Katy Perry’s Big Fat Hindu Divorce?

I know that the shelf life of the average Hollywood marriage is around five months or so. But I was still quite saddened by the news that Russell Brand had filed to divorce Katy Perry shortly after their first anniversary.

While most GetReligion readers probably don’t read the gossip pages or celebrity news section as much as the typical reader, we should acknowledge that there’s much more interest in the life of Perry than there is in what’s going on in Nigeria right now. Sad, but true. And I find recent reports about Perry and Brand’s looming divorce interesting from a GetReligion angle.

Take this headline and lede from the New York Daily News:

Russell Brand Katy Perry divorce has Hindu leaders angry after solemn Indian ceremony

Slammed for not taking the marriage ‘seriously’

While it’s relatively common in Hollywood for celebrity marriages to not last until death does them part, some Hindu leaders are taking Russell Brand and Katy Perry’s divorce very hard.

“They should have taken marriage more seriously as it is a sacred rite in Hinduism,” Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism told WENN. “In Hinduism, marriage is the most important sacrament.

“If celebrities opt for a Hindu wedding, they should be prepared to adhere to the commitment, devotion, responsibility, sanctity and morals, which are attached to it.”

Back when the wedding ceremony took place, I wondered whether it was accurate to call it a Hindu marriage ceremony. It was widely reported — though poorly sourced — that a Hindu priest had officiated at the ceremony. Brand is Hindu, while Perry is the child of two Christian pastors. But when it came to actual sourcing from the couple, it sounded much different. The couple released a statement to Us magazine that read:

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.

A commenter to the thread pointed out that the evangelical pastor who performed the marriage rite had commented on it publicly. The first and last lines of his blog post:

Yes, I married Katy Perry and Russell Brand. Rather, I was the officiating minister at the wedding. …

Oh, and refuting media outlets it was not a Hindu celebration. I was there.

What I find fascinating about all this is how something that’s just not true has become an accepted fact by the media, even if it is that popular section of media that follows celebrity. If you do a Google news search for Katy Perry Hindu, you get 736 news stories. One of those begins with this line:

English actor-comedian Russell Brand and American musician Katy Perry, who reportedly underwent elaborate Hindu wedding ceremony in October 2010

Another has this paragraph:

Now we have Perry and Brand. They had themselves a “Hindu style” wedding with a mandap in the middle of the Ranthambhore tiger reserve in 2010. They wore traditional Rajasthani dresses and went around a holy fire seven times while a priest chanted shlokas. Brand invoked Lord Ganesh. Fourteen months later he’s invoking “irreconcilable differences.”

I mean, we’ve gotten quite confident that this non-Hindu wedding was Hindu and we even have a lot of completely false details!

If the media can’t get this most basic of details correct when writing about these two people, one wonders what they do get right and if it’s just by chance when they do.

Print Friendly

  • Jerry

    If the media can’t get this most basic of details correct when writing about these two people, one wonders what they do get right and if it’s just by chance when they do.

    And the congregation said “amen”.

    Facts are the most basic level of truth, but all too often reporters can’t even get that level correct. It’s an example of how the game of telephone works in real life and is thus a part of human nature. But reporters should recognize that facts are being filtered through their biases and seek to correct for that by fact checking. And, of course, media outlets should be doing that as well.

    Sadly, given media realities, fact checking is on the endangered species list. And thus we wind up with Mollie’s blog post.

  • Will

    “They should have taken marriage more seriously as it is a sacred rite in Hinduism,” Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism told WENN. “In Hinduism, marriage is the most important sacrament.

    “If celebrities opt for a Hindu wedding, they should be prepared to adhere to the commitment, devotion, responsibility, sanctity and morals, which are attached to it.”

    As opposed to a Christian wedding?

    I mean, what kind of world do we live in?

  • Martha

    Well, let’s turn this around: if Russell Brand has converted to Hinduism, and is not a practicing Christian, did he or did he not contract a valid Christian marriage with Katy Perry in their “very private and spiritual ceremony… performed by a Christian minister”?

    What are the rubrics on such for Ms. Perry’s denomination? I imagine what we had here was a combination of celebrity cultural mash-up for the wedding with the practice of having two blessings/ceremonies where people are of different denominations or even faiths; maybe Mary’s family want her to be married by a Catholic priest while Alex’s family want it to be performed in their Protestant family church. Nowadays a lot of couples either opt for a civil service held in a registry followed by a blessing ceremony of some sort in one or both churches, or they have the ‘real’ wedding in one church and a blessing in the other.

    So Katy and Russell probably did the same; for her family, the friend of the family pastor performed the ceremony and for him, the Hindu ceremony. It’s a pity it didn’t last longer, but then again, I was so amazed when I first heard they were getting married, I didn’t even speculate on how long it might last.

  • Julia

    Americans always assume things work other places like they do here.

    Who is authorized to legally marry people in India?
    Does an American Christian pastor fit the bill?
    Maybe foreigners are not authorized to conduct marriages.
    Imagine a Hindu marriage in the US where the minister has been brought over from India.
    Lots of red tape for it to be legal & maybe not allowed.

