We live in a global setting and today’s weddings reflect this great diversity. Many weddings I perform include ceremonies from each side so that everyone can feel included. Including special ethnic ceremonies is a wonderful way to personalize a ceremony and make it really special.
The ceremony was held in the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization where we were surrounded by Native art. The setting certainly provided an appropriate surrounding for this internationally themed wedding. The bride was of European descent and he was East Indian. Their friends in the audience were from all types of nationalities.
I was standing on a stage with the groom among the world’s largest and finest collection of totem poles, looking out the 365 ft by 50 ft windows onto the Ottawa River. It is very awe inspiring to be in such a position. The music began and the bride with her father walked in. She was beautiful in one of the most unique wedding dresses I have ever seen. It was a white and silver sari.
After my western type ceremony, we proceeded to several East Indian ceremonies. The couple wanted to include these because they had special meaning to them and their families. They invited the groom’s mother to perform the following rituals:
Chandlo Ceremony – The groom’s mother offered the newly weds sweets and placed a yellow mark (saffron) on their foreheads. This is to signify good fortune, prosperity and their initiation into matrimony. Rice, a symbol of prosperity and love, was then showered on the couple.
Ponkwa Ceremony – This ceremony symbolizes the warding off of evil spirits and removal of misfortune from the couple’s new lives. The groom’s mother wraped a beetle nut (sopari) in the corner of her shawl and made four circular motions around the couple. This was repeated four times with a beetle nut being cast to the four cardinal points of the earth.
Dukhna Ceremony – This represents the removal of all worries and ‘dukh’ from the couple. Dukh is Sanskrit meaning suffering and misfortune. The mother removed the dukh by placing her hands on either side of the couple’s heads, whispering a prayer and cracking her knuckles beside their temples. This way she broke the forces of evil
Ghadi Ceremony – The Groom’s mother purified the couple with holy water that was contained in a vessel known as the ghadi. The water was poured from the ghadi onto the feet of the bride and groom to signify their state of blessedness.
Sapatia Ceremony – Two sets of clay bowls, known as saapatia were placed in front of the bride and groom. Each contained lentils – symbolizing the bounty of nature, silver – denoting material wealth, sugar – representing sweetness and harmony, and turmeric – a sign of good health. The couple broke the saapatia by stepping on them in order to release the gifts they contained. Traditionally, the first to break the saapatia is believed to rule the house.
Bandhni Ceremony – The groom’s mother draped a protective shawl or baandhni over the couple and lead them symbolically to the family home where they formally crossed the threshold into their new life.
Khobo Ceremony and Gift Presentation to the Bride – A tray full of coins was presented to the bride symbolizing a wish of prosperity for her. The bride was invited to cup her hands and take as much as she can handle.
After the ceremony, the guests were invited to a variety of food stations that reflected the couple’s love of food. There was a carving station with Alberta beef; a seafood station with shrimp and salmon; an Italian pasta station with penne and tortellini; an Indian station with butter chicken and finally a Japanese sushi station with maki and California rolls. This couple really seemed to embrace a global existence.
The photo is courtesy of Mike Dickson at www.photosforlife.ca