Baltimore, MD, September, 2006.
In many weddings, the bride and the groom think of their marriage as their commitment to each. However, in an ancient Indian tradition, the wedding is much more than that. It is really the joining of two families and the growth of a new branch on each of their family trees. In Raju and Monica’s wedding, all traditions and religious beliefs were not only maintained but energized for others to emulate. Raju and Monicaï¿½s pre-wedding activities started with a meeting of the two families and a formal agreement to hold the wedding using traditional rituals and religious ceremonies. This was accomplished during a ceremony and in presence of witnesses. The wedding ceremony held in Detroit was performed with ancient Indian rituals along with entertainment programs. The message being implied here is that it is not just two people going through a wedding ceremony, but rather the joining of two families with commitments from the couple and the extended families.
Raju and Monicaï¿½s wedding reception (and also Rajuï¿½s welcome back celebration) took place on September 30, 2006 at the Greater Baltimore Temple. The ceremony was simple but elegant with full attention to traditions and details. The ladies in their colorful saris and the gentlemen in their formal jackets added a special atmosphere to the occasion. The hosts, Manu & Niru Shah and their daughter Meena, as well as, the brideï¿½s parents Praful & Pratima Shah and their daughter Anupa were there to welcome everyone. Raju and his bride Monica also greeted everyone at the door. The hall echoed with soothing Indian music. Each food selection offered a new taste and opportunity to experience something new. All guests mingled with each other and enjoyed the celebration.
The evening entertainment started with the introduction of Meena, Rajuï¿½s sister. Meenaï¿½s composure as the Master of Ceremony was most impressive. She introduced Dr. Manoj Dharamsi who gave the benediction with a Jain prayer. His short explanation of the Jain Mangalik (prayer) and its recitation in a melodious voice was impressive. It was a great start for the program.
The stage program that followed included opening remarks by Praful Shah followed by singing, dancing, and closing comments. It was well organized and well presented. Rajuï¿½s poem to Monica ï¿½The Best Is Yet To Comeï¿½ touched every one, especially Monica. Mark McCoy & Monisha Shah also put to music and sang the same poem. This was followed by Markï¿½s comments about his experience with an Indian wedding. Mark indicated that he thoroughly enjoyed being part of it and learned a few Indian wedding rituals. Markï¿½s comments were followed by a beautiful classical Kuchipudi dance rendered by Shivali Choxi. Shivali chose the most appropriate dance for the occasion: a dance about Ram and Sita’s wedding story. This was followed by Anupa who entertained the audience with an energetic, self-choreographed piece from the hit song ï¿½Kajra Reï¿½ from the movie Bunty Aur Bubli. Dr. Manoj Dharamsi ended the formal program with beautiful rendition of the song “Jab Koi Baat Bighad Jaaye/Muskil Pad Jaaye, Tum Dena Saath Mera” which says “Please always support me during my bad times. You are the only one I can rely/depend on”. This was a fitting end to the formal stage program and very appropriate for the occasion. Rajuï¿½s dad Manu Shah ended the stage program by conveying thanks to all who helped with the program logistics and also to all guests and participants; and recognized family members and those who had traveled long distances to be present at this function. It was history, tradition, enjoyment, humor, and good wishes all wrapped up in a very entertaining program.
The dinner or main meal was Jain vegan. It turned out to be an enjoyable and interesting meal. Serving arrangements were excellent. Raju & Monica went around the tables to meet all the guests. The cake cutting ceremony after dinner included a vegan cake of Rajuï¿½s choice. The warm feelings touched Monica, and she became very emotional while making her comments.
The reception program ended with Raas Garba. Raju & Monica started the dance and they were soon joined by almost everyone. As the tempo started building up, it changed the atmosphere. Everyone felt at home and danced their heart out. It was one of the memorable scenes at this function.
It was impressive to see Raju’s pride in following Jain faith. The location for the function, starting the event with a Jain prayer, selection of food, decoration and entertainment programs, all were the witness to his strong faith and beliefs in religion and culture.
The function was well planned; one can see how much hard work went on behind the scenes for planning and giving attention to details and every minute of the program including the provisions to meet the needs of those attending the function who needed to eat before the sunset. It was a great evening: traditional, entertaining and enjoyable. All participants thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the function.
Contributions to the article by John McCarty, Manohar Hegde and Dilip Patel.