Many of you know that I lost my best friend to a car accident three years ago. I’m still in a bit of shock over it. One of the things that we did together was talk about weddings. We both loved them. We watched TLC’s A Wedding Story in our dorm common room every chance we got. She had an opinion on every dress. We promised each other that we would be bridesmaids at each other’s weddings.
That was a promise that I was able to fulfill when she got married a few years after we graduated. I took a lot longer to find the guy for me and so my fiance was never able to meet Ilana.
Even though she can’t be a bridesmaid this summer, I wanted to find a way to include her and honor her memory. I know I’m not the only one looking to do this; I see posts on TheKnot.com about how to honor a deceased parent or grandparent. It can be tricky to balance the different needs of all the people at the wedding who knew and loved that person. For my situation, however I choose to honor Ilana will work. (I read one post where the groom wanted to honor the memory of his father with a rose on an empty chair, but his mother was very distraught at the idea. She didn’t want the memory of her dead husband there beside her).
So, what is the Hindu way to remember our departed loved ones?
Putting a photograph on one’s altar and honoring it as though it were the person. Fifty seconds into this clip from Monsoon Wedding (one of my FAVORITE movies! A really nice look at India’s struggle between tradition and modernity) you can see the family honoring a lost relative by putting kumkum powder on the image of his forehead and touching the bottom of the photo as though touching his feet.
I would like to have a table at the wedding reception for photographs of our deceased loved ones. I’d like to hang a garland around the frame of each one and mark their foreheads. I’m not sure if we’ll be doing that for anyone other than Ilana, though.
Other ways I’ve heard of giving tribute to a lost loved one:
- Including their name in the wedding programs
- Leaving an empty chair for that person or leaving a flower or object that belonged to them on the chair
- Having the officeint give a prayer for missing loved ones
- Wearing something of theirs, such as a locket
- Lighting a candle for memorial