Category Archives: “Cord and Veil ceremony”

An International Love Story: Shanika and Anthony

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Just in time for the week leading up until Valentine’s

Day, Shanika and her husband are sharing their love

story. It began while they were interns at a Cleveland

hospital.

They were ‘study buddies’ and took many different late

night ‘breaks’ from the challenge of learning their

physiology, molecular biology and medical training.

They had ‘all nighters’ and clinicals to struggle

through, depending on each other, learning how to work

together as a ‘team.’

Shanika had come from Sri Lanka, while Anthony had

come from the Philippines. His background, parentage

consisted of Filipino-Chinese. Once they shared their

private conversations for a few years of being close

friends, they knew their commonality in the Roman

Catholic church and beliefs. They also knew both their

families held education and traditions as important

values.

They had good friends that also shared these close

values and philosophies. When they would gather to

celebrate good grades or a successful step in their

futures, they always produced a meal that combined

their different cultures. It sounded like a feast

to me!

When Anthony asked Shanika to marry, he had already

met her father and mother. He had travelled with her

to her ‘homeland’ and made the decision on their next

trip there to ask her father for her hand in marriage.

What a lovely tradition and this is sometimes the case

in American weddings, a focus in romantic comedies, too.

They had started to, unconsciously, show preferences

for some of their favorite foods from each of their

families’ recipes.

The couple had also begun to have premarital counseling

with their priest, who would guide them in expressing

their feelings more easily and helping to choose what

were going to be priorities in their home life and

future family. Both Shanika and Anthony agree that

they hope someday to have children.

Melding the two cultures and the varied customs,

meant so much to this couple!

When Shanika’s father ‘gave his blessing,’ they were

much relieved to be over that hurdle!

When their two best friends and marital role models

accepted the role of being their ‘sponsors,’ they were

relieved and thrilled!

International weddings are even more important to have

understanding of each other’s familial and cultural

backgrounds.

Whenever they attended a wedding together in the past

two years, they came home and started to make lists

of what they had taken part in, as guests. They would

discuss and agree which parts of the ceremony and

reception they enjoyed and meant more to them, too.

Both Shanika and Anthony are very considerate and

almost self-effacing people. If you ever met them,

you would not necessarily guess they were both

doctors!

They were told, in their premarital counseling, that

part of searching their backgrounds would help them

discover what would become part of their own personal

traditions.

While some of us may want as a future bride to have:

“Something new, something old, something borrowed,

something blue.”

One important part of the bride’s wardrobe was her

wedding dress reflected her mother’s own choice of a

white sari. This is traditional of Sri Lankan heritage.

Anthony felt an American tuxedo, like the many movie

stars and actors wear, was his desire for ‘appropriate

attire.’ He chose a black tuxedo, a white vest and tie.

They made compromises on the menu but Anthony wanted

to ensure that his family would be pleased, thus the

appetizers included ’empanadas’ served at the reception.

Their eyes and souls were filled with a lovely vision,

while attending an Eastern wedding. They both knew one

element of the ceremony would ‘have to be part of their

own’ wedding!

When they saw the centuries old tradition of something

called, “Cord and Veil Ceremony.” There was excitement

when this caught them, helping the planning to all fall

into place, after that serendipitous attendance of a

close friend’s wedding.

To explain this, while the couple hold hands and are

on their knees in front of the Priest or Father who

is leading the marriage ceremony, the sponsors place

a long, sheer, intricately designed rectangular veil

across the shoulders of both the bride and groom.

This custom is to represent or symbolize, “Purity.”

Then, once the pronouncement of their vows and the

priest has nearly completed the service, they have

a cord, it can be white silk, that is placed over

their heads, this connects them and it signifies

their “New Bond.”

Having gone through the many steps to reach this

special moment, the beauty in the presentation of

this couple was captured on film. Their silhouettes

of their backs on their knees, with the veil across

both their shoulders and the cord loosely laid

around both their necks shows a different kind of

wedding photograph. I could say it compared to

ones where the couple are on their knees up at

the altar, being blessed by their minister or

their priest.

I studied their photograph, their faces looking at

each other, adoringly, and I believe this marriage

will last.

I know their families, coworkers, patients and their

two sponsors will hold them in their prayers.

I think all the ‘work’ it took to get the complete

ceremony, with their giving and taking, their choosing

special parts, and debating which parts to include and

dismiss became a great beginning to how to overcome any

future challenges. They have created the foundation of

a lifelong partnership and their bond of marriage seems

strong.

When the couple entered the reception, they were treated

to Sri Lankan dancers. They were also led into a pathway

to their table, where there were little tea candles.

These candles, flickering and shining, led their way to

the special places they were to sit for the reception

meal.

I imagine this, more than have seen it. I have only

seen the one photograph, taken by a friend of the

family’s.

It is that of the traditional cord and veil positions

of Shanika and Anthony, heads turned towards each other,

their shoulders together, their hearts intertwined in

love.

It could almost bring tears to my eyes, as if they

had been my own children.

Wouldn’t this make a great fairy tale ending?