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First for UK Indians: Hindu woman marries Jewish woman

During the ceremony in Leicester over the weekend, the brides wore traditional red and white bridal colours, fresh floral garlands and a ‘mangal sutra’.

world Updated: Aug 17, 2017 18:35 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Gay wedding,Interfaith gay wedding,Lesbian wedding
Kalavati Mistry and Miriam Jefferson met more than 20 years ago on a training course in the US, and tied the knot last week.(Youtube screengrab)

It is not the first since gay marriage was legalised in England in March 2014, but Kalavati Mistry marrying her Jewish partner Miriam Jefferson in a Hindu ceremony in Leicester is considered a first for the 1.5 million-strong Indian community here.

Initially, Mistry, 48, could not find a Hindu priest to perform the ceremony, but eventually female priest Chanda Vyas agreed. The ceremony over the weekend, with the two partners in bridal attire, was held in a restaurant, complete with ‘mangal sutra’ and other rites.

Vyas told Leicester-based news agency Pukaar News, which first reported the marriage: “Kalavati and Miriam were so happy and I was honoured to be a part of it and to be able to help make Kalavati’s Hindu wedding dream a reality.”

Mistry and Jefferson reportedly met more than 20 years ago during a training course in America, but Mistry had kept her sexuality a secret for years, since it was “very difficult for me as an Asian gay woman”.

But Mistry’s friends and family have been “welcoming and embracing” to Jefferson since she revealed their relationship. According to Jefferson, they had a Jewish wedding in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas, earlier this year.

The couple moved to the US after the ceremony. Mistry said before leaving: “I think I will follow the Hindu faith and I will follow some of the Jewish traditions and I would like to celebrate both and embrace both Hinduism as well as Judaism.”

Jefferson said the day was wonderful: “I got to spend an entire day with somebody I adore and love and want to spend my life with, surrounded by people who I have been close to my entire life and people who have recently embraced me as one of their own, so it’s a pretty wonderful way to celebrate.”

Earlier, Mistry described the difficulties she faced: “It was initially very difficult for me as an Asian gay woman. I knew during my teenage years that I was gay. It was very difficult, trying to tell your friends and family and honour the traditions.

“I met Miriam when I was 26. Once I told my friends and family, they were very, very warm, welcoming and embracing to her. Marriage is very important to me. Although attitudes are changing at the moment, it was very difficult to find a priest.”

First Published: Aug 17, 2017 14:41 IST