Mumbai: Not to sound too boastful, but I had a wedding most would just dream of. No – it was not about how extravagant the decoration was. It was also not that I was adorning a designer outfit with exquisite jewellery. Or that the venue was a luxurious getaway. But when I show pictures of my wedding to anyone, it blows their mind away – and rightfully so.
The fact that we are a Hindu-Muslim couple (you do not see many around) was one of the reasons. It was love at first sight, when we first met during our MBA in Indian Institute of Management. Our’s was a destination wedding, but not a typical one that you hear, where your Pammi aunty celebrated her daughter’s wedding in Thailand with an entourage of thousands or Chaddha Uncle threw a lavish ceremony in Canada for his son. Our guest list was of 60 of our closest friends, who packed their bags and became a part of the most wonderful 2 days of our lives that too in Goa!
Our wedding was featured in many popular blogs and wedding sites – but I thought it made much more sense if I wrote our story, because nobody really knows the entire story.
One of the biggest concerns that my folks had on marrying a Muslim was the fact that they are allowed to get married 4 times. As you will read ahead, you will see that God took care of that concern automatically – we married 4 times. If you are expecting a lot of drama in my story, believe me, I am going to surpass all your expectations (hear hear, Bollywood directors ;))
Take 1, Scene 1, Action – Boyfriend and Papa meet for the first time.
It has been 2 years of trying to convince Papa, and as a last resort, we decide it is time. Time to make this test series an action packed 20-20 match. The boyfriend, unannounced rings my doorbell, taking my Papa completely by surprise. My mom turned red, she did not know whether to make ‘chai’ or run inside the room and burst out crying. Papa, very calmly, went inside, changed out of his home clothes into something more formal. I was terrified, but knew that we could not have postponed this further. Then there was a long monologue by my boyfriend – explaining how he will not convert my religion or change my name or make me eat non-veg or make me follow his culture or make me wear a burkha or marry anyone else or whatever other doubts my parents expressed in the last 2 years. He ended by saying he will pamper me as much as my Papa did as he knew that he could not pamper me more! At this point in time, any Bollywood movie would have shown a teary eyed Dad get up from the sofa and hug the hero, but that did not happen in my story. My Dad asked my boyfriend to leave (respectfully so), promising him that he will never ever be part of this marriage or our lives if we decided to live it together. I was crying of course, but not because I had to choose. I had made my choice 2 years back already when I had told my parents. I was crying because I had somehow wished to magically change my Dad’s 50 years of thinking in that one meeting, but we failed. We however realised that it was time to step on the peddle and accelerate our lives out of this everyday emotional drama that had engulfed us all.
Take 1, Scene 2, Action: Wedding 1 – The Ram-Mandir wedding
Everything then moved in fast-forward. We decided on a date for our court marriage – 18th Feb 2015. We were to get married by the Special Marriage Act. There even were meetings with Astrologers and Lawyers to convince my mom that A) Our kundalis matched and B) The Special Marriage Act does not allow a Muslim to marry 4 times! We both told our parents the date. My in-laws were ecstatic and immediately booked their tickets from Lucknow to Mumbai. My folks on the other hand refused to be a part of our wedding.
On the 14th of Feb (I remember because we were on a romantic Valentine’s date), I got a phone call from my Mom. Apparently 18th Feb was “Amavasya”, and it was highly inauspicious to get married on Amavasya. And this she tells me 4 days before my wedding. It broke my heart to break her heart, but the marriage was happening, and I knew that it being a New Moon Day will not decide if I was going to be happy with my guy or not.
My Dad does sound like the Amrish Puri of DDLJ, but he is as emotional as the Anupam Kher of DDLJ. He was adamant of not being a part of our wedding, but he agreed to send my Mom and brother to be a part of it! Hurray! But then there was also the Amavasya angle. Everyone decided to get us married a day earlier (17th Feb was Maha Shivratri) in a Mandir. We were ok with that arrangement, anything that gives them a hope that this was meant to work out. So on 17th night, we all dressed up in pretty clothes, bought 2 var-malas and got married in a small Ram-mandir at the foot of the Mahalaxmi temple. We were married – a day earlier than we had initially planned.
