Here is a blessing in English:
May the guy live 120 years healthily and may the girl live 108 years and bear many boy kids.
Sound medieval? Ok. Let’s make it a little more flowery:
May the groom live a long and fruitful life of twenty and hundred years and may the bride live a fertile eight and hundred years while bearing many healthy and virtuous male children
Sound…um..quaint? Old-fashioned? Irrelevant but poetic? Ok. Now, translate that into Sanskrit and you have an important chant uttered at (almost) all Hindu weddings.
Now picture this. If my photoshop skills were any good, I could spare you the trouble. But spare me and let loose the photoshop of your mind: Let’s replace the typical priest and nadaswaram troupe with a band, DJ and a rapper-vocalist. The rapper ofcourse, is a certified priest as well. She (aha !) proceeds to rap the “Mangalyam..” chant in 3 different languages (for the benefit of the audience whose sanskrit knowledge is approximately zero) set to a pounding beat. The beat incidentally comprises thavils and japanese taiko drums mashed up with some serious heart pounding bass. A lilting kashmiri santoor complements the priestess’ powerful voice. She interleaves the Sanskrit chants with Rastafarian wedding vows and Shinto verses.
Is this blasphemy? Irreverent? What if the groom is racially half-Tamil half-Jamaican and the bride one quarter Japanese and three quarters Kashmiri? Not possible? Not allowed, perhaps? What they were both american citizens as well? Not likely? In another 10 years? Aha!
Anyway, getting back to the original politically incorrect but religiously sanctioned wedding chants, I did manage successfully to convince the priest at my wedding to modify that verse to this
May the bride and groom live twenty and hundred years and have healthy children.
But did he actually keep his promise? I won’t really know. Weddings are way too noisy and chaotic for the groom to pay any attention to what is happening. It’s all a jasmine filled, smoky haze. And at the end of the day, it’s just semantics. After all, no big deal about a few words written in a dead language 2000 years ago. Right? Right? People don’t fight wars about religious texts. Right?
Truth be told, I am reasonably sure his chant has no medical implications on my wife’s longevity. So I don’t really care. But hey, do read up on the english translations of Hindu wedding verses before you get married. Very interesting stuff. Think about it. There is a lot of profundity wrapped in the unfortunate male-dominated realities of the era in which it was written.