High school friends Maya Assar and Zia Malik tie the knot with pheras and nikah in California.
Every once in a while, in a world divided by hate, one comes across stories that prove that love and respect reigns supreme over any differences.
Last month when California based business owner Maya Assar decided to tie the knot with her business partner and high school sweetheart Zia Malik, she knew her wedding would be different.
Maya, a Hindu belonging to Delhi in India was born and brought up in the US and Zia her groom had roots in Lahore, Pakistan.
While both Zia and Maya were aware of their different faiths and the infamous ‘animosity’ between their countries of origin, they also knew that there were more similarities than differences between their two families.
The two decided to take the plunge, with the blessings of their parents and honored the traditions and practices of both faiths.
In a stunning wedding, the couple had a traditional Hindu ceremony complete with pheras and jaimala followed by a Muslim nikah.
Talking to the American Bazaar, the new bride Maya says, “While people may have misconceptions about the differences, the truth is the more Zia and I got to know about each-other’s families the more similarities we found.”
Living in the US while one is not insulated from the ‘not-so-friendly’ vibes between India and Pakistan, growing up in a predominantly white school, Maya felt she had more in common with South Asians coming from India and Pakistan than others.
Talking about how the two met and if their inter-religious, inter-culture marriage posed a problem, Maya said, “Zia and I went to the same school and knew each other growing up. Then we drifted and life moved on but later during college years we met again and we were friends before we decided to get married.”
“The families were understanding of our decision and were open to meet each other,” she said.
The interesting thing. according to the couple is that when the families met, they too found so many similarities with one another.
“We speak similar languages, our traditions are similar,” Maya said. “When people talk about faith, I say the only difference is that Muslims believe in one God while we believe in many Gods. However, the basic tenets of humanity and compassion remain the same.”
As a bonus to their trans cultural union, the couple also had extended families flying in from India and Pakistan to be a part of their big day.
“I had relatives from Delhi and Mumbai and Zia had family from Lahore coming in.The guests enjoyed each-other’s unique perspective,” Maya said.
The beauty remained in the fact that the couple incorporated important elements from each-other’s faith to make it respectful and appreciative of their individual faiths.
Shumaila Panhwar of California based So Cal Event Planners, who organized the wedding celebrations says, “As a wedding planner, we have had many opportunities to assist with fusion weddings in America.”
“Many times, there seems to be a visible disconnect between the families’ due to cultural or religious differences or evident clashes that we have to help resolve.”
“But Maya and Zia’s event was the complete opposite. When we met the couple for the first time, it was obvious that they both not only loved each other but were fully respectful of each-others faith,” Panhwar said.
“This feeling only grew stronger, when I sat down with both set of families to walk through the itinerary for both the ceremonies.”
“Their parents made sure to ask questions to truly understand the customs and religious aspects of each ceremony,” she said.
“That respect and love was felt in the room so much so that when the couple walked me out of the meeting, I commented that how great it was to see that love had no boundaries.”
On having a Hindu wedding followed by a Nikah, Panhwar said, “Friends and family were attentive and ready to participate in each-other’s culture in any way they could. It was surreal.”