Intercultural Marriages…some challenges faced.

Hindu Wedding

Hindu Wedding

Note: I am attempting to talk Bear into wearing that nifty wedding hat thingee that has a cool fan like thing of cloth at the top but he is steadfastly refusing.  He’s a pooterhead.  That’s ok though, I have found a way around it.  I’ll just have my Dad gift it to him.  🙂 Muahahaha.

While we haven’t officially announced the official engagement yet, (or wedding for that matter) I am a consummate researcher and prefer to study something to death rather than not know anything.

It was because of my previous studies, even before Bear and I became serious, that when we did become serious I was more prepared to make hard line decisions.  Mainly because I had already researched them, thought them out and made decisions on them….you know just in case.

Eh-hem not like I thought he was eventually going to cave in and propose or anything.

Moving along….  🙂

So, where was I?  Oh yes…when Bear and I became serious I had a decision to make about our future on more levels than just one.

Life Decisions

Bear’s culture, history and religion are very important to him.  He’s very open minded and accepting, however there are some things that he wants out of life and I can’t blame him because I have similar wants and needs.

Like, I wanted to continue to celebrate my American/Christian traditions.  Trees with lights and decorations at Christmas.  Painted eggs and gum hanging at Easter (Thanks to Leese for pointing to me that this sounds scary and nobody ‘get’s it’.  My grandfather started this tradition when I was a kid…he would do all the normal stuff, hide eggs and baskets…but he would also tie packets of juicy fruit to the tree outside and one always had money as a wrapper so we called it gum hanging.).  Observance of Thanksgiving…even though I am a veg eater now and can’t stand that nasty evil vile disgusting totally gags me with a spoon Tofurkey.

It was important that future children learned both my heritage and his.  I wanted them to have the same opportunity I had, to make a choice in my religious life.  To have the opportunities to learn anything I wanted (as long as it wasn’t a cult…that included anything that Tom Cruise belonged to—darn it).

Fortunately, Bear and I found that we had the same ideas and beliefs with regards to all the essentials, all of the things that were important and ‘deal breaker’ rules in our lives.

That’s not to say that we haven’t run across our own little snags along the way.  Two stand out in my mind the most.  My first name and the Manglasutra(s).

My First Name

Recently, a post on Gorigirl.com Forums ( Your Indian Name? ), someone brought up the topic of the Indian MIL and FIL wanting the new bride to take on a new first name.  Yep, you read that right…apparently in some families (especially in Maharashta) the bride is given a new first name by her husband and/or In-Laws.  I brought this topic up with Bear and he said that his brother’s wife did do this…however his mother did not so it is not necessarily a family tradition.  But he liked the idea very much.  I remember I had asked him to tell me what name he would give me, but it was only so that I could know….you know?  It was such a new concept, that thinking about that topic was odd enough, thinking about how some girls go by a different name entirely after their marriage?  HUH?

So Bear told me the name he would like to give me.  Anjali.

Beautiful name isn’t it?  Yes it is.  And it fits me as well.  But my name is the name my Daddy chose for me and I’m a tad bit attached to it.  So, I told Bear that while I love the name he would give me, I didn’t think I could do that.  And I really did think about it for some time, Played with it.  Toyed around with the idea.  But no matter what I did I would always be “Aurora” to my friends and family…why confuse them more than their poor brains can handle?  Hehehe Seriously, Also, I already had enough to adjust to, I didn’t think I could handle remembering to listen for “Anjali” being called over “Aurora”.

This hurt Bear a little bit.  I hadn’t worded my request for the information properly, and (communication is the key people) he misunderstood and thought I wanted the name because I planned on changing my name!  So he was hurt and a little sad to learn that I didn’t have any plans to do that at all.  This created tension for me, because I knew I had hurt him and I knew I couldn’t give him what he would like to have.  AND that I had led him to believe for a short while that he would get it.  Without knowing I was doing it…but still…that’s what happened.

Now everything is ok.  Like Bear says “What’s in a name?  Anyway, you were Aurora when I fell in love with you…so why would I want to name my love something else?”

