Images by Bharat Mudgal
The thoughts and intentions that you hold at the start of a journey, defines the journey.
“I believe in simple living. Wanting more and wanting to ‘show’ that we have so much, this materialistic greed has taken away from the beauty of simple living. Everything in nature is simple yet exotic. No two things are the same. Moving away from our roots has caused the Earth and her ecosystem great damage. I believe that the awareness that you are trying to build through your platforms is the need of the hour and more importantly, it’s in line with what I resonate with.” Kiran.
Staying strong to her convictions, departing from expectation, tradition and culture, took great courage for Kiran and Nara when it came to planning their wedding. Traditional Indian weddings can wasteful, especially in India. Guest lists of 2000+ people is a normal thing. People take loans that take a lifetime to repay just for a wedding.
Being eco-ethical is a way of life for Kiran, and the thought of a wedding event with 5000 guests – the cost, the waste, the spectacle – was too much. Kiran embarked on a radical change of plan, which was nothing short of a herculean task, taking great energy and stubbornness.
“We shot down all ideas and decided to do it our way,” said Kiran.
There was some confusion and even resistance from family at the radical departure from traditions at first, but it was Kiran’s grandfather who supported her courage.
“My grandfather was the one that said for every person you ask, you have one more opinion to deal with. Just go ahead and do what you want to. People who wish to be part of it, will be there no matter what.’ This made me make up my mind and there was no looking back after that,” she explained.
The first departure to tradition was location. Rishikesh, Uthrakand, India is at the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s considered the land of the Rishis or ascetics and it’s a very sacred space in India. It’s got deep energy, timeless culture/practices, breathtaking scenery of mountains, jungles and an endlessly flowing river Ganga.
Most of Kiran and Nara’s guests were from outside of the country and the ones from India did not consider Rishikesh as a town for young people. Kiran and Nara however, wanted to pamper them with a relaxed trip and give them a true experience of India. They each had 45 guests – a number that is unheard of for Indian weddings – and it had a magical effect. There wasn’t a single person who went back without experiencing a shift.
“Because it was so fuss free, everybody just had time to be with each other, enjoy the mountains, the river, the tusker that showed up from the jungle across the river. We got to experience the beauty and love of such a special place. And that was our hope for our loved ones” said Kiran.
In Hindu weddings the rituals are done to create strong vibrations and set the right intentions for two people to embark on a very challenging journey that has the potential to become very rewarding.
“Our priest gave us the most practical advice on how we should conduct ourselves with each other, our extended families and our guests. It was so beautiful, wise and true. It was all about being thoughtful, respectful and kind at all times. I guess our ancestors knew that we needed all the good vibes to help us with it!”
Some of the fundamental principles Kiran followed in organizing the wedding included:
1. No disposables for the entire weekend.
2. Food was almost entirely plant based.
3. The wedding favours were useful and wrapped in beautiful cloth pouches that could be used by guests.
4. They asked for NO wedding gifts. Those who really wanted to give the couple something were asked to write them letters that they read on our 2 month long unplanned trip across the country. Some of them still sent cash but there were no physical gifts at all.
5. All clothes were vegan. It was a no silk wedding. Silk is very big in many parts of India and it’s a strong tradition. This was unheard of in their circle. All sarees, men’s wear, footwear, everything was cruelty free. Kiran and Nara only bought what was needed.
6. Many of their outfits were upcycled (immediate family and the couple).This enabled Kiran and Nara to support local tailors within the community instead of big brands. The silk border on Nara’s wedding outfit was taken from a skirt that Kiran’s grandparents bought her when she was 10 years old.
7. The wedding venue was paid by donation. Kiran and Nara made a donation to the Ashram that gave the space to carry out our rituals. The ashram feeds thousands of people and animals, with food and water, for free, twice a day. They also teach yoga, do outreach programs in rural areas, clean up the river, preserve/promote the indigenous culture and impart Vedic education.
8. They sent e-invites which is very uncommon, in fact, some even thought it disrespectful.
When the wedding day finally arrived, after all the strength it took to stay true and strong to their vision, Kiran and Nara were fully immersed in the experience.
“Given how much time we spent organising and delegating, the moment the ceremonies started, I just turned off my brain and sank right into it. When it unfolded, it was more than anything that I could have ever imagined for myself. It was filled with beautiful mixed emotions. The wedding was a celebration of our journey and the compatibility that we earned,” said Kiran.
Kiran even felt a very deep sense of peace, knowing her father, who had passed over a year and half before she had even met Nara, was there. He had told her before his passing of his vision of the day, knowing he wouldn’t be there.
“On the day of the wedding, I knew he was there 100% in spirit. There was zero sense of missing, I just felt incredibly close to him. That was intimate and super special” said Kiran.
For Kiran and Nara, getting married wasn’t essential, love was more important, but even they have to admit, the wedding was one of the best experiences of their lives. They were teary eyed for 3 hours straight!
“We’re in our 5th year as a couple. The biggest success in our story is that we didn’t have an image of what life should be like and find someone to fulfill that plan. We are growing in love every single day. And as we grow we seem to get a deeper understanding of what love really is. Through many ups, downs, laughter and challenges, what holds us together is the life that we want to build with each other and this definition of love continuously keeps expanding. There is still no definite image of the future. All we see is an exciting adventure. We co-write our story frequently.”
As you live and love, so too, according to Kiran, you can plan a wedding by following your heart.
“As my spiritual teacher always says ‘the thoughts and intentions that you hold at the start of a journey, defines the journey’. So my only advice would be to stay true to who you are, keep it real and relevant. Don’t be afraid to follow your heart. When you decide, everything falls in place. And while you make your choices it would be most responsible to consider the environment even if it is only for a day”.
Thank-you so much for sharing your story Kiran.
More of Nara and Kiran’s day here;