A new documentary produced by the Smithsonian Channel has followed three couples in the US as they plan traditional Indian weddings—including one same-sex couple.
My Big Bollywood Wedding features Aneesa and Melinda, who work as teachers at the same school in Massachusetts.
“There was an unmistakable gravitational pull between us that could not be denied,” says Melinda of their connection.
Aneesa adds that their first kiss “changed my life, absolutely”.
“I’m 44-years-old at this point and I was like, how can a kiss make such an impact on me? But it did and there was no looking back after that."
The TV show documents how the couple plans their wedding, drawing upon elements of traditional Indian and Christian ceremonies.
The program notes that while homosexuality is illegal in India, the legislation was introduced by the British during colonisation.
Vineet Chander is the Director of Hindu Life program at Princeton University and says that in Hindu tradition, “some of the most venerated Hindu texts talk about gender being a spectrum, talk about gender roles being fluid”.
“Some of that has been lost, unfortunately because of the influence of things like the Victorian British sensibilities and the times of colonialism," says Chander. “And I think this is one of the things that we all need to engage with.”
Melinda says that Aneesa’s family have been “so wonderfully accepting and welcoming”.
“I feel like they have just surrounded us with love and are going to take care of us on that day,” she says.
Aneesa adds: “My story is particularly unusual and exceptional, the fact that my family is more interested in supporting me and they see that I’m happy and I’m successful, I have a career and a beautiful fiancée.
“…I’m going to have a happy life, I already have a happy life and for them that is such a source of strength.”
You can watch the teaser clip below.