Thursday, December 15, 2011


Last weekend (Dec 2011) I was in New Delhi to attend the wedding of my very close friend's daughter. The week-long pre-wedding festivities gave me an opportunity to observe and learn about the customs and rituals of a Sikh wedding, and also get to know more about the Sikh commuity.

At the temple to observe the wedding rites

Like Alice discovering Wonderland, I soaked up the rich cultural experience. I donned the salwar kameez, wore a bindi on my forehead, and even had mehendi done on my arms. I sampled every vegetarian dish that was served. Even when my diet wouldn't permit me to take a bite of the mutton or chicken, it didn't stop me from sampling the curry that went with the meat dishes. I found everything fascinating and whatever I didn't understand, my new Sikh friends were ever eager to enlighten me.

For many of the overseas guests, it was their first taste of Sikh cuisine.

The salad section was a hit with the older guests.

Aside from the food, the entertainment and the ceremonies all of which I thoroughly enjoyed, what impressed me most were the people, to be more specific, the older members of Sohrab's extended family of aunties and uncles. If Singapore's Council for Third Age were looking for role models for their active ageing campaigns, they would have plenty to choose from here.

Sikh women are absolutely stunning and regal in their looks and demeanor. They are the epitome of graceful ageing. The men are equally good-looking, well-built and carry themselves extremely well.

Everywhere I looked, there were men and women in their 50s, 60s and 70s who could have easily graced the covers of AARP magazine. The men I spoke with were charming and affable, and the women gracious and friendly. All of them were well-read and much-travelled. Many had settled in the US and Europe, and had returned to Delhi for the wedding celebrations, and for a family reunion.

Let me introduce a few of these seniors who have impressed me with their dynamism and positive outlook on life. Every one of them is an inspiration to the rest of us.

Ninu and Jitinder. "Love grows," says Ninu.

Ninu, 53, is a home-based designer of exotic jewellery. She spent her early years in Japan and now resides in LA with her husband, Jitinder, 60, and their two sons. Vivacious, articulate and fun-loving, Ninu certainly lives life to the fullest. "Don't live in the past. The past is history, the future is mystery, so make the most of the present." Good advice that we should all take to heart.

It was easy to single out Bobby Oberoi, 60. At over six feet tall, he certainly stood out among the wedding guests. "Don't take life too seriously." Although the advice didn't come from him, he could have just as well given it as he kept me in stitches with his wit and wonderful sense of humour throughout our short interview.

What he did share with me was this: "Never think of harming anyone because bad thoughts come back to you manifold. Live your life as if you have no time left, and don't put off doing what you want to do. Just do it." Advice taken, Bobby. I just wish there were more seniors back home who shared your life philosophy.

Age has not slowed down the groom's father, Arvinder, one bit. At 59, he is a tennis champion in the veteran category and has competed in international tournaments in the UK and Australia. He plans to compete in the US next year. Way to go, Arvinder! (Pic: the groom's parents, Arvinder and Pinky, looking on as the newly-weds feed each other a piece of their wedding cake.)

Then there is Manjit, 76, who used to work as a financial systems IT analyst in New York. Since retiring at age 71 she has more time to indulge in her passion - singing religious songs and enjoying Indian classical music.

I ask her what makes Sikh men and women age so well. It's the genes, diet and the environment, she tells me. Most Sikhs are vegetarians. Their diet is rich in calcium - lots of milk and yoghurt in their cooking. That probably explains why almost every senior Sikh that I saw stood tall and straight. No bent backs or knees anywhere at the garden party. No visible signs of osteoporosis as far as I could tell.

Finally, there's Jenny, 55, recently retired and, together with her Australian husband, now runs a bed-and-breakfast alpine retreat in Porepunkah, Victoria. Her advice: "Keep busy. Stay active and plan your retirement".

If I've learned anything from all these distinguished Sikh men and women, and from Jenny, it is to be reminded afresh that age is definitely just a number. Our hair may be greying, and our skin no longer taut, but we can all still remain young at heart and in spirit. Life is for living whatever the age. Don't waste it on whining and pining for lost youth.

The newlyweds with their friends and relatives from overseas. A most memorable wedding.


pinsysu said...

great post maam. enjoyed reading it. merry xmas & God bless!

Starmandala said...

Waaah... such high-quality blogging on the move! Fabulous photos to match an uplifting report. Hugs xoxox

இ Baŋäŋaz இ said...

tQ for your pixz on the Indian barber my post on Hair is up.

andal said...

Hi Lily. Great write up and thank you for the information about people who have kept age at bay. My personal belief is do whatever you can to use your body mind and spirit. Age will become irrelevant.Cheers to the Golden era.