One of the major highlights of the past year or me has to be the wedding of my daughter, Trina, to Arun Ramamurthy on July 7, 2012. Trina and Arun are both first generation Americans with immigrant parents. This whole first generation of Americans especially those of with Asian ancestry is a result of a major immigration reform championed by President Johnson in the early 60’s. Prior to this reform, very few people were allowed to enter the United States from the Eastern Hemisphere as the majority of visa quotas were allocated to the Western Hemisphere. The reform opened immigration to anyone, and was mostly based upon qualification and not country of origin. This reform made it possible for South Asians, Filipinos, and others from eastern countries to start a new life in America and be part of the great “salad bowl” that the America was to become. Arun’s father and I both came to the States about the same time in the late sixties/early seventies and coincidentally, we both lived in New York City, but didn’t know each other then. Who says politics doesn’t matter or affect people’s lives??? A good reminder to everyone in the Presidential election year!!!
Music brought them together. Trina and Arun are happy and are bonded by the creative energy of music. As most of you know Trina is a musician and lives in Brooklyn. She has done well for herself as a musician and continues to expand her professional career through teaching music and a variety of performances, individually and through her band Karavika (www.karavika.com). Arun is a Technical Operations Manager at QualityHealth, an online service for health related questions and queries and is doing well. But his heart is in music. Arun, an accomplished violinist specializing in Karnatic, South Indian Classical music, has made a name for himself in the New York area by promoting and exposing New Yorkers to this genre of music.
When I left the States for Belize in March 2011, I had planned not to go back to the States for the 27 months that I am supposed to be here in Belize. Instead I wanted people to come visit me from the States. Things didn’t quite work out as I had planned. I ended up going to the States twice in the first year: once in October 2011 for the engagement party and then in July for the wedding. While both the trips were short and hectic they were exciting and fun.
The engagement party was primarily for family and a few friends to musically celebrate the engagement of Trina and Arun, which had already taken place about a month prior, at a sea side resort in Newport, Rhode Island. It was a weekend getaway, carefully planned by Arun but the purpose of the trip was a complete secret to Trina. Arun popped the proverbial question at the Brenton Point beach with beautiful golden light as the sun was beginning to set and I assume Trina said yes. So a simple weekend gateway turned into a romantic getaway. Still remember getting the call from Trina that night all excited and talking about her beautiful ring. The follow up party was held at the home of Arun’s parents in Marlborough, New Jersey on October 15th and it was a huge success. The dinner was delicious; the Ramamurthys had arranged for a dosa maker to come to the house and make dosas to order and had a whole array of South Indian delicacies. Dosas are a kind of South Indian crepe with or without spicy potato fillings served with coconut chutney and sambar, a special lentil soup. After dinner, a few announcements and a couple of congratulatory speeches the music started. Trina and Arun both have a group of friends who are extremely talented and very accomplished musicians in New York. As the night grew, the music became more and more spirited and it was such a wonderful way to celebrate the engagement of two musicians.
About ten months of nonstop planning, frantic shopping, anxiety filled days finally paid off and everything came together like a charm on a Sunday July 7th 2012. Thanks to Trina and the Ramamurthy family who made sure that everything was thought of, all the details were attended to and kept track of everything on excel spreadsheets. The family members started to arrive during the week preceding the wedding, which was filled with a variety of chores for everyone, a number of preneptual ceremonies, more shopping, and opportunities for us to get to know Arun’s family, who came from all over the country and some from India and probably outnumbered our family by at least 20 to 1. These wedding days were just as perfect as they could be, despite the record heat during that week. Divine music and the warmth of all those gathered for the occasion made it such a rich and memorable event that not only was something special for Trina and Arun but for all who were present to witness and share the joy.
The wedding was conducted in the Vedic tradition by Dr. Srivanisan, an Indian priest from Connecticut. Dr. Srinivasan was great and made the whole, otherwise long boring, ritual very fun, participatory and meaningful. He was definitely well experienced to perform such weddings before a culturally mixed group as he made sure that all the steps were kept simple and explained the significance of each step to the audience. There were beautiful musical interludes in flutes, cellos and drums during the whole ceremony giving that extra touch and creating that “wow” factor to the whole event. The ceremony was capped off with an elaborate Indian buffet lunch.
No sooner the lunch over, it was time to get ready for the reception. The evening reception started with more enchanting music by the musician friends of Trina and Arun, delicious hors d’oeuvre and an open bar. Everyone was elegantly dressed. It was time to see and catch up with family members and some of the old friends and discover those surprise connections, common friends between the two families unbeknownst to anyone. There were a number of speeches, some shorter, some longer, some trying to be funny like me and some were really funny like the one by Arun’s brothers who did it as a tag team. Following dinner and more drinks there was a huge surprise. After Arun gave a thank you speech, Trina and Arun pulled their violins from under their table and stated playing their adaptation of Ravi Shankar’s melody from Satyajit Roy’s movie Panther Panchali (a diary of the road). There was a standing ovation following that spellbound performance, a unique experience at a wedding.
For some the real party was about to start. The DJ with his double bass voice and the latest Bollywood stuff kept the placed energized and everyone moving. At some point all two hundred and eighty some guests were on the dance floor, not quite sure doing what, but they were there. As it was getting late and the party louder, some of the older folks started quietly slipping out. The party went on till very late and I am told at some point the hotel security had to intervene and no one remembers what happened.
It was a magnificent day and everything went without a hitch. I think all the good music, positive energy and genuine goodwill set the tone for how Trina and Arun's relationship will blossom. As a parent, what more can I ask for other than the happiness of Trina and Arun together? May god bless them and give them the love to help them grow together.
Wedding photography credit: Binaryflips Photography