Manglasutra

Bear and I had many conversations about what exactly we planned on getting for the wedding.  We had already discussed that it would be cheaper for him to get my wedding Sari there in India than it would be to buy it here (US).  This included his Sherwani, shoes and a few other items.  The items we would probably buy here would be the gold wedding bands and the Manglasutra.  Bear wanted to be able to purchase both for me, the daily wear Manglasutra and the big huge bawdy gold one that is for the wedding and special occasions only.

Right now the cost of Gold per ounce in the US is $962.  (Current Gold Prices)

However, Bear wanted me to double check for the Manglasutra here.  I assumed it was for price and style.  And in some ways I was right.  I thought he was looking to conserve money…remember here in the US, while guys will buy their girls jewelry they pride themselves on getting a good deal even if that means letting go of some quality (not all but some).  So I was not entirely used to just how important and special the Manglasutra was.  I started thinking he was attempting to save us some money, seeing as how things are a little tight right now.  So there was some discussion about not even getting the wedding version now.  Also, I sent him pictures of the one’s that I found here and liked.  I liked them because of the style of the pendants; however he was looking at the entire Manglasutra (including the beads and the amount of gold on the strand).  He expressed some concern on the amount of gold and I assumed that he meant the pendant because that’s the only thing I was really looking at when I looked at the Manglasutra…I figured a strand of black and gold beads is just like any other.  This lead to hurt feels on my side because I had picked out excessively small pendants.  However, the strands had more gold than black beads (which, in my defense I wasn’t looking at).  So when Bear brought up the fact that there was too much gold, I thought he meant the pendant and began the downward depressive cycle of “this sucks” and then started the girl martyrdom of “we’ll just get a plain black bead strand with no pendant…those are cheaper”.

Note: SEE???  See how important communication is here people?

He finally understood what the problem was and was able to correct me.  His fear was that I would have to wear that gold laden Manglasutra in India and he knew his country.  I would be a white woman….already enough to draw attention to every beggar and pick-pocket within 5 miles…but if I also had a daily Manglasutra with too much gold on the strand?  On the highly visible strand?  Well…that would be like a putting a bowl of candies in front of a five year old and telling him “No”.

Essentially…Uh huh.  Whatever.  MINE MINE MINE.

Back to the story line, I had gotten emotional and all assumey and it caused little problems between us.  Which we got resolved mainly because Bear is the most insightful and psychic human being I know.

Either that or he just knows me eerily well.

I like to pretend I’m somewhat mysterious so it works out better if he’s psychic.

Plus this is my blog and if I want him to be all cool with psychic powers and superhuman strength than I can.

So there…NEENER NEENER.  😛  LOL

The Marriage!

YAY!  This was probably the easiest choice I’ve ever had to make…and also the hardest.  I spent a good part of my childhood dreaming about my own wedding and planning it out.  Most girls have.

I spent months trying to decide how to incorporate a western Christian wedding with an eastern Hindu ceremony.  I found a few sites that offered some really excellent ideas…but I don’t know.  Something just didn’t feel right anymore.

And I realized one night what it was.  It was after watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I was contemplating on the difference between Buffy and Angel relationship and Buffy and Spike….

NoteFor a while I was a firm supporter of Buffy and Angel, but later I realized that Spike really worked his butt off to get a soul and make Buffy happy.  Relationships do not always work just because they were fated too…sometimes even soul mates have to work at it.  See?  BTVS really CAN be converted to solve any of life’s little problems!!!  Plus…Buffy just rules.  Also, I like it when Spike calls Angel a namby pamby nancy boy.  Funny!

Oh…right…back to the blog.

……and then it hit me.  I wasn’t happy with my old ideas of a western wedding because in those little day dreams I had always been marrying some non-descriptive boy.  In real life, I was marrying Bear, who was full of life and spice and was helping me make changes in my life and I in his.  We weren’t traditional in the non-traditional sense.  We were starting our own traditions while enjoying and still practicing some of the old ones.

So, I decided that I would prefer to have the traditional Hindu wedding…only.  And to have a western reception and style of wedding ceremony first, reception next, entire shin-dig a few hours…and then DONE.

So that is what we are doing, we are having the traditional Hindu Ceremony with a few changes.  My Brother will bring me in instead of an Uncle because I don’t have one.  My father will still give me away to Bear…even though he swears he’s going to do it while begging Bear to “Take my Daughter…PLEASE!”

