MUMBAI: Amy Pearce blushed into her pallu as Rohini Kumar, parikarmi (master of ceremonies), chanted a Sanskrit mantra and then translated it into English: “This means you will have to take good care of all your cows.’’ He then added helpfully: “Hope you have many cows in your backyard.’’
Pearce sat cross-legged besides her 6-foot, 4-inch bridegroom, Mark Terza, a physiotherapist-turned-yoga fanatic, blinking as the thick havan smoke enveloped the hall. But they weren’t the only Americans getting hitched in desi style in Mumbai. Beside them sat yet another couple—New York-based builder T J Macchiaroli and Melinda Pizzano, who runs a flourishing upcountry spa in Putnam County in New York.
The couples garlanded each other amidst Vedic chants at the Radha Gopinath Temple at Chowpatty on Monday morning. The guests of honour were 14 other yoga enthusiasts, also from the US of A, brought to India on a whirlwind 13-day spiritual tour by group leader Reghunath. “This is a historic first for Mumbai. Although we’ve had many such Vedic weddings for Indian couples in the past, this is the first time two American couples have decided to take the plunge into Indian culture together. And it all began after they started doing yoga,’’ Radha Gopinath Temple founder Radhanath Swami said.
Pearce and Terza had decided to get married in India after they met two years ago. And, while doing that, they affirmed that yoga was the “organic thread’’ that united them. “She was my yoga guru and I fell in love with my guru. I hope that is okay,’’ Terza, now a partner in his wife’s yoga school in New York, said laughingly.
They aren’t the flower children of the 1970s or the 1980s. “We don’t do drugs, we don’t drink and we don’t touch alcohol. Neither are we into Floyd or Dylan. We, follow, instead, the scientific principle of living that is mentioned in Patanjali’s Yogasutra,’’ guru Pearce explained. Macchiaroli and Melinda, on the other hand, knew each other from school but “both of us went our separate ways till I came back to learn yoga from her’’ says the bridegroom.
Swami even made a small speech at the wedding, explaining that even Mahatma Gandhi had problems in his marriage. “But everything great does not come easy. You can easily have a one-night stand. But if a marriage has to survive, it needs to be based on a higher principle,’’ he said.
Yoga, according to him, unites people’s souls. “The Americans are now slowly moving towards the next step, that is understanding Indian spirituality and culture through yoga,’’ he said.
The group travelled to pilgrimage destinations like Haridwar, Devaprayag and Vrindavan, took a holy dip in the Ganga and even interacted with “spiritual masters’’ in the Himalayas for this initiation. “The greatest experience I had in my life was at Devaprayag, where we prayed into the twilight chanting Hare Krishna. I understood then what yoga really meant—the union of myself with the cosmic soul,’’ Ameliese Savchak, an HR manager with Pepsico and a yoga practitioner for the last three years, said.