Something borrowed, something Hindu?

Photo by: KGC49/starmaxinc.com 2010  6/25/10 Katy Perry and Russell Brand out and about. (London, England)  Photo via Newscom

Pop singer Katy Perry and comedian Russell Brand married this weekend in India. Katy Perry began her career as a singer in the Contemporary Christian Music market so I was a bit surprised to read that it was a traditional Hindu ceremony. Maybe. I read that in the Washington Post, the Boston Herald, Entertainment Weekly, ABC News, Telegraph, Daily Mail, New York Daily News, MTV, and so on and so forth (this is a story of international importance). Here’s a snippet from a typical news report:

Pop princess Katy Perry married the bizarre British comedian yesterday in a Hindu ceremony. The nuptials featured an over-the-top procession of 21 camels, elephants and horses, plus dancers and musicians, according to Indian press.

A Hindu priest officiated the celebrity wedding in front of family and close friends at the Aman-e-Khas resort near a wild tiger preserve in northwestern India, a hotel official told The Associated Press.

It was just in August that Rolling Stone interviewed Ms. Perry and she said she’s still a Christian. So what happened? Did she become Hindu in the intervening months? Was it just a Hindu ceremony with at least one Christian participant?

But wait, there are other news reports. Was this rite even Hindu at all? Note that the sources for the above stories are all anonymous. But check out this bit from US Magazine:

Hours after saying, “I do!” a rep for Katy Perry and Russell Brand has released the following statement to UsMagazine.com:

“Russell Brand and Katy Perry are overjoyed to confirm that they were pronounced Mr. and Mrs. Brand on Saturday, October 23. The very private and spiritual ceremony, attended by the couples’ closest family and friends was performed by a Christian minister and longtime friend of the Hudson Family. The backdrop was the inspirational and majestic countryside of Northern India.”

Hudson is Perry’s actual last name. OK, so the representatives for the actual people say that their ceremony was performed by a Christian minister. Maybe the superstar’s parents remain relatively traditional believers of some kind?

I know that people don’t have a very high standard for celebrity news, but this seems like an important detail to get right. Perhaps before thousands of incorrect stories are spread for days, even celeb journalists could work to get the basics right.

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  • Jerry

    You’re expecting accuracy from the celebrity gossip set? Oh my, you are an idealist of the first rank given the usual level of media coverage.

    Since the media was shut out of the event with one exception according to one story, we don’t really know what happened.

    I was on a group trip to India a number of years ago. A couple of friends got married while on that tour. They dressed in traditional Indian garb and there were traditional Indian elements to the ceremony, but the person performing the ceremony was part of the tour group and not a Hindu. Maybe this happened here.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    JERRY:

    Except that the minister was said to be a friend of the (evangelical) family. That makes the story even stranger.

    Stay tuned.

  • mrh

    I know two separate couples that were married in joint Hindu/Christian ceremonies. I would suspect this was a Western ceremony mixed with Hindu iconography.

  • Julia

    It might be akin to the Christian-looking weddings in Japan with fake priests/ministers. People just like the look and feel of them from movies they’ve seen.

    Here’s a Japanese site about the fad.
    http://www.seiyaku.com/seiyaku/en/western-wedding.html

    Here’s a BBC article on Westerners making money as fake priests for Christian-style weddings.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6067002.stm

    It’s all about the aesthetics, not religion.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    I think we have to bare in mind what is required for a Christian wedding to be properly a Christian wedding.

    I mean, as far as I can tell, if you are an Evangelical or low protestant Christian, this is not a very easy question to answer. I think you would need a minister or pastor of some sort, and invoking dieties other than God the father, God the son and God the Holy Ghost would be unacceptable. At least if the people are at all religious conservatives.

    However, having huge numbers of camels, canopies of one type or another, and lots of other things seems unlikely to be actually incompatible. There is no reason a Protestant wedding has to be in any way Western. For one thing, there are millions of protestants in India.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blogspot.com John Pack Lambert

    As a follow up to my last comment the most baptist sub-national division in the world is Manipur state in India. It has a significantly higher percentage of baptists than Georgia.

    Of course that is north-east India, the seven sisters states, in some of which they speak languages close to Tibetan and in fact Arunchal Pradesh is known in Chinese circles as South Tibet.

    However, if the minister was an American friend traveling with them, it does not matter where in India they were.

  • Martha

    Mollie, forget the “Washington Post” and proper newspapers. What you should be reading are the likes of “Hello!” magazine; the online story explains it all!

    http://www.hellomagazine.com/celebrities/201010254367/katy-perry/russell-brand/wedding/1/

    This has very little to do with religion and much, much more to do with celebrity weddings and how over the top they can be. Don’t you remember the Beckhams getting married back in 1999 at Luttrellstown Castle here in Ireland?

