By Caru Das
Yesterday’s wedding between Mikela (Boothe) and Justin (Hanks) was the biggest we’ve ever had here in the temple. Both families have been well established in Spanish Fork for a long time. Mikela’s father (Mike) and Uncle (Steve) own Boothe’s Music Store on Main St. Justin and his mother Cary run Cary’s Florals, also on Main St.
There were 200 people, almost exclusively westerners, at the ceremony (11 am), and then a couple hundred more came by for the reception between 1 pm and 3 pm. At the beginning of the ceremony, during my introduction to the vivaha samskara (marriage ceremony), I asked for a show of hands who was coming to the temple for the first time – about 60 per cent.
For the last two weeks Justin and Mikela’s friends have been patronizing the gift store for kurtas, sarees, and salva kameez. While the older generation were in suits and ties the younger tended to wear the Indian style clothes. Mikela’s mother Louella donned a saree, in which she looked great, and enthusiastically performed her duties just as well as any Indian mother of the bride. Thus also did Mike, her father. Mike has been a bishop in the LDS Church and performed many weddings himself. I could tell during the 60 minute ceremony he took a lot of interest in the details.
Justin and Mikela themselves appeared like an Indian prince and princess. Justin ordered his kurta directly from India. I believe it cost $ 165.00. Mikela’s saree was stunning as was her jewelry (courtesy of Pragna) and elaborate henna (Priya Mahajan took five 1/2 hours to apply it last Thursday)
Cary stayed up until midnight the night before stringing flower garlands at her shop and arrived at 7 am wedding day to decorate the temple. The results were huge flower vases on the altar, at each corner of the mandap, and strings of fresh carnations and roses hung on all four sides of the mandap. The beauty and aroma were intoxicating.
The crowd was great. I was coaching them to say “Jai” (Victory) at certain points during the ceremony: for instance when Mikela selected Justin with the garland – “Jai Mala”. I did not have to ask them to practice a second time because they got it loud and clear the first time, and lustily did so whenever cued during the ceremony. They also did a resonant job saying. “Om Shanti, shantih shantih,” whenever asked. When we gave blessings to the couple, they all extended their right palms and repeated the Sanskrit right after me. “Pusti (nourishment), Tusti (satisfaction), Aisvarya (prosperity), Ayusha (long life), Shanti (peace), Vighna Nasam (overcome obstacles), Vrdha (progress) and Mangal Karma (good works).
At intervals during the ceremony, when I was chanting the Sanskrit extensively, we had live kirtan provided by Jai Krishna, Zachary, Gerald with his harp, Blake, Seema, Justin, Henriett, Alanath and Sandhya. The divine chanting wove in and out of the whole ceremony, and after the wedding was over, continued upstairs for another half hour after the guests filtered downstairs for prasadam.
Downstairs for all to partake there was yellow rice pilau with mixed vegetables and raisins, blueberry hallava, HOME MADE papadams (thanks to Nirmala Patel), peas and potatoes with cheese, mataar alou paneer, a huge ginger cream wedding cake made by Louella, mango lemon lassis, and lots of sweets. From 12:30 pm until 3 pm the Govinda’s Buffet was packed with guests enjoying the prasadam. It was a labor of love to keep the prasadam trays filled as they so quickly emptied, to keep the drinks flowing, the wedding cake cut and served, utensil trays and napkins refilled, trash bins emptied, etc.
Many, many compliments were tendered on the music, the Sanskrit, the beauty of the ceremony and its informative English explanations, the food, the architecture, flowers, and overall transcendent atmosphere of the temple.
For Vaibhavi and I this was a landmark day. Thanks to Justin and Mikela, and Cary, their connections in the community, their energy and enthusiasm to share, we tasted one very sweet fruit of 20 years habitation in Spanish Fork, the “Livestock Capital of Utah County”.
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