Friday, 8 May 2015

Reception reflections

Weddings in our dear land of Bharat are huge.   No matter what language, caste or creed - the marriage is always going to be a show-stopper.

So when it came to our dear friend and co-worker Mahesh Kamble getting married to Bhavani on April 24, we were of course very happy.  But sad because the marriage was in Chhatisgarh - and that too during our JSK annual staff retreat!  Last year Daniel and Yerusha got married just after the retreat - and just next door - so all of us were able to be there for the ceremony.  This year none of us could take the trek up to Chattisghar to be part of the Mahesh and Bhavani nuptials.

So they conveniently came here!  The wedding invitation said that a reception would be held on May 6th in Thane.  That seemed unbelievably far in the future... and then it happened yesterday.

Always beware of event programmes that come without names linked with programme items.  I looked at Anil Edwards who was sitting next to us and told him that we need to be ready for anything.  And sure enough, as we got past the first two songs of praise, it was announced that I was to do the Bible reading.  Up I went to the stage to read the memorable Psalm 45 - but wished I had had some advance notice as my Bible was chock ablock with papers from our JSK staff retreat.  At least I found the passage soon and launched into the wonderful words - what an honour!

When I got back I noticed that Anil is far more modern than I - he has his Good Book on his mobile - and used the  programme sheet to take notes.

And there was plenty to write down.  Dr. Stephen Alfred spoke on the excellence of marriage - and the great joys and challenges our lives together are.  And how much a mystery each marriage is.  He suggested that marriages that are centred around Christ - as Mahesh and Bhavani's is - as being a special opportunity to see the very nature of God being played out in our lives.

Stirring stuff.  Made me so glad again to be married to my amazing Sheba.  She has had to put up with so much over the years - and we still have much to learn in caring for each other - but I am just so grateful for these 15 plus years together.

It was of course a bit surreal to be sitting in the crowd and seeing our dear Mahesh on his throne along with his new bride Bhavani.

There are times you pinch yourself... is this really happening.  Is my life actually unfolding this way. 

As I looked around I was struck just by how happy everyone was - and the wide range of different people from across Mumbai and Thane who had come to be with the couple.

It was a privilege to meet Mahesh's family - who came up from Miraj (the town where Dad was born at Wanless Hospital) as well as the elder who had nurtured Mahesh when he made his first steps of faith.

Then there were the folks from the church in Parel which was Mahesh's next spiritual home. 

And finally the broad spectrum of Thane people - church members, JSK staff, various friends.  I was touched to see a number of the precious people that Mahesh works with through JSK were also present.

After the programme,  it was time to 'meet the couple.'  This is a formalised trooping up to the stage, family by family - and spending a few moments congratulating the couple - and then having your photo taken with them.  By the end the bride and grooms cheeks are aching from all the smiling done!

Yes, our family is growing bigger - but no - we don't have 4 sons (yet at least!).  We were joined on the platform by Abishek Sainani (him who at least yesterday was balder than me) and Akshay, who is spending part of his summer holiday with Abishek's mummy and daddy. 

And then there was the feast!  No meeting with out eating!  As we dug into delicious rice and chicken curry and met old friends and made new ones...  The joy of being together.  Here part of the JSK gang gathered round a table and tucked in.

When around 10 PM Asha finally managed to extract her parents from all the meeting and greeting (and Enoch had ate least 2 servings of icecream - reminding me of two boys about 35 years ago) - we passed through the main hall - and saw that Mahesh and Bhavani were still taking photos!  Ah the irony of the Indian wedding - everyone else has a great time - but the bride and groom have to do all the work...

Hats of too Mahesh and Bhavani as they move forward into this new adventure.  I am so glad to have been walking this road together with Sheba since our magical day in Rourkela on Dec. 15 1999!

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