A new chapter in my life, getting married, started during the pandemic. Embarking on a new chapter in life is always thrilling, but getting married during a pandemic takes excitement to a whole new level. After a couple of years, I finally have the chance to share my extraordinary story. As a practitioner of Sahaja Yoga, a meditation technique that I have described before, I had the unique opportunity of exploring an arranged marriage within the community. In 2021, I was matched with my future wife, who resided in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) while I resided in the US.
Our journey began with simple conversations over WhatsApp and Botim (as WhatsApp calls were not allowed in the UAE). Despite the challenges of time differences and schedules, we established a routine to engage in regular conversations and meditations together. Virtual introductions between our families soon followed, and it became evident that we were ready to take the plunge and tie the knot.
However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions in place, determining the location of our wedding posed a significant challenge. My fiancée couldn't join me in the US or Canada yet due to visa limitations, and flying to India was not a viable option due to restricted flights. After extensive deliberation, we discovered that I could visit the UAE (as Canadians receive visas upon arrival easily) and legally marry at the Consulate General of India in Dubai, operating under Indian laws.
Nevertheless, navigating the logistics amidst travel restrictions during the pandemic proved to be no small feat. Although being born in India opened up the possibility of marrying there, flights remained closed, and restrictions persisted. Fortunately, my visit to Dubai allowed us to get engaged (with the help of my fiancée’s local friends in the Sahajayoga community) and delve into the intricate process of legalizing our marriage. However, deciphering the requirements set by the Consulate General of India proved to be a daunting task, further complicated by their limited responsiveness via email or phone.
Undeterred, we pursued alternative options, ultimately working through the Dubai local courts' public notary service and local consular services to obtain affidavits affirming our single status. Our journey involved exploring various avenues, such as obtaining a statement in lieu of a certificate of non-impediment to marriage and consulting lawyers, before finally finding a viable solution. Despite the time and financial investment in previous unsuccessful attempts, we persevered.
Once we acquired the necessary documents to satisfy the Consulate General of India's requirements, we faced the next challenge—advertising our intention to marry in four different countries: India, UAE, Canada, and the US, corresponding to our respective places of citizenship and residence. This advertising process came at a considerable cost, and a one-month waiting period followed the placement of the ads. Finally, we submitted the ads to the Consulate General of India in person, which led to the confirmation of our marriage date one month later.
The civil ceremony itself adhered to COVID-19 restrictions, allowing only the bride, groom, and three witnesses to be present. Regrettably, even our parents couldn't attend the ceremony; however, they eagerly awaited us just outside the Consulate General of India to extend their heartfelt congratulations. Following the ceremony, we celebrated with a delightful reception hosted by my wife's friends in Dubai, along with a few days of exploration, including iconic sites like the Burj Khalifa, Desert Safari, and an exhilarating jetpack ride—a personal highlight.
Although we were now legally married, my wife's journey to the US was yet another hurdle to overcome due to pandemic-related issues. The closure of the US Consulate for several months hindered the interview process. However, through persistent efforts, we secured an appointment and gathered all the necessary documents. Preparing meticulously for the interview paid off as my wife received her visa, and two weeks later, I joyfully welcomed her to the US.
Transitioning from the vibrant hustle and bustle of Dubai to the serene rural surroundings of Indiana was a dramatic change for my wife. However, since her arrival, we have embarked on frequent journeys (thankfully, as travel restrictions eased in late 2021), which aided her adjustment to our new life.
Some of our most cherished trips have taken us to enchanting destinations like Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Iceland. Additionally, we returned to India to partake in a marriage ceremony rooted in Sahajayoga traditions—an awe-inspiring experience where I had the privilege of making a grand entrance on horseback.
Although bureaucracy initially posed challenges, our shared moments together (and sometimes apart) have nurtured our relationship, allowing it to flourish. Our cross-continental marriage journey during the pandemic has undoubtedly been demanding, but the rewards of sharing our lives together have made it all worthwhile.
The text of this article was generated with help from ChatGPT (https://chat.openai.com/)