The ABCD problem: Asking too many questions
There was a story about blended wedding ceremonies in CNN’s Defining America series last week that featured a Hindu and Jewish couple. My first thought was, “why couldn’t this have been published when we were wedding planning?!” You know how much research we both had to do? Rummaging through the dusty shelves of the Philadelphia Public library looking for books on planning interfaith wedding ceremonies I was disappointed to find a majority of them only on Christian-Jewish unions. J and I both looked up all the rituals of our religions and asked questions to our relatives about them.
Why do we do seven circles?
If Jews do seven circles and Hindus do seven circles than does that mean we have to do 14 circles at our ceremony? Won’t we get dizzy? Won’t the guests get bored?
What does the sindoor symbolize?
These are questions that arise from not just cultural differences and curiosity but also generational differences. As the interfaith minister in the CNN article said, “Couples today want to be intimately involved in the wedding ceremony.” They want to collaborate and be a part of designing it with their officiant(s) and their families. This is a contrast from a few generations ago when couples of all religions would simply follow a script.
During wedding planning, when I bombarded my dida with various questions about Hindu rituals she replied, “Amader diney amra eto proshno kortam na” (In my day we didn’t ask so many questions.) When my grandmother got married, the vows and mantras she recited were pre-written in Sanskrit, the rituals she participated in were done for generations before and she simply had to have faith that what she was repeating and doing made sense and aligned with her beliefs. Maybe young couples today, especially ones who grew up constantly challenging their beliefs are more skeptical of traditions? Maybe we are more willing to do research because it is so easy in the Net Generation? I think that we have evolved from American-Born Confused Desis to American-Born Curious Desis.
On a closing note, I wanted to share a really nice shout out we received in the Minyan Dorshei Derekh website. I’m grateful to live in a place and time where relationships like ours are accepted and even considered to be part of defining America.