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Crossing paths

The story of a Hindu temple mahant in Gujarat performing the nikah of his Muslim adopted daughter was heart-warming, writes Maxwell Pereira.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 00:33 IST

The story of a Hindu temple mahant in Gujarat performing the nikah of his Muslim adopted daughter was heart-warming. Even more significant was the request made by his daughter’s father-in-law to find suitable grooms for his own three daughters — eminently endorsing the fact that despite all efforts of fundamentalists and politicians to drive a wedge between communities, we Indians are secular at heart. Reading this news item, I couldn’t but help remember a similar experience.

When the French concert pianist Ariane, followed her Indian boyfriend, Vijay, to this country in 2005, I had quipped, “I hope you’re here to tie the knot!” I had earlier met my friend Vijay years ago in Paris, and knew that Ariane and he were going steady. Ariane confided that she was indeed in India to be married to Vijay, and hoped that I would support her ‘adventure’.

Ariane joined our choral group, ‘The Capital City Minstrels’, as a guest artist. She also kept asking me about local regulations, church rules, etc. But it was not until late 2006 that she actually announced the wedding date, requesting the ‘Capital City Minstrels’ to perform at the ceremony.

Ariane selected the music —  some Bach, some Gregorian chants, not the usual wedding fare. I took it for granted that it was to be a church wedding. But it turned out that the couple wanted a ‘Hindu’ wedding ceremony at the Jagannath temple in Delhi’s Green Park. We were in a fix. Catholic music at a Hindu temple?

But things had already been sorted out between the couple and the temple management. So, on the big day, there we were, a motley bunch of choirists that included two clergymen besides myself and four other Catholics, along with some Hindus  singing Ave Maria, Shree Ganeshaya Namah and the Vivaha Manthrartha all tuned in together. There was pin-drop silence during the congregation. It was gratifying that at the end of the ceremony, the chief pandit came up to me wanting to know the exact words and meaning of the Christian hymns we sang.

Maxwell Pereira is former Chief, Delhi Traffic Police