    Perhaps the legal wedding was performed by the Hindu official and the American Christian minister presided over a ceremony that was only spiritual?

  • Larry the grump Rasczak

    @ Julia

    I haven’t had any experience with the issue, but given #3 (see below) I don’t think it would be a problem at all.

    Texas Family Code
    CHAPTER 2. THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP

    ?§ 2.202. PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT CEREMONY.
    (a) The following persons are authorized to conduct a marriage ceremony:

    (1) a licensed or ordained Christian minister or priest;

    (2) a Jewish Rabbi:

    (3) a person who is an officer of a religious organization and who is authorized by the organization to conduct a marriage ceremony; and

    (4) a justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of criminal appeals, justice of the courts of appeals, judge of the district, county, and probate courts, judge of the county courts at law, judge of the courts of domestic relations, judge of the juvenile courts, retired justice or judge of those courts, justice of the peace, retired justice of the peace, or judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state.

    (b) For the purposes of this section, a retired judge or justice is a former judge or justice who is vested in the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan One or the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan Two or who has an aggregate of at least 12 years of service as judge or justice of any type listed in Subsection (a)(4).?

    http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/statutes/docs/FA/content/htm/fa.001.00.000002.00.htm

  • Julia

    As a matter of fact, there’s the case of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall.
    I think they were “married” in a Hindu ceremony on Bali.
    When they split, paperwork could not be found.
    UK courts didn’t recognize that ceremony as legally binding.

    http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20268289,00.html

  • Julia

    Larry:

    I think it’s understood that the wedding minister in that statute is a member of a religion recognized in the US.
    And it might only pertain to celebrations in TX – sure looks like it refers to TX judges.
    What does the paperwork look like?
    What do the CA statutes say? [that's where the divorce was filed]
    That’s what a judge will want to know.
    I have a niece and a nephew who each are recognized members of US internet churches so they can conduct weddings.

    In general, US state courts recognize the marriages performed in other states and countries, but not always.

    I had an IL client who thought she had been married for 20 years because the state of Idaho recognized her as married by common law because they had one of those spiritual ceremonies on a cliff overlooking the Pacific back in her CA hippy days. We had to use partnership law to divide the property.

    It will be interesting to see who actually performed the ceremony. Hope there’s better paperwork than the Jagger situation.

  • Ira Rifkin

    Hinduism is an extraordinarily open-ended “religion” (its really many religions; a cornucopia of related belief systems originating in ancient India. Outsiders – from Arabs to Brits – adopted the label Hindu first as a geographic idenification for people before it became a way by which to identify the dizzying array of indigenous and exotic ethnic-based spiritualities of the Indian subcontinent.

    Wikipedia (a quick Internet search turned up mothing more authoritative) says this about Brand:

    “Brand has shown interest in the Hare Krishna Movement and chants the Hare Krishna mantra for drug rehabilitation.[72] During an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on her show in October 2010, Brand talked about his love of Transcendental Meditation.[73][74]”

    I’m not sure any of this – even if he does TM meditating and ISKCON chanting – makes him a “Hindu,” as opposed to simply someone interested in Hindu self-help philosophy. Likewise, having an Indian-style wedding does not make one Hindu (particularly if a Christian minister administers the vows) any more than the bride and groom wearing togas and serving guests wine in goblets makes them ancient Romans.

    All of this is far too complicated and off-point for the world of celebrity journalism, so forget about them investing the reporting time necessary to try and sort this out.

  • Julia

    All of this is far too complicated and off-point for the world of celebrity journalism, so forget about them investing the reporting time necessary to try and sort this out.

    Agreed. The divorce judge using CA law will decide the matter after looking at the documents to which we and the media are not privy.

  • John M.

    Can you convert to Hinduism? Do you get to go in as a Brahmin?

    I mean, I guess I’m making light of celebrities here, but it’s also a serious question. I never thought you could do anything more than “be inspired by Hindu approaches to life” or something like that.

    -John

  • John Pack Lambert

    Actually converting to Hinduism does occur. It could be argued that is what the Hare Krishna movement is.

    On the issue of Christian recognition in India, the most Baptist sub-national entity in the world is Manipur in eastern India. Nagaland is not far behind.

    However recognition of non-citizen, non-resident religious leaders performing marriages in India is another question. It may depend on what state they were in.

  • Christopher Esget

    Requirements for clergy performing marriages vary widely by state. When I was a pastor in Illinois, the court simply took my word for it. Ditto for Maryland. Virginia required a visit to the courthouse, a letter from my bishop and they asked to see documentation from my congregation as well. Minnesota was a lot of paperwork, but my secretary handled it :). Strangely enough, the District of Columbia is so stringent if you don’t live there that it’s not worth the hassle. All this is to say that don’t assume the Texas law printed above has any bearing on other states in the US.

  • http://www.concertticketshub.co.uk/ Concert Tickets

    They broke up already? They were only married for a year, right? That’s a damn shame! Russell, you messed up!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X