Indian Couple has 4 Wedding ceremonies sequentially
Four religions, one wedding; Haryana couple an icon of secularism
CHANDIGARH: A newly wed couple here has become overnight celebrity after they got married four times - according to Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian rites.
It was their way of healing the scars caused by the sectarian riots in Gujarat last year and demonstrating that most Indians were essentially secular.
"I thought about getting married according to Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian rites just after the Gujarat riots," said the beaming 27-year-old groom, Ajay Kwatra.
"Marriage is one of the most important events in a couple's life. I wanted to spread the message of peace, brotherhood and communal harmony," added Kwatra, a Delhi-based fashion photographer.
His wife Manisha, 26, was initially hesitant but agreed when Ajay patiently explained the reasons to her.
The event has also made it to the Limca Book of World Records, the Indian Guinness.
"This is the first time in the world a couple had got married according to Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh rites. It will certainly be mentioned in our next edition," V.V.R. Murty, marketing manager of the Limca Book of World Records, who attended the ceremony, told IANS.
The marriage, which took place Monday, was quite an event.
First, Pandit Dataram Mishra conducted it according to Hindu rites with Manisha appropriately dressed in a glittering maroon embroidered lehnga, or flowing skirt, and Ajay in a cream suit. This ended with Ajay applying vermilion on Manisha's forehead.
The couple quickly changed and appeared before Hafiz Mohammad Umar for the 'nikaah', or wedding ceremony, according to Muslim rights.
For this, Manisha wore a bright red salwar kameez and Ajay a cream sherwani, complete with cap and red scarf.
With a green cloth separating the couple, the Muslim cleric asked Manisha for her consent and she replied in the affirmative: "Qabool hai (I do)".
Then came the turn of the Sikh priest, Giani Gurdeo Singh.
Manisha covered her head while Ajay wore a red turban as they went around the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scripture, four times amidst chanting by the priest.
Next, Father G. Samuel of Faith Baptist Church led Manisha, dressed in a white gown and bonnet, and Ajay in exchanging marriage vows and rings.
Manisha got to know about Ajay's unique idea just a week before the wedding.
"It was only seven days before our marriage that he told me his plans. I was not only shocked but also confused. Then he convinced me and I agreed. After all, we are first human beings then Hindus, Muslims, Christians or Sikhs."
Both belong to conservative Hindu families and their parents too were initially taken aback at Ajay's plans.
Said Prem Kwatra, Ajay's father: "I initially opposed the idea. But when Ajay asked me whether as a physician, I discriminated while treating patients because of their religion, I understood his point. We believe in humanity." In all this, the couple have kept their honeymoon destination secret.
"We do not want the media to follow us. We want some privacy," explained Ajay.