It was very nice having Asha, our landlady, there with us because she explained many parts of the ceremony to us. The official Hindu ceremony started around 7:30am, and we arrived around 8:30 am. People continued to randomly filter in for the next 2 or 3 hours. So different from an American wedding... people in the "audience" were openly chatting and conversing, kids running around, people greeting each other - meanwhile the priest and the couple were busy on stage. The ceremony was wonderful and truly packed with ritual. So much longer and more symbolic than the standard western wedding. Many different steps to go through, including certain individual family members on stage, or the groom's whole family onstage, or the bride and the groom tied together with string, or leading each other around the fire... many fascinating elements of the ceremony. This was an arranged marraige - the couple had known each other for about 6 months and were able to meet and make sure they felt good about one another before getting married. A combination of individual desire and family desire. One can see very clearly here how much importance is placed on the family, trusting your parents to make a good choice for you. The obvious assumption is that you love your family and your family loves you... which is very different from the strong trend in the U.S. toward independence and individuality. Seems like at home one is usually just considered very lucky for loving one's family so much... whereas here it is the base assumption!
After the ceremony we partook of a nice lunch at the wedding, and then got geared up for our next big event - the 33rd anniversary of the Iyengar Yoga Institute. How fortuitous to be here in Pune for the anniversary. It was a two-part affair - Saturday night and Sunday morning.
The next day was a bit more varied... it began with a lovely traditional women's dance performed by a group of 6 yoga students, a poetry recital, another yoga lecture ( a fascinating lecture on yoga and stress), and then the much-anticipated Children's Program. What fun! The children who attend the children's classes at the Institute did quite an impressive presentation on the concept of dharma (hard to translate its whole meaning, but often translated as "duty"). The presentation including singing, chanting, acting, readings, and dancing - telling tales from Indian mythology and Hinduism. It was a fascinating combination of ethics, discipline, religion, and moralistic stories. The children were adorable, of course. It's amazing to see how seriously they had tackled a rather heavy and heady topic, and made it into an entertaining program. It was also interesting to me how very Hindu the program was - although yoga is very much a philosophy (and not a religion) - India is a very, very deeply religious place and there is no need or interest on their part to distinguish between the two. I wonder if there are any Muslim children in the classes? Or Jain children? India is also very much a place of many different religions who coexist quite peacefully from what I see and read.
Anyhow, the whole affair ended with a lovely lunch of south Indian food - and then our non-stop celebration had come to an end!
Love to everyone!