Springingtiger's Blog

Hearts And Garlands
September 15, 2013, 22:33
Filed under: Parenting, success | Tags: , , , ,


Today I was at Neelam’s cousin’s wedding. I have been to quite a few Hindu weddings over the years and I enjoy watching them evolve as the Indian and host cultures, increasingly, blend.  I don’t remember having been to an Indian wedding before with bridesmaids, it was rather fun to see them in their matching saris and the groomsmen in matching sherwanis. I was interested to see that the majority of westerners had opted to mark the occasion by wearing saris and sherwanis, the Indian women, of course, wore saris, but many of the men favoured lounge suits with collar and tie.

This was not the first wedding I have attended where the Sanskrit prayers have been accompanied by an English commentary, however it Is the first time I remember the parts of the ceremony being described in a printed program. What a good idea an explanation and souvenir in one! When Neelam and I were married I had very little idea of what was happening and no understanding of Sanskrit. I like that the modern weddings are more inclusive and make the culture accessible, I had to do a lot of research to fully understand my wedding, not that it interfered in any way with my enjoyment of it.

When we got married the Hindu community was considerably smaller than now, we did not even have a priest back then. Nowadays weddings have become more sophisticated, there are many priests available in Britain, but the ceremony is in its essentials the same. Today couples tend to favour smart wedding venues, today’s was at Mar Hall, a beautiful place with beautiful views across the lower Clyde. We got married in the purana mandir in the west end of Glasgow, however it was a magical event for us as today’s must have been for Roshini and Avnish. When the young couple garlanded each other today my mind flew back over thirty years to the moment when, wrapped in her red wedding sari, Neelam entered the mandir and we garlanded each other. I think that one of the reasons we remain together is that, although we had to remove the garlands from our necks, we have never taken them from our hearts, just as I chose her then, I choose her still. 

Until I became the father of a daughter, I never really understood how great a gift it is to give away one’s daughter to her husband. I was lucky that as well as their daughter, the Bakshi’s gave me a lifetime of friendship and affection. I rarely pass a day without remembering my father in law, he gave me so much more than just his daughter.

Today as Roshini’s cousins gave her puffed rice. I remembered how Neelam’s cousins took it in turns to leave their shop and attend bits of our wedding. It was Bilu who placed the stone upon which she stepped, it must have worked, she is as firm as a rock still.

All couples take seven steps at the start of their lives together, each step accompanied by a promise. The one promise I love most is to “be best friends and eternal partners”, Neelam is very much my best friend. I think sometimes couples forget to be friends. At the start, passion, sex and love may well carry you through the days, but over time what it’s required is commitment. When times are tough what keeps you together is sharing each other’s burdens and sorrows, when times are good you can then rejoice together. No matter how black things may look, and often they have looked black, I have always come through because Neelam has been beside me. She has no illusions about me, I may have some about her, but that is as it should be, women should retain some mystery. I love that, even after all these years, I am still excited to see her and I moss her when we are apart.

When we were married we were quite poor in cash terms, but we have always been rich in so many other ways. We exchanged rings when we married, but I never have her a marriage necklace. Some years ago I was visited by my students who presented me with a beautiful gold coin of Laxmi and a gold necklace, I returned the coin to them as gurprasad, but the necklace I took for Neelam, a completion of unfinished business. I think it is important to remember that in a successful marriage the wedding never really ends, every day one’s vows are reaffirmed by one’s actions. There will be times when things go wrong, but holding to commitment, to the promises you have made each other, can carry you through. It is important not to give up on each other too easily, but to honour yourself as someone whose word is true. Sometimes it may be necessary to end a marriage but it should never be the easy choice.

There have been many things in life that have given me cause for regret, but not my wedding. I look back on that day with joy and thanks. Of everything I have done in my life, of every choice I have made, marrying Neelam is the best. For me the most enjoyable part of attending any wedding is the stimulus it gives me to reflect on my own marriage; I have a good life!



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