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An immigrant’s point of view

Vivaah Sanskaar

Posted by admin On October - 20 - 2009  Print  Email  

She approached the mandap (marriage canopy) in a yellow  sari and then a red bridal lehenga choli. Decked in gold jewelry, from the crown of her head to her hennaed  hands, her mother and aunt escorted her into the  temple for her vivaah Sanskaar, wedding.

Following the grahashanti (invoking of peace with the nine planets), the dulaha (groom), dressed in a flowing pink silk brocade suit with matching turban and a sehra (flowers suspended in strings over the forehead),  along with saibala at his side, joined her  in the mandap. To the left, on the altar, deities, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, Saraswatie, Ganesh, Hanuman, and others witnessed the proceedings.

Trinidadian immigrants Kelly Ann Heeralal of Linden, New Jersey, and Rajindra Maharaj, of Queens, New York, had exchanged mutual greetings for many years before realising they shared deep feelings for each other. Their lives came together through an abiding friendship that started with their mothers; Seeta Heeralal and Ena Maharaj. Neither could have predicted the outcome, but welcomed it. Their children’s gath bandhan (tying the nuptial knot), united them as family, and  they embraced that, too, willingly. Teary-eyed they watched them perform the sacred Hindu rituals that transformed their relationship from friends to husband and wife. Naresh Heeralal, deceased, was the dulahin’s father.  However, Roopa and Narad Boodram stepped in as her honorary parents. Badhase Maharaj is the dulaha’s father.

Though the day was cold and rainy, it could not quell the anticipation of the guests who had gathered at Prem Bhakti Mandir, at 172nd Street, Jamaica, Queens, on Sunday October 18, to celebrate the couple’s marriage. Pundits Vishal Maraj and Sharma Maharaj performed the ceremony. Tassa drummers kept feet and shoulders moving while guests feasted on a hearty vegetarian menu.



The vivaah sanskaar is the culmination of the three-day traditional Hindu rituals, which started on Friday with the maticoor. The beating of tassa drums signaled that the ceremony had started.  An all female entourage accompanied the drummers along the street in search of a stand pipe or area with running water for the maticoor. After singing and dancing they returned to the home for the hardi ritual (at the respective homes, the dulahin (bride) and dulaha are smeared with a paste of tumeric and oil to remove evil eye).

The following night, the cooking night, the laawa (rice paddy) was parched in a pot over the fire. It’s also the night when the couple prepares to bid farewell to their parents and the home where they had grown to adults. On Sunday, the vivaah sanskaar began with the baraat milaap, the arrival of the dulaha and his procession at the mandir.

The ceremony continued with the kanyadaan (giving away of the bride), the paani grahan (the acceptance of each other), sapta padi (the seven steps in a northerly direction to complete the marriage), the sindur daan (the dulaha applies vermilion to the dulahin’s forehead to signify that she is no longer single, but a married woman, his wife), this is followed by the mangal sutra daan (the dulaha places the mangal sutra (sacred marital necklace) around the dulahin’s neck) and completed the marriage with the pundits’ blessings.

And as the daylight faded into the dark sky, tassa drums rolled, hips moved, feet tapped and cameras clicked,  while the husband and wife prepared to return to the dulaha’s home for the welcoming ceremony, the grabbing of the bracelet and the kitchree (offerings of money to the couple). Next stage, the reception, on Friday October 23. I will be heading over there too, oh, yes, I will also update you on how that went. I hear it will be a blast, grog and meat, just try to stop Trinis from that freeness.

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Hi. My name is Susan Gosine-Herrera. I live in Queens, New York. This news blog is my way of highlighting all the interesting things, people and events I come across in this part of New York. If you have an interesting immigrant story or know of one or of an interesting immigrant, I will be happy to feature that story in these pages. Just send an email and I will be in touch. Meanwhile, live like a tourist, enjoy all you can, before you move on.

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