Monday, May 25, 2009

The merging of two cultures, two religions

This weekend my husband and I attended the wedding of a friend/employee of MG's. She is Jewish and he is Jain. We thought the Indian part of the ceremony was going to be Hindu, but we were wrong.

Jainism is one of the most ancient surviving religious traditions in the world; with artifacts and historic documents dating back to 6000 B.C. Jainism is centered on the principles of the right faith (samyadarshan), knowledge (gsamyanana) and conduct (samyacharitra). Jainism has a long coexistence with Hinduism.

Don't I sound smart? I wish I could say I pulled this information from the wealth of knowledge I have in my brain, but I didn't. The bride and groom were kind enough to have programs explaining the histories of their religions and also the rituals that were performed during the ceremonies. Though I know the Jewish history and rituals, I was happy to have the explanation for the Jain Ceremony. A lot of it was conducted in Sanskrit, so there was also a narrator to explain what was happening during the ceremony, what the prayers and songs meant and why they were doing what they were doing. It lasted about an hour and there was an older (older as in his 80's) man sitting behind us who kept saying things like "aye-yae-yae, is it over yet?" He finally left the ceremony; it was outside and very muggy. During the Jewish Ceremony, we learned this man was the bride's grandfather! MG and I just referred to him as Mr. Cranky.

In between the ceremonies we escaped to the air conditioning, had drinks and yummy appetizers and then went back out for the Jewish Ceremony. It was a very traditional ceremony. The Rabbi was wonderful. He spoke so eloquently about the merging of these two ancient religions, cultures and rituals and about how proud he was to be a part of this marriage as it came together peacefully and inclusively with family and friends who had such diverse backgrounds and belief systems.

There were so many beautiful saris. Not like the ones you see on a typical day - these were the most beautiful fabrics with beautiful embellishments. During the reception, there was some Bollywood dancing, the Hora (the Jewish chair dance) and lots of traditional American songs and dance. The food was awesome, which was to be expected since it was catered by my favorite Indian restaurant!

I only have a couple of pictures. I thought it might look a little odd if I was there with my big camera, running up and down the aisle taking pictures of a couple I have only met on a few occasions. So I took a couple of photos with the camera on my phone. Oh, and we took a few photos of us before we left for the wedding.
This gazebo doubled as the mandap for the Jain ceremony. The Jewish Chuppah is also in there, but you can't see it in this picture. The Chuppah was used in the bride's grandparents and her parents' weddings. MG with is yamulke.

Me and MG.


  1. I've been to many interfaith religions here in New York City and that's the first I ever heard of explaining it in the program, great idea, great shot of you and MG, looking very happy indeed. ;-)

  2. What a terrific experience! I like the idea of learning about new and different cultures. And you look FABULOUS!

  3. You really look like Dana Delaney! I am hungry for Indian food. Loved the story of Mr. Cranky!

  4. You guys look fabulous! The ceremony looks beautiful also.

  5. Hi Jo,
    Beautiful! And the ceremony seems totally amazing. I love it when 2 cultures join together...
    I enjoy reading your posts...
    Have a great week!
    PS- I thought I was already following you from MBC -

  6. first of all, you two look great. that dress seems perfect for the occasion, and you look beautiful.

    what a fascinating post, jo. thanks for the explanation! i don't know a lot about hinduism, but i have never even HEARD of jainism. very, very cool.

  7. It sounds so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I always love hearing about new cultures, especially when they blend together so peacefully in this marriage! How cool was that wedding?! And excuse me, but ya'll are looking SHARP! Love the dress~

  9. I have never heard of Jain before, so that's gonna be my 'you learn something new every day' for today. Sounds like it was a beautiful ceremony, and I think it would have been cool to see all the history and culture unfolding in the ceremony.