The wedding issue was keeping us pretty busy. Which papers would we need? Baba actually did not have any but an Ashram I.D. He left his home at the age of eleven and had not returned there since; who cares about papers when you are only eleven years old and run away from home?
Would that be enough to get married at least in the temple? A spiritual marriage is as valid as a court marriage for life in society, but not for legal matters. The first one would already be enough for now.
We were so busy, that we did not find time anymore to sit and talk to the travelers who stayed in the same guesthouse and all the things India-travelers usually do, passed me by unnoticed.
Then One day, the lawyer showed up. He was in his early forties and looked like the average Indian of his age. He was short and pot-bellied with gold-framed glasses and wore his oiled hair side parted. He seemed friendly and I had the impression that he was an honest person; in the end he was a friend’s friend.
We sat down and words that sounded like English were bubbling out of his mouth while he was rolling a joint. Somehow I barely understood a quarter of what he was trying to say. I caught that he had married a mixed couple before and asked me if it would be a problem for me to convert to Hinduism, which would make things much easier.
I did not have any problem with that. There is only one god and I think that he or she doesn’t care too much in which way you try to approach him or her. I never was a much practising Christian and maybe I even knew a bit more about Hinduism than I did about Christian religion.
“This good” said the lawyer “Then you only need Hindu name for conversion certificate”
“Cool!” I thought “I would get to choose a new name for myself! How many times in your life you get a chance like that?”
Right away female Hindu names I heard before and liked rushed through my mind. I wanted one with a really nice meaning that suited me.
All of a sudden something strange happened inside my mind; the entire situation seemed totally abstract. At that precise moment I had the sensation to be swimming in the shallow water near the ocean shore, but when I tried to touch the ground with my feet, I realized that there was an immense nothingness underneath me.
I came back to my senses when Vijay showed up shouting happily
“Uma! Uma is a good name!”
“No way! Uma sounds like Oma, which means grandmother in German!” I replied harshly.
The lawyer turned to me and said something like “You still have much time. No hurry, chicken curry!” Then he lit another spliff and off he drove on his rattling scooter that looked older than dirt.
Three days later the lawyer called Baba on his cellphone. The news was that we had to show up the next day in the court in Haridwar to sign the conversion certificate.
“Oh, then I have to choose my Hindu name today” I said
“No. Lawyer already putting Uma on the paper” answered Baba
Sometimes life just takes decisions for you…
In the end I have to say that Uma really is a cool name. She is one aspect of the goddess Parvati, who is Shiva’s consort.
A story tells that Parvati finally got tired of being ignored by her husband, who dwelled in constant meditation. She left her home to become a wandering hermit and practiced such harsh self-denial, that eventually Shiva, god of ascetics, received her as his most devoted worshipper and they were reconciled.
Her name is said to have been given to her by her mother, who upon learning of Parvati’s plan to practice extreme self-denial, cried out, “U! Ma!” which means “Oh! Don’t!”
I guess my mother would have said something similar if she knew about my wedding plans!
Uma was actually the perfect name for me!
- Baba’s Story (himalayacakes.wordpress.com)