Kentville, Nova Scotia
Coming home to Canada has been adventurous in ways I never thought would happen: polar bears, beluga whales, jazz festivals. I certainly did not think I would learn Hindu wedding traditions in Canada.
But my sister’s friend was getting married and it is customary to invite the entire family so I jumped at the opportunity to be my mother’s date – even though I’m not a fan of weddings.
I have never wanted to get married. I have never pictured myself in a white wedding dress.
It’s not my dream.
It’s not that I want to become a lonely old maid traveler. I do want a relationship but the thought of love, honour and obey make me flinch and the sentiment of getting married gives me anxiety.
But Hindu weddings seem to be less intimidating.
From the start I was impressed, instead of an unflattering white dress, the bride wore a gorgeous ruby dress adorned with gold. The father did not walk her daughter down the aisle but she was accompanied by her closest friends.
The wedding was held in the backyard of the bride’s family. Some sat in chairs and some on rugs on the ground, which is far more practical if you have dragged offspring there.
Not surprisingly, this was the first non-Christian wedding for the majority of the people attending – including the groom’s family. Instead of performing a ceremony most would not understand or appreciate, the university professor officiating spent time explaining the significance of each element.
It was nearly 2 hours but there was a lot of joking and laughing, making for a really wonderful afternoon.
After the groom placed a necklace on the bride and exchanged rings to symbolize “winning” each other. They exchange vows.
The vows were the most practical I have ever heard.
He asks for her commitment, to value his family and to be his friend always. She asks that he stand by her and consult her in all matters of finance, investment, religion, charity, and buying/selling of items. She also asks that he be her friend and protect her.
Making an agreement not to keep secrets about money? That is something I can understand.
Most importantly she asks that he does not use harsh words or ridicule her in front of others – I have met some married couples that should have taken this vow.
One of the more interesting aspects was the 4 posts of the gazebo were manned by each of the ‘brothers’ of the family to symbolize they still support the bride even after her marriage.
The bride then follows the groom four times around a fire in the center and then he follows her three times – humorously told that in the beginning the groom thinks he leads the marriage but soon realizes he needs to follow whatever his wife says and does.
The upper cloth of their clothing is tied so they stay in step with each other around the fire and in life. If one walks too quickly the other needs to speed up and they need to slow down.
Throughout the ceremony there were elements addressing loyalty to family, remaining friends and to working together. It started to make marriage seem less like a soul-sucking prison sentence.
In the end as the guests threw flower petals on the newlyweds it felt like a celebration of a life partnership instead of the crushing end of youth and isn’t that what it should be?
Maybe I won’t discount getting married after all.