Below, I’ve included what each ceremony is called and a small description of it.  Most likely our wedding will be held at Arya Samaj temple in Anaheim and the wedding ceremony’s that they perform tend to be a little less dramatic with KHUP less of rituals to be performed.  Arya Samaj Wedding Ceremony

While various regional steps are followed by different sects of Hindus across India, the following 13 steps form the core of a Vedic wedding ceremony:

  • Vara SatkaarahReception of the bridegroom and his kinsmen at the entrance gate of the wedding hall where the officiating priest chants a few mantras and the bride’s mother blesses the groom with rice and trefoil and applies tilak of vermilion and turmeric powder.
  • Madhuparka Ceremony – Reception of the bridegroom at the altar and bestowing of presents by the bride’s father.
  • Kanya Dan – The bride’s father gives away his daughter to the groom amidst the chanting of sacred mantras.
  • Vivah-Homa – The sacred fire ceremony ascertaining that all auspicious undertakings are begun in an atmosphere of purity and spirituality.
  • Pani-Grahan – The groom takes the right hand of the bride in his left hand and accepts her as his lawfully wedded wife.
  • Pratigna-Karan – The couple walk round the fire, the bride leading, and take solemn vows of loyalty, steadfast love and life-long fidelity to each other.
  • Shila Arohan – The mother of the bride assists her to step onto a stone slab and counsels her to prepare herself for a new life.
  • Laja-Homah – Puffed rice offered as oblations into the sacred fire by the bride while keeping the palms of her hands over those of the groom.
  • Parikrama or Pradakshina or Mangal Fera – The couple circles the sacred fire seven times. This aspect of the ceremony legalizes the marriage according to the Hindu Marriage Act as well custom.
  • Saptapadi – Marriage knot symbolized by tying one end of the groom’s scarf with the bride’s dress. Then they take seven steps representing nourishment, strength, prosperity, happiness, progeny, long life and harmony and understanding, respectively.
  • Abhishek – Sprinkling of water, meditating on the sun and the pole star.
  • Anna Praashan – The couple make food offerings into the fire then feed a morsel of food to each other expressing mutual love and affection.
  • Aashirvadah – Benediction by the elders.
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4 thoughts on “Intercultural Marriages…some challenges faced.

  1. We had, let’s see…
    Kanya Daan, Vivah-Homa, Pani-Grahan, Pratigna-Karan, Laja-Homah, Parikrama, and Saptapadi. They aren’t all required for it to be a Hindu marriage, so you could cut some things out, if you wanted.

    Every time I see someone planning a wedding, I become more and more thankful that we didn’t do anything. No worries over a manglasutra (oh, I should wear this simple gold bangle all the time? I can do that), no worries over name changes (Bengalis don’t have this custom), no wedding planning (we’ll show up and do whatever you tell us, as long as we don’t have to plan anything). 😀

    • Two words.

      You Suck.

      😛

      LOL, Yeah, we aren’t doing all the rituals I listed either. We’re going to talk about it more this weekend once he comes.

      What’s so funny is that I was actually thinking today, even though you are on the East Coast…you have already done this before…so I was thinking of making you my wedding coordinator. I felt SO BAD for you not having to do anything for YOUR wedding I thought YOU might like to do it for MINE!!!!!! 😛 😛 😛

      Actually, I’m really lucky as one of my good friends here is Hindu and she is going to help me quite a lot. Although she’s laughing her head off about it though…cuz I asked her about the whole sitting in the Sari thing. 😛 Whatever. It could fall ok??? It could TOTALLY come off during the ceremony!!!!

  2. I am completely enamored by all this – it’s fascinating how beautifully you waltz with each other’s culture.
    Wow! And this research is extensive! If any of my friends is doing a cross-culture marriage, I am definitely recommending your blog to him/her!
    PS: Thanks for your comment on my blog too!

    • YAY! Thank you so much for the compliments!

      At first, I was completely terrified of making some “Foo Paw” (as my Dad calls it – hehehe) with regards to the Hindu ceremony, but I have found so much online, have so many good friends and an excellent temple to guide me!

      Now I’m excited! Bring on the Anna Praashan! I’m gonna do a “westernized” version and smear it on his face! hehehe (Ok, so probably not but man it makes me happy to think about it!)

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