chaturthi auspicious tithi, today Saturday, on the day constellation named Jyeshtha, when the moon is situated in Scorpio (vrishchik) and the Sun is situated in Aries (Mesh), Dev-gurus are situated in Virgo (Kanya), during the 2017th year of Common Era, on the 15th day of the month of April.

There are a few such gems which should be emphasized because in these modern times, we will feel awe thinking about the foresight of our ancestors. For example, there are verses that describe the bride’s mother advising the groom not to transgress his bounds in life, and to ascertain the bride’s consent for the wedding.

Most of us practice religion within a cultural context, and the Hindu ceremony is also strongly influenced by regional cultures and family traditions. Therefore, it’s advisable to differentiate between the steps which are included in the ceremony because it is a family tradition.

The verse (visible below) establishes the identity of both the parties, identifying the family lineage all the way to the great grandfather’s name. This is done using poetic flowery language with alliteration. The part of this verse related to identification is repeated three times to make sure that the parties are correctly identified. I use the above verse to make sure that the bride’s consent is recorded as well. It is followed by the groom stating his resolve to marry the bride of his choice.

I prepared to conduct Nisha’s wedding keeping all these things in mind. The impact created by giving importance to these modifications was evident from the reactions of the wedding guests.

There were young couples who came up to me, overjoyed, because they finally understood the significance of the rituals they had gone through but had never understood till then. The elders appreciated my accurate rendition of Yajurveda verses followed by a clear explanation in English. Even guests who had come from India said that they wished that marriage ceremonies in India were shorter and more meaningful. 

The first Hindu wedding I performed was five years ago. Since then I have conducted several more. I have selected the couples I marry with care, mostly selecting couples who are committed to projecting the value of the ceremony to people outside of Indian culture and the Hindu faith.

By demystifying our rituals, we make them meaningful and relatable even in our current times.

Vijay Rajvaidya is the Managing Director of India Currents.