Hindu, Jew tell world of their marriage
India Abroad News Service
TORONTO: After five years of a blissful marriage, a
Canadian Jewish man and his Hindu wife have put their experiences on paper to
tell the world that liaisons between people from vastly varied cultures can work
Ehud Sperling and Vatsala, who came together under the
Indian system of "arranged marriage", took their wedding vows after an
eight-month correspondence through letters. They have put those letters
together, chronicling their courtship, and published it in the form of a book
titled 'A Marriage Made in Heaven: A Love Story in Letters'.
After two failed marriages, Sperling had decided the
Indian system of arranged marriage would work best for him.
Sperling, 51, runs a publishing company. Vatsala, 34,
who belongs to a traditional Hindu Brahmin family in Tamil Nadu, used to run the
microbiology department of the largest private children's hospital in Chennai
before their marriage.
Sperling has travelled across India extensively. Once
he stayed in the interiors of Uttar Pradesh with a friend and watched his
daughter Sapna opt for an arranged marriage. "I was part of her wedding. I
stayed with my friend for over one month, actively participating in giving of
gifts, receiving gifts, participating in all wedding rituals and
ceremonies," the Canadian recalled.
"I went through the whole experience of sexual
revolution, feminism, the radical transformation of the Western culture from the
culture in the 1960s," Sperling said of his past. "I heard about
idealism. I was looking for happiness at home as well....Men and women didn't
understand how to relate to each other," he found.
After closely watching arranged marriages in India,
Sperling decided to opt for one himself. It wasn't an altogether alien concept
for him as his grandmother had been paired off in similar fashion. Sperling's
family is originally from Poland and many of his relative were killed in the
holocaust preceding World War II.
Sperling inserted an advertisement in the matrimonial
column of The Hindu newspaper in India. Vatsala saw the advertisement and
discussed it with her parents and then responded to it. That marked the
beginning of their correspondence through letters.
Vatsala showed all of Sperling's letters to her mother
before responding. "Each time I showed the letter, I looked at her face and
I saw peace on that face...She was at peace and that was her blessing and the
reason that gave me courage to go ahead and get married," she said.
Sperling said that in their correspondence they
discussed at length "how to work out a relationship, who's responsible for
what, how to be a man and how to be a woman. What are the ideas about the
Western man and how can they harmonise with the traditional Indian point of
After their long correspondence, the met, got engaged
and married. "When I met him in person after this long correspondence I
didn't have to go through the drama of romance. I had already in me a person for
whom I have pure worship," Vatsala told IANS.
But how did two people from such diverse cultures come
together? "If you are respectful of cultural diversity and human beings,
then human values will connect us all over the world and those in my views are
the most important things in marital relations," Sperling said.
"No matter what beliefs you hold, your basic
expectations from life are the same," Vatsala said. "You can follow
any religion....no matter which background you come from, whatever be your
religion, that basic expectation is the way to work out to achieve that."
Sperling remains a Jew and Vatsala a Hindu. And their
four-year-old son follows both faiths.
To Ehud Sperling, India is the most tolerant society in
the world despite strife and violence. "I have never met people more
tolerant than Indians of others and others point of view," he said.