Five Russian couples who visited India to participate in an Art of Living programme last year, were inspired by the purity of a traditional Indian marriage to come back and tie the knot 'Vedic style' in 2015.
The couples visited the Bengaluru-based Art of Living ashram last year during the annual Navarati festivities and witnessed a marriage ceremony that spurred their decision. "These ceremonies are conducted in the centre, but are not part of the programme," says Dinesh Kashikar, a faculty member. "Several international visitors have viewed the ceremonies and the odd couple does decide to get married here, but we have never witnessed five couples being inspired enough to actually come back and get married in this fashion."
Gennodi and Natalia from Berezousky revealed the reason behind their decision: "We got married in an ancient and holy ceremony. In Russia we would not be able to get such a feeling that we have here, with the Vedic traditions."
Another couple, Yury and Natalia who have already been married for 22 years said that they did not want to miss the opportunity to get married again in accordance with the ancient Vedic traditions, Sanskrit chants and mantras as they felt it would strengthen their bond and their marriage. "The seven promises made during the saptapadi also signifies characteristic of married life, of being together. Rituals performed during the wedding ceremony hold a symbolic significance, like the laja homa that is performed with puffed rice. Puffed rice signifies fullness, and mantras chanted during the homa brings fullness in our lives," says Kashikar.
He also added that today's ceremonies in India involve different activities such as the mehendi and the reception, which have never been a part of the traditional vivaha. "There is no such thing as kanyadaan. The ceremonies in the Vedic vivaha talk about invoking the divinity in both the groom and bride. They talk of hasta-milaap — joining the two families together. Thus the bride and the groom play an equal role as partners, rather than one being given to the other."
The ceremony was performed by pandits from The Veda Agama Samskrutha Maha Patashala, the Heritage School of The Art of Living, and was led by Sri A.S. Sundara Murthy Sivam, the principal. "The pathashala arranged everything for the couples right from choosing a suitable date to fixing an auspicious time, and the preparations for the ceremony," says Kashikar.