On my second night at the Ashram, I am sitting in my room relaxing for awhile before this evening’s Yoga class, when I hear a knock at my door and open the door to an unfamiliar face. The man gestures and says Swamiji wants you, so I pepped up, rushing to gather my things for leaving my room. Quickly I began my decent down the three flights of stairs to the first floor of the ashram. Swamiji was to the right in the main office with two other attendees. Swamiji addressed me, asking how my day had been and how many Yoga classes I had attended so far for the day. Quickly I answered, telling him about the 7:00-8:15am and 10:30-11:45 classes that I had attended. Swamiji was pleased at hearing this and asked what my plans were for the evening. Being as I had nothing going on, besides being at the ashram, taking this evening’s 6:30-8:00pm class and having dinner, I told him just that. Swamiji then asked if I would like to accompany him to a Indian wedding. Surprised, I quickly said yes, relishing at the chance to experience such a thing. Swamiji then said that we would be leaving in 20 minutes, so to quickly get ready, which of course was simple, although I felt as if I would be under dressed as all I had for clothing were the plain white Khadi(Indian) cotton Kurta(long shirt) and Pajama(loose fitting cotton pants) of a spiritual aspirant. We got into our drivers car and as we steadily moved towards our destination, I imagined a simple traditional Indian wedding, but as we arrived I would be stunned to realize that we were attending the wedding of one of the wealthiest families in Gujarat(a state in India) who had made their fortune as tailors, having locations all over India. Many of the guests would be dignitaries, governors, wealthy business people, heads of different governmental departments throughout India, etc. The family also being close friends with India’s current Prime Minister. Honestly, I had never seen such extravagance in my whole life, I only wish I had taken more pictures to share with you.
We began with a procession of the guests through a sort of small maze with fountains, hanging lights, sculptures and greenery, then it opened up to the main stadium like outdoor area where the whole event would take place. I had the honor of being able to sit next to Swamiji on one of the many fine couches spread along the front lines of the event grounds, Swamiji explained many of the basic customs of the wedding in between the many guests who came to pay there respects and discuss with him. Waiters walked around offering all sorts of fancy drinks, deserts, hors d’oeuvres, etc. There was live music playing the entire time as we waited for the bride & groom. Every single person was adorned in their finest clothing, jewels & jewelry, head dresses, etc. It was seriously out of this world. The groom came out wearing a fine turban with a feather and jewel, he looked like a prince and as he sat down in the center area, he was then obscured from view by a silk sheet. Shortly after the bride came out, a sort of flower covered palanquin was carried over her head as she walked towards the middle stage, she looked like a princess awaiting her crowning, it was astonishing. She sat and the ceremony for the family’s offering of their daughter to the groom began(this is considered the greatest offering a person can give.) Shortly after Swamiji was asked to come over to them, he gestured for me and the other two people with us to follow with his gifts to the bride & groom. We got to the center platform, taking off our shoes, we entered a group of people surrounding the bride & groom, Swamiji wrapped a fine silk clothe with beautiful embroidery around their clasped hands, saying good wishes to each of them, then he put a crystal mala on each of their heads and wrapped another piece of fine silk with embroidery around both the bride and the groom individually, giving his blessing to their marriage and their happiness. After this, Swamiji was asked to take pictures in front of the group of photographers gathered, I assume from the press? I was honored that Swamiji asked for me to be included in these pictures, it was seriously such a wild experience to be a part of such a thing, one minute doing yoga in an ashram, the next at a high profile wedding. What can possibly happen next? We didn’t stay for dinner, but the dinner is a buffet style setup that is spread over 50-100 feet of tables, with food from all sorts of different cultures and I cant imagine what else the night held in store for the many guests in attendance.
Thanks for reading and ill keep posts coming as I can.
Much love & peace as always,