Avni & Fabian Schaaf-Me­hta

Two young stu­dents meet on an ex­change pro­gramme. What fol­lows is a big fat Indo-Ger­man wed­ding

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - Wedding Special -

Avni’s fam­ily had to des­ig­nate some of their friends to play Fabian’s sis­ters when he had to de­fend his shoes against one sis­ter and 17 cousins!

Much re­search was re­quired be­fore Avni and Fabian could marry. Avni, 25, a project man­ager for an in­ter­na­tional tourism con­glom­er­ate, is half Gu­jarati and half UP-ite. Fabian, an en­tre­pre­neur, is Ger­man. The two met at a class in busi­ness school in Ger­many where Avni, then 23, was on a stu­dent-ex­change pro­gramme.

When Avni’s se­mes­ter in Ger­many ended, the two de­cided to con­tinue see­ing each other – and both had but­ter­flies in their stom­achs when they told their par­ents about their de­ci­sion to marry. “It was quite stress­ful, though I have to say that a lot of my In­dian friends had it worse even though they wanted to marry fel­low In­di­ans,” says Avni.

Both sets of par­ents were per­fectly okay with the idea, ex­cept for one thing: What kind of wed­ding would an In­dian woman and Ger­man man have?

Im­me­di­ately, their fam­i­lies swung into ac­tion. While Fabian’s par­ents watched the Mira Nair film,

Mon­soon Wed­ding, to pre­pare them­selves for the In­dian wed­ding mad­ness, Avni’s fam­ily looked up Ger­man wed­ding rit­u­als to make the wed­ding a per­fectly cross-cul­tural af­fair.

As it turned out, plan­ning the Ger­man wed­ding was far from easy. Avni’s fam­ily didn’t know any­body who had a clue. “For­tu­nately we found a Ger­man priest who helped us a great deal. The re­li­gious cer­e­mony it­self is sim­i­lar to Hol­ly­wood clichés, but there are a lot of fun games in which the guests also par­tic­i­pate,” says Avni. “For ex­am­ple, the key to our wed­ding gifts was with one of the guests and we had to dance with al­most ev­ery­one to get the right one.”

The In­dian wed­ding was much eas­ier to plan – ex­cept for one lit­tle thing. Fabian’s fam­ily is not even half as big as any nor­mal In­dian fam­ily, which led to some in­ter­est­ing in­no­va­tions. “We had to des­ig­nate some of our friends to play Fabian’s sis­ters when he


The Schaaf-Me­htas share a joke and (left) a tra­di­tional Ger­man cer­e­mony where the couple cut out a heart painted on a sheet had to de­fend his shoes against my sis­ter and 17 cousins!” says Avni.

Both fam­i­lies were en­thu­si­as­tic about par­tic­i­pat­ing in all the rit­u­als for both the wed­dings. “I love In­dian wed­dings, and more than that, I love the food, so I had a blast,” says Fabian. “We also cre­ated a guide to both cer­e­monies for our fam­i­lies and friends.”

The fun of mix­ing two cul­tures has con­tin­ued even af­ter the wed­ding. “Of course there are chal­lenges, but we also learn a lot from each other,” says Avni. “It’s nice to be able to cel­e­brate two sets of fes­ti­vals. You need to be open to dif­fer­ent cus­toms. Some­times you come across cul­tural sim­i­lar­i­ties that you wouldn’t ex­pect. For ex­am­ple, Ger­mans al­ways take their shoes off be­fore en­ter­ing some­one’s house, quite like we do in In­dia.”



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