May issue 2004

By | Society | Published 20 years ago

Surrounded by friends and family and by drummers beating a joyous rhythm the bridegroom approached astride a white horse, looking every inch the Prince come to wed Mumtaz Mahal. In the soft light of dusk hundreds of diyas twinkled, ropes of marigolds hung from the surrounding trees lining the flower-strewn pathway on either sides. Girls with baskets of roses showered petals on the procession as Vivek neared the spot where Sonya awaited him. Standing under a canopy of flowers, she truly looked as though she had stepped out of one of the scenes from the film she is currently finishing, Akbar Khan’s Taj Mahal. The rich dull red and gold clothes and the jewels only added to her beauty, and joy and happiness shone on her face as she and Vivek garlanded each other and moved towards the ritual fire.

Sonia Rizvi Jehan, grand daughter of the legendary Madam Nur Jehan, and Vivek Narain, a charming young banker, tied the nuptial knot in New Delhi in a glittering ceremony attended by Sonya’s mother Florence Rizvi, her brother Sikander and Nur Jehan’s daughters, Nazia and Shazia.

As the various rituals were performed, I saw a simpler, but far more touching scene, being played in my memory. Just after Christmas we were gathered at Florence’s home in Karachi after one of her wonderful dinners when Akbar Rizvi asked Sonya and Vivek to come close as he wished to bless their future union — at first we smiled as an improvised fire in the shape of a shamadan was placed on the floor, Florence’s red lipstick was used as sindoor, and Sonya and Vivek circled the candle. Suddenly the moment became very moving as Akbar reached out to bless his daughter and her fiance — this was no theatrical little scene he was playing, he was sincere in his intensity; possibly he knew what none of us could have imagined: that he would not be present on Sonya’s wedding. It was a magical moment. There was nothing of the glamour of the wedding in that evening, but somehow Akbar made us feel that this was the true ceremony. And for Sonya the memory of that evening will always remain in her heart — as in ours.