History was made this weekend as the city’s first gay Hindu female marriage took place. Kalavati Mistry from Leicester married Jewish-born Miriam Jefferson from Texas in a traditional Indian ceremony in the heart of city.
The event, held at Chuntey Ivy restaurant was attended by both Kalavati and Miriam’s friends and family.
The couple met over 20 years ago when Kalavati, known by friends as Kalav was in America: “I met Miriam when I was approx 26 years old. I went to America on a training course and we were doing diversity work and training and that’s where I met Miriam Jefferson.”
From a young age, the Hindu bride knew she was gay but was worried about telling her friends and family and honouring the traditions of her culture and religion. Kalav kept her sexuality a secret from her family and it was only recently that she took the plunge and came out to them. She admits their reaction to her partner has been great: “They’ve been very warm welcoming and embracing to Miriam which has been very important.”
Being bought up in a Hindu household, the 48-year-old knew she wanted to get married and have a traditional ceremony: “I really value the traditions of the culture and to me, I wanted to spend the life with someone in a union and in a bond and some of the rituals that you do in a wedding are very important to me. I wanted Miriam and I to join in that union.”
The happy couple’s wedding was performed by a Hindu priest but Kalav explains it was a struggle to find someone able to oversee the ceremony: “I tried many many priests in Leicester and many priests were warm and welcoming and said they’d like to do this but that their federation won’t allow it.”
Local Hindu female priest, Chanda Vyas carried out the ceremony and was delighted to be part of the event. “Kalavati and Miriam were so happy and I was honoured to be a part of it and to be able to help make Kalavati’s Hindu wedding dream, a reality.”
During the ceremony, the brides both wore traditional red and white bridal colours, fresh floral garlands and a ‘mangala sutra’ (a necklace traditionally tied around the bride’s neck) to show that they are now married women.
The couple also had a Jewish wedding earlier this year in San Antonio Texas, where Miriam is originally from. Now the Hindu wedding is over, the couple feel they have a stronger bond that has bought them closer together.
“I think I will follow the Hindu faith and I will follow some of the Jewish traditions and I would like to celebrate both and embrace both Hinduism as well as Judaism,’ says Kalav.
Miriam went on to describe the day as wonderful: “I got to spend an entire day with somebody I adore and love and want to spend my life with, surrounded by people who I have been close to my entire life and people who have recently embraced me as one of their own, so it’s a pretty wonderful way to celebrate.”
To see a clip of the happy couple, go to our Facebook page here