Their Own Private India – Idaho Style
Photography: Rachel Robertson
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—Guru Amar Das
After a series of prayers led by his mother, Gurmeet Singh was left alone to survey the colorful garb spread before him. Each item he would put on for the upcoming Anand Karaj had meaning. Each task he would undertake preceding the “blissful union” with Dev Mukh Kaur Khalsa would be deliberate.
There was the uchkin, a cream-colored robe with a gold embroidered collar, and a red silk scarf representing the blessing of Dev’s father. A gold-plumed red turban, looped with pearls, rested beside the sword, this a gift from his father, who had accepted it from his father’s grandfather, who was gifted with the bejeweled weapon by an Indian king.
After taking it all in, he slipped on the robe and tied the turban in anticipation of the ceremony, which would be in keeping with the ancient tradition of the Sikh religion.
Out of sight of his room at the Inn at Ellsworth Estate—but just across the way at Hailey’s rodeo grounds—Gurmeet’s pajama-clad sisters carefully dressed a quarter horse named Dudley, draping him in lavish tinsel, fringe, and velvet. Soon, the horse would be presented to Gurmeet to ride forth into marriage.
Dev and her mother, sisters, and friends were in another room at the inn, making their own preparations for the morning ceremony. As part of the tradition, Dev had elaborate henna designs applied to her hands and feet. She would soon adorn herself in a red silk brocade lehnga a variation on the traditional sari.
Indians consider a wedding the most important occasion in a family. Details are required in the planning that are so minute that it takes more than the best of wedding planners. Instead, mothers and grandmothers, uncles and nephews are called upon, as many of the traditions are oral.
As the time drew near, Gurmeet was not nervous. He knew he had listened well in the months before, as his relatives schooled him in the rites to be followed to complete this chapter in his decade-long relationship with Dev.
Apparently, though, someone had left out one important detail.
“I was getting ready to walk out the door and I was like, ‘where are my flipping shoes?’” Gurmeet recounted recently, the memory obviously still agitating him. “Then somebody asked me, ‘how much would you pay for them?’”
It was then that he realized that Dev’s mischievous sisters had swiped the fancy slippers, as tradition dictated. So—with a fistful of cash—he went to them to barter for their return.
Dev and Gurmeet met over a torn pair of pants while attending a boarding school in Dehra Dun, India, when he was 17 and she was 16. For weeks, Gurmeet had been awakened before dawn by the glint from a sword being used in the practice of a martial art known as Gutka on a rooftop adjacent to his dorm room.
He cursed the stranger, vowing to find out who was behind the nuisance.
When he noticed the freckle-faced brunette with a clean slice up the back of her pant leg and a matching cut in her skin, he was intrigued.
Inquiries were made, and Dev innocently identified herself as the solitary tormenter from the roof. >>>