Our Yogic Wedding in South India
We checked into the ashram and were making the trek to our room that would become our home for the next two weeks. The grounds were colorfully laced with tropical and exotic plants.
Sweet scents of plumeria and jasmine lingered around us like a sweet cloud of invisible fragrance. We looked at each other and smiled. We were getting married at the Isha Yoga Center.
My dear friend picked us up from the Coimbatore airport a couple hours prior and the drive was the final stretch of a long journey from Texas. It was time to relax.
With a failed nap and jet-lag setting in, we knew the next few days would be tough. After a bucket bath and a change of clothes, my mind was on one thing; I wanted to see the Devi.
Linga Bhairavi Temple
We kicked off our shoes at the edge of the temple complex and filed our way towards the Linga Bhairavi temple. After washing our feet outside the entrance, I walked towards the massive stone threshold that I had waited over two years to cross. For a moment, I nearly forgot the world around me.
Approaching the entrance with my hands together I could hear Sadhguru’s voice on audio, singing and chanting to the Devi. “Jai Bhairavi Devi, Gurubyo Namah Sri. Jai Bhairavi Devi, Swayambo Namah Sri.”
Making eye contact, I walked the path towards her, stopping part-way to the perform the asana. Her diamond eyes glistened from the reflection of the fire around her. Flamed lamps fueled with ghee.
I waved my hands through the camphor fire held out to me by the Linga Bhairavini, wafted it over the crown of my head and took a seat on the stone steps. Crossing my left foot over my right and my hands resting palms-up on my knees, I just sat.
My eyes started to well and before 5 minutes had passed, tears rolled down my face. I had heard about this happening here and it wasn’t the first time I had experienced something rise inside me in a high-energy space. It felt good. In the days ahead, Molly and I would be married in this temple and I couldn’t wait.
Our Wedding Day
Scheduling the wedding towards the end of our trip gave us plenty of time to be jet-lagged, get sick, and even do some exploring around South India. The morning of the ceremony had finally arrived and we were ready to start our journey as husband and wife.
We had three rituals scheduled and Molly was getting dolled up in her sari. Fiery red. On schedule and ready, we made the walk to the temple complex. No limousine. No carriage.
The best man and maid of honor (insert link) were there waiting. We checked in at the temple office and went back outside to wait. I looked around with surreal eyes. The Velliangiri Mountains surrounded us with cirrus sheets of clouds draped over its peaks. Its energy flowing through mountainous veins to the seekers at its foothills.
Our necks were adorned in white and red flowers made into malas, and the sweet scent of sampangi was now with us. It was time.
Our wedding was made up of three yogic rituals, each assisting the couple in various aspects of their marriage, relationship, and personal wellbeing.
Vilakku Seva – An offering of 111 ghee lamps dressed with turmeric and kumkum. Offered for assistance in overall wellbeing, prosperity and success for the entire family.
Striking match after match, Molly and I began reducing the ghee lamps as part of our offering. When none were left to light, they were to be hung on the stone wall and given to the Linga Bhairavi.
The Linga Bhairavini appeared with a wobbly step-stool and motioned for me to climb up. I’ve seen sturdier stools, I thought to myself. Molly was to pass me the lit oil lamps and I was to gently place them in between 111 pairs of dainty copper pins protruding from the stone wall.
I stood carefully as the lit lamps were passed to me. Working hard to keep them level, all I could imagine was dropping one. Spilling hot oil onto my skin, slipping and crashing into the wall, knocking each one down like a long line of dominoes. Just focus, I thought.
Suddenly I became shaky and felt as if I really was going to let one slip. Thinking too much about it, I panicked and accidentally tilted one over as Molly handed it to me. As if time had instantly slowed to a crawl, I watched hot oil spill onto her face. She gasped in pain, followed by mortifying embarrassment. I instantly looked at the Bhairavini as if she might somehow be able to undo the horrible scene. Everyone in the temple stared at me with laser-like eyes. “How could you?” They all thought. These were my nervous thoughts, anyway.
I somehow managed to get through the placing of all the lamps without a single spill. I stepped down from the wobbly stool and admired our work. We came half-way around the world for this moment and were living our dream.
Daha Nivaranam – An offering of consecrated water to the sacred banyon tree inside the Linga Bhairavii temple. Designed to quench any intense desire for both men and women. Only two people get the privilege of offering the jala (water) on a single day.
We left the temple and made our way to the consecrated pond, just outside the Dhyanalinga entrance. With the best man and maid of honor in tow, we dipped our copper wedding pot into the water and filled it up. Snakes were peacefully sun-bathing on lily pads, surrounded by pink and white lotus blooms floating on the still glass-like surface. This place is magical, I thought.
After returning to the Devi temple, Molly and I took the pot in our hands and slowly poured the jala into the soil at the base of the banyon tree. Life, giving life.
Sarpa Seva – An offering made to the intertwined Divine Sarpas at Devi’s abode, by any two individuals who share a bond. Designed to bring significant transformation in their relationship, aids in building a strong constitution, and helps to ward off marital obstacles, major hurdles, lack of prosperity or progress, and chronic ailments.
We sat cross-legged in front of the hunk of black stone, known as the Devine Sarpas. Taking a turmeric paste in our hands, we rubbed a coating of the yellow mixture into the embracing snakes in love.
We packed the carved serpents flush with kumkum and chanted along. “Naga Naga Nagendraya, Naga Naga Nagendraya…”
Our yogic wedding was over and we were floating with energy. Following the Indian custom, I treated everyone to a post-ceremonial meal. We sat at the cafe outside the ashram and feasted on dosas and fresh fruit. We smiled incessantly and enjoyed the moment. Four loving friends, breaking bread at the foothills of the western ghats.
Leaving a Piece Behind
We rolled our luggage towards the far entrance of the ashram. Light rain began to fall, as if to let us know it was time to go. We had enjoyed warm and sunny weather for two weeks and the clouds were sending us off with a drizzly goodbye. Our malas were around our necks and the sweet scent of sampangi was with us, again.
We came to a Shiva statue and offered our wedding flowers to the Adiyogi. After all, we had him to thank for sharing yoga with the world. For paving the way for this magical place to exist. For blessing people with a means of turning inward and becoming what we all long to be. Boundless.