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The stage was set with draped fabric; the room filled with flower petals, laughter, and a lot of white girls wearing Indian dresses for the first time. It was also full of friends and family from all over: from LA to New York, from Toronto to London, from Pakistan to Haiti, we had all come together in this conference room turned sacred space in Montreal, to celebrate the day that Nadia had been looking forward to and rebelling against since she was five.
I met Nadia through her writing. My introduction to her wit and wisdom came from the pages of personal story that would, through our collaboration (and with many brilliant contributions) become her one-woman show, a show in which marriage is a fraught topic. The very first joke she shares in the show is about how, at age five, her parent-given purpose in life was to become a bride and mother. The topic of her real life wedding has always been a bit tongue-in-cheek. For years she’d been commanded to conform to the traditional role of a woman, and she’d pushed back. But this was a moment of her own choosing. Nothing about the ceremony was not true to who she is. It was full of exuberant joy, a sense of humor, spiritual depth, and a purposeful intention to unite cultures that historically lie in conflict to each other.
Every element of the whole weekend was intentional, from the opening ritual and the choice of officiator, to the dancing and brunch the day after. The entire experience was cultivated to bring us together.
As soon as Conrad and Nadia arrived on the stage, they took a moment to welcome us all. Then, they asked us to take a moment to welcome others: they lit three candles and invited the spirits of Nadia’s mother, Conrad’s brother, and Conrad’s grandmother –all passed– into the room. They drank sweet honey water from the same glass, they asked us all to hold hands, and they opened the room to the words of the people present. It was all an invitation for us to connect, to witness them in connecting, to strengthen our sense of community.
Irshad Manji, whose Moral Courage platform aims to reconcile faith with freedom and empower the right to ask questions without fear, officiated with grace and panache. She opened by bringing in words of wisdom from both the Christian and Muslim faiths, and throughout the ceremony, continually bridged the myriad cultural traditions in the room with humor and heart. In fact, we stole the title of the blog from her!
After the ceremony we celebrated, with dance, with feasting, with so much love. But the photos say it better than I ever could. Take a look!
The groom and his mother
The bride and her father
Sassy and Classy becoming husband and wife
Sassy and Classy leaving the ceremony
The work family (Paprika Productions) and the family family (Father and Brother) of the Bride
The bride in a dolee and the groom with a sehraa, in the midst of a traditional Desi performance
The happy couple preparing for the feast
The best dancers on the floor
Paprika Productions celebrates the first marriage of the team!
Photo Credit: Azfar Najmi and Haejin Han
This blog was written by Tara Elliott, Creative Director at Paprika Productions.