Marci Shimoff, co-author of the wildly popular Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul, has visited India on five previous occasions.

American author of Chicken Soup renews wedding vows with husband at temple near MaduraiMarci Shimoff
Features Human Interest Monday, February 19, 2018 - 13:54

For many in the West, India is a land of the mystique. For author Marci Shimoff, however, the connection runs deeper. 

She got married to her husband, Sergio Baroni, in Madurai, twelve years ago.

“It was some sort of a prophesy for us to get married in India. I feel like we were married here in another life. We even have Hindu names – Meenakshi and Shiva,” says Marci. 

Marci is the author of New York Times bestselling book Happy for No Reason. She has also co-authored Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul, part of the famous ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series.

The author is currently in the country to rejuvenate herself and to celebrate her 60th birthday. “I often go on retreats to connect with my soul in a deeper way. I love coming to India and I feel very much at home here. There’s a deep familiarity that I share with the country,” she says when TNM reached her over the phone.

As part of her rejuvenation, the author and her husband renewed their wedding vows at a small, rural temple near Madurai.

Having studied transcendental meditation at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram, Marci shares that it was meditation that helped her overcome her struggle with depression. “I was sixteen when I first meditated. It was also the period of the Hare Krishna movement in the West and when The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh in 1968.”

Read: How Americans came to embrace meditation, and with it, Hinduism

In the opening chapter of Happy for No Reason, Marci talks of her experience in India, of spending time in the Himalayas. Talking to us, the author reiterates how her experience in the country helped her understand happiness better. 

In the book she writes, “The experience reinforced my conviction that happiness isn't about having everything you've ever dreamed of, nor is it simply negating the need for material pleasures in life. It goes deeper than that. What we’re all really looking for is happiness from within that doesn't depend on external circumstances – the kind I call Happy for No Reason.”

Despite finding so much inspiration for her book in India, Marci observes that more Indians are unhappy these days. “When people become more materialistic, they tend to become more unhappy. This is a common reason why unhappiness is more prevalent in the West.”

Having authored two books exclusively on women in the biggest self-help series in the world, Marci says, “I find that Indian women are becoming more empowered. There is a rise in the movement that honours all genders as equal.”

This is her sixth trip to the country, and the author says that she is grateful to everything the country has to offer. An American Hinjew (a person who follows Hinduism and Judaism), Marci says she isn’t new to Indian rituals. “I have been part of yagna's and other rituals. Were it not for my Ayurveda retreat in Kerala, I would've visited a temple during Sivarathri,” she laughs. 

During her time in Kerala, Marci met the oldest Jewish woman in Kochi. She also visited the synagogue and Jew Street in Mattancherry. “It felt very nice to meet her. We spent time together and recited Jewish prayers.”

Marci also runs an online course,’ Your Year of Miracles’, primarily for women, where close to 2000 women from 72 counties have signed up. “I’ve got a number of women from India who have signed up for the course and I’ve met a couple of them already!” she smiles.

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