Avrom and ina have their roots in cultures that have surprising similarities and interesting differences. Avrom is a native Californian (very rare species, that) who has roots in both Eastern European Jewish and Scottish Methodist traditions. Ina is a pretty typical Nebraskan girl, except that her parents are Bengali (northern Indian) by way of England and Canada. In some ways, we're the quintessence of the Californian couple - a little bit of everything, all mixed together.
Trying to create a wedding day that reflects who we are, where we come from, and where we're headed is a little like trying to stuff two of every species of animal into a VW Beetle. So not only might you have seen odd juxtapositions of cultural traditions, some of these traditions might be unfamiliar to you. And on top of that (since we're not exactly a couple known for leaving well enough alone), we modified some of those traditions to suit particular values that we share.
Chuppah: The large canopy under which Jewish wedding ceremonies are performed is called a chuppah. Just click on the chuppah link below for information about the chuppah we created.
Where's the bouquet? Ina carried a decorated mirror rather than a bouquet. The Hindu tradition of bridal mirrors was started to prevent the bride from being stolen by demons. The mirror reflects the bride's face back to her so that, in theory, demons and other nasties can't get a look at her in all her finery and decide she'd make a great demon-bride. Some people believe that the veil traditionally worn by Jewish brides had a very similar function. The mirror has the added benefit of letting the bride make sure she doesn't have lipstick on her teeth, also a plus.
Mehndi (Men-dhi): You may have noticed that the bride and groom both had dark reddish-brown patterns on their hands; this "mehndi" is a non-permanent design made of henna. In Hindu tradition, the bride has her hands painted a few days prior to the wedding. The dye's red color and the patterns of flowers and leaves are considered to promote happiness and fertility (which is why Indian brides wear red for the ceremony). The names of the bride and groom are interwoven into the bride's mehndi, and the groom is supposed to spend time after the wedding trying to search for them. In addition, the red color is believed to help ward off evil beings who might otherwise want to steal the bride away (for more information on why Indians spend so darned much time worrying about the bride being stolen, see the summary of the Ramayana at http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/maxpages/special/ramayana/story.htm. Traditionally, the groom does not have his hands hennaed, but this tradition is changing rapidly. So Avrom received Mehndi designs too, to double the luck and prosperity symbolized and to emphasize the fact that both members of a married couple contribute to the future happiness of their family.
Who was that kid and why was she carrying ina's shoes? The kid with the big eyes and red slippers is Devony, daughter of one of the chuppah holders (Margaret) and her lovely husband Rob, who stand in as ina's sister and brother in law. ina considers Dev to be therefore an honorary niece, and Dev considers ina to be her very own "inana" and Avrom to be her "Vwom." (we don't ask, we just assume Dev knows what she's talking about). Anyhow, Indian brides generally walk barefoot during important events-- it's a sign of respect for the ceremony. But breaking the glass might have been tricky in bare feet, so Dev did the honors of protecting inana's feet, in lieu of being a flower-girl.
That didn't look like a cake server ? It wasn't. It's a Hindu ceremonial knife. We both come from religious backgrounds that are quite old, and back in the day, those religions did occasionally go in for animal sacrifices. The point of course was to show a grateful attitude to Life and of course to share with others the results of the sacrifice as a feast. Gratitude for the good things in life and loving to share them are very important to us - HOWEVER, Avrom's tradition hasn't practiced animal sacrifice for thousands of years. And ina (putting aside the fact that she's even more hopeless a softy about animals than Avrom) felt that it would all be a bit of a mess and the Palo Alto Women's Club might have something to say about it. So we retained the spirit of the ceremony by sacrificing the gorgeous cake Bala made for us, sharing it with one another in the spirit of gratitude for having found one another, and sharing it with all of you - the people who bring us so much love and joy.
The poem: The poem David read was written by Rabindinath Tagore, a Bengali poet-laureate who happened to hail from the same town as ina's father.
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