Wonder what one of the first Canadian Gujurati Hindu gay weddings looked like in the midst of a global pandemic?
Parimal Gosai and Hasheel Lodhia couldn’t have had a better pandemic wedding. The two lovers met on the dating app, OK Cupid. After meeting, Hasheel, a musician, invited Parimal to one of his concerts. Seven years later, they tied the knot surrounded by friends and family in their parents’ backyard.
“I don’t think it clicked for both of us how much of a connection we had to our culture, until we got into this giant warehouse where people were celebrating Navaratri and people were having Garba and we were both so excited to do it and we both knew all the moves,” Hasheel said in an interview with Urban Asian. “And I think in that moment, we both fell in love each other. We both knew the strong reality that this was the person that we’re going to spend the rest of our life with.”
Their intense connection with Hindu culture led them to plan a wedding filled with Indian traditions such as Garba, a Hindu priest flown in from Minnesota, and plenty more. Originally, the two planned to host a small ceremony. However, Hasheel’s father brought up how they should be proud of their identity and host a large wedding instead. So, they began planning for a 400-person affair. Clearly, COVID-19 did not allow that to occur and Hasheel and Parimal got married with closer friends and family instead.
“We had our local priest perform a Ganesh Puja and a Satyanarayan puja. Then, we signed our marriage license so that’s why we just called it a civil ceremony. We didn’t really call it a wasn’t really a Hindu ceremony, per se,” Hasheel said. “But it was our own version of it which was really nice. It happened to be full moon, Guru Poornima. So, after dinner everyone got into their pajamas and sat around the campfire. We did a bit of garba, listened to music and ended off the night with a full moon meditation. It was such a holistic beautiful day.”
The most important part of this wedding to Hasheel and Parimal was inspiring others in the LGBTQ+ and Hindu communities to be proud of their identities. In particular, they want society to have those tough conversations and start a discussion around the LGBTQ+ community. To stop the circulation of false stereotypes and the hurtful stigma attached to the LGBTQ+ community, talking about the issue as a society and coming together in acceptance is the best thing we could do right now to support one another.
“I think that the number one biggest step, whether it’s around LGBT or around mental health issues, is simply just having those conversations. We need to talk and be comfortable saying the word gay, gay weddings, be comfortable saying the word, depression, and anxiety. Those are the things that people need to learn and develop in their vocabulary,” Hasheel said. “Growing up in a strict conservative household that already exists, but what’s worse is that, you know, mental health issues around mental health are equally as taboo as issues around queerness in South Asian communities.”
Hasheel also shared his story on entering the LGBTQ+ community and celebrating his feminine side while also being male.
“The battles that I faced were mostly internal, to be honest; it took me almost a year and a half. I had a girlfriend in high school, and mid high school I came out as bisexual. The reason I came out as bisexual was not because I wasn’t attracted to girls. But, there was something in me that was telling me it’s okay. You can at least like girls and that will gain you respect in society,” Hasheel said. “It was that constant voice in my head. As I developed through my adolescence and as I actually realized I was gay, I learned to not be ashamed of who I was. I embraced my feminine side.”
Through sharing the story of Parimal and Hasheel’s incredible wedding experience, we hope to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and the advancements that have been made in making this wedding possible. However, there is still a long way to go. We have to start talking and having these uncomfortable discussions to make them comfortable. We must eradicate these stigmas and stereotypes around the world. This wedding is the first of many gay weddings to come, and Urban Asian is proud to support and advocate with the LGBTQ+ community.
Featured Image Photography Credit to @taranoellephoto