Take 1, Scene 3, Action: Wedding 2 – Court Marriage
The day had arrived. Too many people were meeting too many people for the first time. The parents were more nervous than us. What would they say to each other? Salaam Valekum or Namaste? But once they met, it did not matter. They hugged, they laughed and the wedding ceremony was as simple and endearing as it could be. He filled my maang with Sindoor, put mangal sootra around my neck and yes, we were officially and legally married! We missed my father, but knew that time was the biggest healer.
Take 1, Scene 4, Action: Wedding 3 – The Nikaah
The vision was, if nothing conventional has happened in our love-story till now, why end it in a conventional way? Even though we were technically married in court a month before the celebrations, both me and Faiz wanted to celebrate our togetherness with pomp with our closest friends. The aim was to have a budget destination wedding with world class pictures and videos and a hell lot of fun, such that everyone who attended our wedding would think of it as the best wedding of their lives! After a lot of brainstorming we boiled down to 3 functions – 1.Mehandi & Sangeet followed by Nikah (Muslim Style wedding), 2. DJ Night with cake cutting, rings and vows exchange, and 3. Beach side Phere (Hindu style wedding).
The functions were spread over 2 days: on 14th morning we started with Sangeet and Mehendi function, followed by Nikaah Ceremony. The entire setup was based on a Moroccan theme, where we placed canopies for the girls and diwans for the guys. The dress code was Salwar Kurta/ Anarkali for girls and Kurta pyjama for boys. We had placed hukkas for our guests to accentuate the entire ‘Moroccan’ theme. The cheesy sangeet songs, and many dance performances (including ours on chikni kamar, kisi disco mei jaaye) added colors to the entire function.
Nikaah was a funny story in itself. As a bride, I was looking forward to saying the words ‘Qubool hai’, but the Qazi had methods of his own. My signature was deemed enough of a ‘Razamandi’ and he did not find it necessary for me to say ‘Qubool hai’. I was furious and somehow passed on the message to Faiz on the other side of the ‘Parda’, that he better not mess this one up! And after a lot of persuasion, the Qazi finally agreed and I got to say ‘Qubool Hai’!
Everyone soon started preparing for the sundown party which was a masquerade themed party. The entire setup was close to the beach on a cemented platform covered on all sides with palm trees. We setup a ramp for our guests flanked by Balinese flags on either sides. There were huge masquerade cut-outs to bring out the theme. The grand entry was followed by ring exchange ceremony, in which we both gave very emotional speeches, followed by our friends’ not-so-emotional ones. Then there was cake cutting and then we both danced on the number ‘Ishq wala love, faiz wala love’ (yes-intentionally ;)) The dance floor was then open and neither of us remembers how the next 3 hours passed. The next thing I remember is sitting on the beach in my gown at 1 in the night and eating my dinner, while singing retro hindi romantic numbers.
Take 1, Scene 5, Action: Wedding 4 – The Beachside Pheras
Such a happening night was then followed by the most beautiful and much awaited morning of our lives – getting married right on the beach!!
Post the groom’s ‘dhol-waking-up-routine’ and the entire Sajna-dhajna and dozens of picture clicks later, the groom set out towards the beach with his ‘baraat’ which was him, not on a ghodi, or a baggi, or a car, but a super-cool lambretta! His friends danced to the dhol beats while he drove the lambretta in endless swag.
It was now the my turn to make an entry. Mine was a much graceful affair, with my closest girls holding a flowing dupatta on my head while I slowly made my way to the most beautiful mandap I had seen in my life. After an hour of laughs and jokes and ‘reeti-riwaaz’, we were finally married in all possible ways!
But that was not it. The marriage was followed by some perfect clicks on the beach with all our friends! The lunch that followed was a befitting end to this fairy-tale wedding, where people not only took back the amazing taste, but special memories as well! The compliments we received and the fun that we had made it all worth it.
It has been 2 years since this spectacular time, and by God’s grace, both our families have happily accepted our union. We get to stuff ourselves with ghee-filled aloo parathas at my home or finger-licking sevai at his!
So that’s how my Muslim husband got married 4 times, but yes everytime with the same lucky girl ?
Photo credits: Namit Narlawar, founder Knotty Affairs
Makeup credits: Sukanya Manerikar
Outfit credits: Jigna Koradia Doshi
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