Sunday, September 1, 2013

Book Recommendation: Shaadi Remix by Geetha Ravindra

My good friend and mediation colleague, Geetha Ravindra, has published a new book focused on Indian marriage in the modern world:  Shaadi Remix – Transforming the Traditional Indian Marriage (Wheatmark, Tuscon, AZ: 2013).

I am reproducing her promotional description of the book.  

Marriage is one of the most sacred institutions in India. Traditionally, parents and other family members have arranged marriages for their children based on caste, matching horoscopes, family status, or dowry. Over the past few decades, however, divorce rates have grown significantly. It would seem that the old way of doing things is no longer working—but why?

Drawing on her experience with hundreds of families struggling with marital discord, attorney and mediator Geetha Ravindra explores the breakdown of Indian marriage within a rapidly changing culture, explaining why the conventional criteria used to arrange marriages no longer ensure lasting, healthy relationships. 

With stories of how real Indian couples navigate a twenty-first-century world, Shaadi Remix: Transforming the Traditional Indian Marriage, provides guidance on alternative methods of choosing partners, as well as tips on effectively communicating and resolving conflict in marriage.

Shaadi Remix is a must-read for Indian parents, Indian youth contemplating marriage, and anyone who is interested in understanding the Indian marriage system. 

Geetha offers readers a unique approach to the traditional Indian union—one that blends the important values of the Vedic marriage with contemporary and practical considerations.

Geetha is Past President of the Virginia Mediation Network and the Mediator for the International Monetary Fund. She is the Chair-Elect of the American Bar Association’s Section of Dispute Resolution, the Chair of the Joint Alternative Resolution Committee for Virginia, and the former Director of Dispute Resolution Services at the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Geetha will have a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Short Pump, Virginia on September 21st from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. 

Shaadi Remix will be available for purchase and also is available on  


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  2. Fertility Rituals

    Marriage is one of the biggest fertility rituals Known in Indian culture. When two people get married. they are said to enter grihasta ashram where they are expected to bear children. satify their sexual urge, earn money and follow religious practices. Hindu marriages profess the idea of coming together of the energies and paving way to a new creation.

    Offering of Grains

    Throughout India, one thing that remains common to all communities is offring of grains in wedding ceremony. Mostly rice, puffed rice or whole grains, these grains are fed to the sacred fire in different ceremonies.

    Importance of Shiva's Bael leaves

    Holy Bael leaves are proffered in several ceremonies before the wedding and after it. In many communities in india, before the wedding day arrives, Bael leaves are placed in earthen pots which are topped with different kinds of cereals. After the wedding, the sprouted seedlings are then released in a flowing river or a pool. This ritual is performed to invoke blessings of Lord Shiva upon the married couple and pray for their progeny.

    Vishnu's pious Lotus

    As per mythology, at the time of creation of the universe, while lord Vishnu was pondering over the creation of mankind, a pious lotus rose out of his navel. On that lotus was seated Lord Brahma who paved way to the creation and illumination of the universe. Thus, lotus remains symbolic of procreation, birth and fertility. It is Therefore, offered during wedding puja to the gods to confer potency upon the couple. Also, At the time of a Hindu wedding, the bride and the groom are given the stature of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu because they represent the eternal companionship and exemplify how a relationship between husband and wife should be.

    Nose ring

    Usually seen as a piece of accessory, almost all brides sport nose ring on their wedding day. In some communities, girls are told to get their nose pierced before they tie the knot.

    Sacred coconut rituals

    Across India, since time immemorial coconut has enjoyed its association with human fertility in a sacrosanct manner. In Gujarat, there is a ritual of bride presenting a coconut in a customary way to the groom at the time of the marriage. Here coconut is symbolic of the progency of the couple that the bridegifts the groom. Of all the fruits, coconut is most closely related to human skull because of the three marking on its base that resemble human facial features.

    The mantras of virility

    During saat pheras in a Hindu marriage, there are several mantras that are chanted for progency of the couple. While the first phera is for a long lasting companionship, in the second Phera, "Kutumburn rakshayishyammi sa aravindharam", the bride promises the groom that she will fill his with love and will bear children of him.

    The History

    There was a time when potency was considered as the be all and all of all activities. The earliest ritual of fertility among Hindus can be dated back to the Harappan civilization where it has been discovered that people worshipped clay figurines of a mother goddess who represented fertility. Several phallic symbols representing gods in sitting position wearing bull's horns (Bull being a universal symbol of male potency) have also been found at the sites of indus Valley Civilization. As the world evolved and ancient civilizations paved way to the modern societies, marriage started being considered as a mandatory ceremony before women could conceive. Also, the idea of marriage was propelled by the thought of having the family legacy move ahead; so that families could get heirs.