Janhavi Samant & Shan Mohammad
The couple wed in 2006, have two children, and still can’t agree on how they ended up with three ceremonies when they’d planned on having only one
Shan Mohammad: I was against any religious ceremony and I don’t like the loudness of a typical Indian wedding. I thought we’d register and move on with life. How did we have three shaadis?
Janhavi Samant: I’ll tell the story. My mum was pressuring Shan to get married. My dad had passed away recently and she believed that a wedding, if any, should happen within a year.
SM: Her mum knew I was hesitant!
JS: Because you were really putting it off. She wanted the Special Marriage Act for us as she did not trust Muslim law’s fairness to women.
SM: There’d be a reception eventually.
JS: My in-laws believed they had a social duty to hold one. I wanted a Marathi wedding – but only because I wanted to dress up. But then, for the court wedding, one cousin decided to come along. Mum said she’d come too. Shan’s parents said they’d travel from Bhilai for it. All these relatives and friends started saying “We’re also coming”, and suddenly 20 people were coming to “see us” getting married in court. My sister made me buy a sari. My aunt organised lunch at her place. Without any of us realising, it had become a celebration.
SM: Then my mother came into the picture.
JS: She took me aside and said “You’re getting the celebration you want, but I have one son. He won’t want a religious ceremony, could you convince him?”
SM: So, now there was a nikaah in Kerala where my family is.
JS: Which was planned according to a Hindu mahurat. My motherin-law said, “Tum log kuch achcha mahurat dekh lo”. And 20 Samants booked train tickets to Cochin.
SM: We knew they had never been to Kerala.
JS: Shan’s mother was keen to show her family's support. They planned a city tour, put us up at a nice hotel. We didn’t hire a mehendiwali. So two of Shan’s sisters did it; one hand looked different from the other. It was wonderful how they accepted me. For the Marathi wedding, my family tried to make them comfortable too. The most unconventional thing we did was to have my mother, a widow, give me away.
SM: After all these years the best memory was the feeling of surprise. I’m the kind of guy who goes to weddings for the food. So, being on the other side and feeling happy was surprising!
JS: You were probably smiling out of embarrassment! My favourite memory is from the civil ceremony. After we’d registered, they made us sit on these throne-like chairs and Shan’s father came and gave him a big, tight hug. That was very emotional – I missed my own father. I enjoyed my wedding. Not too many Indian brides can say that.
The most unconventional thing we did was to have my mother, a widow, give me away