A Hindu wedding for a US lawmaker

CCUnL9vVEAEyW_9WASHINGTON: Call it a simple and svelte Pacific Hindu Wedding. In an event unique in the history of US’ politics and that of Hawaii, the country’s 50th state, a lawmaker from the famed island was married in a Hindu ceremony on Thursday, with the chanting of Vedic mantras and the dappling backwaters of the Pacific bouncing off lush green mountains in the backdrop.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s Hindu background is no secret. Born in American Samoa in 1981 to Carol and Mike Gabbard, she was the fourth of five children, all brought up in the Brahma Madhwa Gaudiya Sampradaya that her mother embraced following her introduction to the Krishna movement in the US. She named her five children Bhakti, Jai, Aryan, Tulsi, and Vrindavan.

On Thursday, the ceremony was masterminded by Vrindavan, the youngest sibling who is also a US Marshall, and who takes her name from the eponymous holy Indian city (which Tulsi visited only recently on her first trip to India).

In a sylvan, secluded spot on the eastern shore of Oahu, at a historic site that native Hawaiian people used as a fish pond, Tulsi, 33, and her fiance Abraham Williams, 26, a cinematographer she met on the campaign trail, were married by a Hindu priest. Tulsi wore an exquisite indigo coloured gown and the groom, an elegant white suit.

The ceremony, according to those who attended it, concluded with a traditional yoga kirtan with friends and family celebrating the newly married couple with Hawaiian song and dance, followed by a vegetarian meal (both the bride and groom are vegetarians). The event was attended by the couple’s closest friends and a smattering of lawmakers, including both Democratic and Republican leadership in Congress. No presidential heavyweights were in attendance.

Considering her close ties to India, both spiritual and political, it was no surprise that there was significant Indian representation. Guests included BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who flew in from India with a special message and gift from PM Narendra Modi, and India’s acting ambassador and charge d’affairs in Washington, Taranjit Sandhu.

Although the number of Hindus living in Hawaii is relatively small, with only two Hindu temples in the entire state, Gabbard has been vocal and transparent about her faith. She took oath in Congress on the Bhagavad Gita, and presented the same copy to PM Modi when she called on him in New York.

It was the same copy she also carried with her during her two combat duty war deployments to the Middle East.

(Photos courtesy Tulsi Gabbard Facebook page)

Source: The Times of India