He proposed to her on Kashmir's beautiful Dal Lake, and she accepted. Here, bride Priya Darshini recalls the lovely moments of her romance with Max ZT, and their Indian-Jewish wedding rituals which also saw them raise funds for the Jana Rakshita Foundation that aids children with cancer treatments.

Priya Darshini and Max ZT, Novotel Hotel, Mumbai

How We Met
“We met at a friend’s place in Mumbai. I was living in Nashville, Tennessee playing music there at the time, but was visiting India on an assignment. Max is originally from the US but was living in India to study with Pandit Shivkumar Sharma on a grant received from the American Institute of Indian Studies. After being acquaintances for a while our relationship slowly graduated into friendship and then love! After a few years of a long-distance relationship, I moved to New York to explore the music world there and the viability of our relationship.

Priya Darshini and Max ZT, Novotel Hotel, Mumbai

Wedding Proposal
“I had gone to Kashmir to scout a location for my racing company – The Windchasers. Max offered to join me, to which I happily agreed. During the sunset we’d rent a shikara and float around the Dal lake, read a book or listen to Shivkumarji. One evening, when we were listening to the Adhaan echoing and reverberating off of the Himalayan mountains surrounding us, I remember making a video of this profoundly beautiful moment so I could sample the sounds later and It was at this mystical moment that Max brought out a ring and happened to surprise me with the most beautiful proposal.”

Wedding Planning
“We wanted to be mindful of our expenditure and wanted our wedding to be a meaningful celebration of our beautiful cross-cultural relationship. We decided to bring both our cultures together and have both styles of wedding ceremonies— a Tamilian one and a Jewish one. We also made sure that we didn’t accept any gifts from our guests and rather suggested them to donate it to the Jana Rakshita NGO that helps raise funds for underprivileged children suffering from cancer.”

Wedding Venues
“I always imagined a very small wedding ceremony in the Himalayas but since it was quite inconvenient for my guests to travel, we settled on hosting both our weddings in Mumbai. I wanted an outdoor setting and thought that the seaside area at the Novotel Hotel would be perfect.”

Wedding Functions

Mehndi & Vratham/Vrutham ceremony
“We commenced our wedding ceremonies with a small mehndi function and a pre-wedding Iyengar Tamil ritual called the Vratham/Vrutham that is meant to bless the bride with luck and long life. Following this, we had an Indian classical music performance by my Guruji, Sunil Borgaonkarji accompanied by Ustad Farooq Latif Khan on the sarangi, Manish Mandankar on the tabla and myself. To have my guruji play for my wedding and to accompany him on the tanpura was a big honour for me”

Hindu & Jewish Wedding
“We planned the wedding within two months and wanted to host it on the same day. In the morning, we had a small Tamilian Iyengar wedding for which I wore Ahimsa silk sarees that were bought in Chennai and Bangalore and accessorized it with antique heirloom gold jewellery.”

“For the Jewish wedding, we wanted to integrate both the cultures and decided to design a unique wedding area which combined the aesthetics of an Indian mandap setting and the Jewish ‘chuppah’ (canopy). We took the help of National Decorators who crafted very minimalistic floral décor for us. The ceiling of it was specially designed by Max’s parents who are artists - it was an installation art piece that combined beautiful details from our lives and all the pictures of our forefathers.”

“I wore a beautiful white halter gown from Isa by Dolly Wahal and accessorized it with statement gold earrings from the Mediated Matter Collection by Misho designs. My makeup artist, Sonam Chandna created a subtle dreamy, romantic and natural look.”

Priya Darshini and Max ZT, Novotel Hotel, Mumbai

Priya Darshini and Max ZT, Novotel Hotel, Mumbai

Priya Darshini and Max ZT, Novotel Hotel, Mumbai

Priya Darshini and Max ZT, Novotel Hotel, Mumbai

Priya Darshini and Max ZT, Novotel Hotel, Mumbai

Priya Darshini and Max ZT, Novotel Hotel, Mumbai

Priya Darshini and Max ZT, Novotel Hotel, Mumbai

“We had two wedding receptions. One was at the Novotel Hotel’s banquet hall where Max performed a song he wrote for me and then I joined him in playing a couple of other original songs we’ve written together. We later had a beautiful music concert performed by all of our musician friends from New York.”

Our second reception was hosted at the Madras Race Club in Chennai where we also played a few original songs for our guests and were later joined by my cousin Navneeth on the keys.

Advice for couples planning their wedding
“Go slow and take your time. Remember why you are getting married, and recognize that everyone is choosing to be a part of it because they love you and support your union. Most importantly, enjoy your big day and be kind. You’re building a truly sacred memory.”

Wedding Vendors
Wedding Location: Novotel Hotel, Juhu Beach, Mumbai
Reception Location: Novotel Hotel, Juhu and Madras Race Club, Chennai
Rabbi: Zach Fredman, New Shul (New York)
Decor: National Decorators
Mehndi Event Management: MasterStroke Events by Gaurish Lad
Bridal Trousseau: Isa by Dolly Wahal (Jewish Ceremony & Reception), Ahimsa Sarees, Bangalore (Wedding)
Jewellery: Misho Designs (Jewish Ceremony & Reception)
Hair & Makeup: Sonam Chandna
Sound: Bajaao.com & Ashutosh Pande
Catering: Nirmalyam Caterers (South Indian) & Food by Kilo (Mehndi)
Photography: Nitesh Square Photography

You can find more about the Jana Rakshita Foundation here

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