Tri and I are not religious people, so when it came to finding a Hindu priest for our wedding, we asked around our communities to see if anyone knew of a good officiant. We didn’t want someone who was going to make the ceremony too serious or too long. We also obviously wanted someone who was willing and happy to officiate an interracial/intercultural marriage.
Some of our family friends in Washington D.C. happened to know a fantastic Hindu priest who often officiates weddings in the Nepali communities up and down the East Coast. When we were down in D.C. last summer, we got the chance to meet him, and we immediately felt put at ease.
He spoke both Nepali and English, he had lived in the US for many years, and he was totally fine with officiating an intercultural wedding. Score! He was also willing to accommodate our wish for a “short” (read 1 1/2 hour long) ceremony.
On the day of the wedding our lovely priest showed up with all of the goodies needed for the puja. He kept trying to get us to do a rehearsal before the guests started to arrive, but because our photographs took longer than expected, we didn’t do the rehearsal until about 15 minutes before our ceremony was supposed to start. ha! But our priest was totally chill about it. Tri and I were both on cloud nine that day, and we really weren’t worried about timing. It was great to have an officiant who was on the same wavelength.
Once the ceremony started, he did an absolutely fantastic job. Although he said all of the prayers in Sanskrit, he translated the ceremony into English so that all of our guests could enjoy it. He was also incredibly kind to my family. He incorporated my parents, brothers, and grandpa into the ceremony and gave tikka to all of the guests who wanted it.
Our priest also had a great sense of humor. I thought that the ceremony would be quite serious, but I was laughing for most of it 🙂 There are several games that the bride, groom, and siblings/friends of the couple play during the wedding ceremony. Rather than just going through the motions, he really got everyone invested in the games.
I’ve been to a number of religious event in my life, whether they be Nepali, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or Jewish, and I’ve rarely had fun. They’re often quite serious. This was probably the first religious function in my life that had me enjoying myself. I don’t know why my expectations were so low, but I was totally not expecting to enjoy the ceremony part of my wedding. Luckily, I think that we were able to please both families and have fun while doing it.
If anybody needs the name of a great Nepali Hindu priest on the East Coast, you can comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I swear he didn’t pay me to write this post! 🙂