Marriage is considered a pivotal event of one’s lifetime, the epitome of a romantic union based on love. It is the most primal thought expressed by all life forms. Naturally, humans express it vividly.
We all know that love is celebrated through marriage. Over the years, it has become an important social institution worldwide. South India considers it a sacred tradition filled with special emotions and sentiments. Like all, the ceremonies have evolved with time and added significant meaning to the value of life.
We decided to make our day special in our own unique way.
I wish to narrate the journey and explain wedding day celebrations through the words of one of the special invitees, “the World Psychiatrist of 2012”. I indeed had the privilege to be acquainted with this great human and it was kind of him to accept my invitation. To place emphasis on the purpose of the occasion, no names have been mentioned in this article.
Like all tales, to begin the story of my marriage, a brief history is necessary. So, here is a window into my journey.
I am a scientist (Neuro-oncogeneticist) who fell in love with DNA and the wondrous life it created at the tender age of 13. The love for DNA had to in due course mature into something bigger with age, and I started to dedicate my life to the universal wonders.
It took me more than a decade to find an apt companion for life, one who shares a similar love for science and the quest to understand the purpose of our universe. You might have guessed it by now, like most love stories we did meet in the university during the beginning of our doctoral research. But, it wasn’t the dreamiest of introductions that one would see in the world of romantic books or movies. But it was unique indeed.
The relationship blossomed on the lines of passion towards the field of study we were involved in. The moral of the childhood story, The Tortoise and the Hare best describes how our mutual feelings took shape into a gigantic step of marriage. We decided to call the bell after the completion of our doctoral degree.
Time, however, had other plans. The situations leading up to the marriage turned to be adventurous inducing an adrenaline rush. Coincidentally, my Ph.D completion date and marriage were on to be held on the same week. With both events being of utmost importance to us, the phase was exciting as well as strenuous. Suddenly, we felt like Olympic athletes running both the 100 and 200m sprint at the same time. Jokes aside, I suppose we managed to succeed in both with support from our very dear families.
On the day of our marriage, the planning and execution of wedding celebrations was precisely carried out. We wanted the day to be like none before, incorporating the facts of science, the artistic brilliances of different cultures and traditions, and more importantly the need of the hour, a day that meant to be a purpose to the environment. The day is described below in the words of the above mentioned special invitee.
The general public uses various ways to make the day "special". During the six plus decades of our life, we have seen three types of making the day special.
The most common one is to celebrate the day in an ostentatious manner. There is no limit to the imagination and the amount of money spent to celebrate the day – from the wedding card, to the elaborate lunch, decorations in the wedding hall to gifts to the attending guests. This group considers it an occasion to both to show their money power as well as their magnanimity.
The second group, a smaller number, go the opposite way to make the day a simple event and share their day by donating what they can to a good cause. This is socially more desirable, especially in a country with such inequalities and needs in the general population.
The third group is rare and exceptional. These individuals make the day special both to themselves as the one getting married, as well as to all the guests attending the occasion. Those who choose this path go out of their way to not only have a simple wedding function, but to build meaning into everything associated with the event.
On April 22, 2017, we were fortunate to be part of an event belonging to the third group.
This is the marriage of Mano and his spouse.
It has been so special that we will remember the evening for the rest of our life!
The special quality began with the invitation card. Besides being printed on recycled paper, it reminded the invitees, the larger universe as well as the micro-world of the area of work of the couple, namely the chromosomes, which formed the border of the wedding card.
The choice of the day, World Earth day, was by choice, to both reaffirm their commitment to the cause of climate change/environment and to remind all guests about the larger universe of which we all are a part. This was very meaningful and thoughtful. The request to not bring flowers took a special meaning beyond austerity.
The evening itself was very well planned. The setting was very much like an outdoor setting with palm trees and water fountains and ponds of water all around. The cool surroundings with subdued lighting was full of emotional warmth. The cultural diversity was displayed throughout the venue with paintings from artists across the country.
The celebrations began with the entry of the couple dancing to an international tune in Indian style, followed by cake cutting. It was creative of them to make the cake in the shape of a cell, the unit of life.
The introductory and congratulatory speeches by proud parents and siblings brought the personal aspects and the special nature of the couple. There was both pride for their children and grace for the good things in nature.
A mime play by the groom’s brother and voiced by his sister was very special. It was not only well prepared and executed, it also brought the earth’s history into capsule form and reminded one of the universality – in both time and nature – of the union of males and females throughout history.
The usual ritual of group photography with guests was converted into a special occasion. Instead of people looking stiffly into the camera for frame after frame, there were group photos of happy people with the couple and the two families. It was a treat to the senses to have a delicious A-La-Carte dinner combined with cultural performances-pan Indian themed music and dances by family and friends.
The way the evening ended was truly symbolic. Each guest was gifted a plant to remind them of the special day and the role each of us has in maintaining and nurturing the universe! Additionally, the value of human equality was signified by appreciating each member with a memento that was handmade by the Association for Mentally Challenged in Bangalore.
We were glad to be part of the day. We felt special to be invited to the occasion and privileged to bless the couple.
We wish the couple many years of a happy married life, fulfilling professional careers and more importantly to see their commitment to the universe take full shape. All of this as they are special.
I feel honoured to have received this personal letter written to us by this special invitee.
The purpose of us planning the event was to bring forth a new meaning to the existing cultural norms. A modern scientific approach to an ancient cultural event, emphasizing the purpose of companionship and environmental consciousness over the prevailing materialistic status quo.
I hope that our story can serve as an inspiration for people who believe in a universal concept of human relationships.