    “Twenty-nine close friends and family witnessed the event, which was held in a private room of the castle decorated with rose petals and silver birch trees. Victoria arrived at the castle in a burgundy vintage Bentley, with her sister and maid of honor, Louise, and David’s two nieces who were flower girls.

    The bride walked down a 60-foot walkway covered in flowers, as a harp and violin duo played Mozart, Bach and Handel. She made her grand entrance wearing a champagne colored strapless Vera Wang gown with a 20-foot train. In her hair, she wore an 18-carat gold crown encrusted with diamonds by jeweler Slim Barrett. The groom wore an ivory and cream suit. Brooklyn, the couple’s baby son, wore a white suit by Antonio Berardi and slept peacefully through the ceremony.

    The wedding was officiated by the Bishop of Cork, Paul Colton, and at the conclusion of the tearful vows, a single white dove was released. In celebration, a purple heraldic flag was raised above the castle with the letters ‘V.B.D.’ —for Victoria, Brooklyn and David.”

    That would be the Church of Ireland bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. Now, what he was doing officiating a wedding between two (I imagine) Church of England parishioners, in a diocese not his own, where they are not resident… well, less to do with religion and more to do with spectacle.

    And making exclusive deals with glossy magazines for the rights to the wedding coverage; I bet anything you like Mr. Brand and his lovely bride have sold the rights to “Hello” or the like. The Rooneys (Wayne and Colleen) did so for £2.5 million when they got married in a “900-year-old church stands on the former site of a pagan temple and is decorated with Renaissance paintings” in Italy.

    When it comes to celebs, it’s all about the extravaganza!

  • http://ontheotherfoot.blogspot.com Joel

    That would be the Church of Ireland bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. Now, what he was doing officiating a wedding between two (I imagine) Church of England parishioners, in a diocese not his own, where they are not resident… well, less to do with religion and more to do with spectacle.

    Aren’t the Church of England and the Church of Ireland in communion? Though I agree with your analysis either way.

    That link does kind of answer one question I had, which was whether Katy’s parents attended the wedding. Given the way their faith was presented in the Rolling Stone article earlier this year, it would seem like a difficult thing for them to attend an actual Hindu ceremony. But the Hello article allows for the possibility that it was actually a Christian ceremony with Hindu imagery.

  • BR

    Her father is an Evangelical pastor/speaker named Keith Hudson. He has a website related to a ministry in Southern California.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Being part of the Anglican Communion is not the issue. To function in a particular diocese, a priest has to have “faculties” there….. he can’t just move in and set up shop.

  • http://www.mormoninmichigan.blospot.com John Pack Lambert

    Will,
    would that mean that the Beckhams being part of the Church of England would not be an issue and that the only issue would be the castle would not be under the bishop of Cork?

    I am not yet convinced there was anything particularly “Hindu” in the imagery of the Brands wedding. The groom giving the bride a gift may not be American custom, and it may have some religious meaning to Hindus, but I can not see it being out of line with Christian ceremony, and would not at all be surprised if it is done at many Christian weddings in India, although almost certainly never this extravagant.

    As far as I can tell they did not invoke the names of Shiva, Shmi or other Hindu gods or goddesses in the ceremony. A sari is not a religious outfit, and it was not even worn at the ceremony.

    This is a good question. What type of clothing do Protestant brides wear in India? Well, it probably varies since the most protestant parts of India are along the boundary with Myanmar where the Protestants are indigenous people who in some was are more South-East than South Indian and who at any rate are not part of the cultural complex of most of the rest of India.

  • http://ontheotherfoot.blogspot.com Joel

    Will, in the Catholic Church all a visiting priest needs is the permission of the local pastor. I don’t think it even needs to go to the bishop, although if the visitor is a bishop it may be another matter.

    John, most of the news reports said it was a traditional Hindu ceremony. That’s what’s confusing about it. Did her Protestant clergy friend follow a Hindu ritual (unlikely on the face of it), or did the reporters just assume the Christian ceremony was Hindu because of the trappings, or what>

  • Julia

    The groom giving the bride a gift may not be American custom

    My Catholic groom gave me pearl earrings as a wedding gift.

    But that was in 1966. Maybe grooms in America don’t do that any more.

  • get the facts

    Was the minister a Hindu priest? NO. Was it a Hindu ceremony? Well, he says it wasn’t… and given my experience with Cliff, I’m pretty sure he’s a credible source. Check it out.
    http://unisonharvest.com/?p=943


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