Chiharu Obata and Yuto Ninaga got married on April 1, 2017 in their home country, Japan, in a small ceremony. But the wedding ceremony of their dreams would come later, in another country.
Chiharu (27) and Yuto (31) had always had a special love for Tamil Nadu and its culture. So, when a friend of Chiharu suggested that she go to Madurai and get married in a traditional Tamil ceremony, there were no second thoughts for her.
This friend, V Vinodhini, and her husband Venkatesh, are from Madurai and live in Japan. The couple made all the arrangements for their Japanese friends to get married in a Hindu ceremony in Madurai on Sunday. While Chiharu was dressed in a red and gold sari and an orange blouse, her husband Yuto wore the traditional white veshti and white shirt.
The wedding was also attended by Chiharu’s parents, Keiji Obata and Naomi Obata, and Yuto’s brothers, Tunehito and Chiaki, and sister-in-law, Junko – all of whom could be seen dressed in traditional Indian attire at the wedding.
Speaking to media persons after the wedding ceremony, Chiharu, speaking in perfect Tamil said, “My name is Chiharu, I’ve come here from Japan. When I was in college, I was studying linguistics, and I chose to study Tamil. I came here for my research, and I really like the country and the culture.”
“I have always wanted to have a wedding as per Indian traditions,” she added.
When asked as to why she chose Madurai for the wedding, Chiharu said, “Madurai can be called the cultural centre of Tamil Nadu! This is why I decided to get married here.”
Yuto meanwhile said, “This is a very important experience for me. I’m very glad we did this.”
Right from the wedding cards which were printed in Tamil, to getting married as the priest chanted Vedic mantras before the holy fire – Chiharu and Yuto’s wedding went by the book. Ganesh Sharma, the priest who conducted the wedding, said that they conducted all the traditional rituals like Kashi Yatra, Sapthapathi (seven circumambulations) and Kanyaadaanam (giving away of the bride by her father).
They went to the Madurai Meenakshi temple with their families.
After the wedding, the couple even held a reception.
Chiharu has had a close connection with Tamil for a few years now.
She was doing research on Tamil when she found similarities between the Tamil and Japanese cultures. She even visited Tamil Nadu in 2014, also the year when she started doing the research. Enamoured by the traditions here, she visited the state again in 2015.
She then approached Vinodhini to learn Tamil and that’s how the friendship between the two women grew; so much so, that Chiharu even used to participate in Vinodhini’s family events.
Chiharu speaks fluent Tamil now, and says that it has taken a lot of practice and perseverance for her to be able to do so. She also says that while the Japanese refrain from marrying in a traditional way, she and Yuto had always wanted to come to Tamil Nadu and get married.
Yuto is even a fan of Kollywood actors Dhanush and Vijay, and took inspiration from them to tie his veshti for the wedding ceremony. While nervous due to the newness of the rituals, Yuto was happy and said he was getting used to the Tamil culture.
Chiharu meanwhile, found herself quite at home. “Tamilila enakku ellame pidikum (I love everything in Tamil),” she quipped after the ceremony.
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