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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 wonderfully.

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 view."

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.





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