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Culture Club: Global Traditions Celebrating Rich Family Heritage Take Center Stage

Lauren Mang

Weddings mean the coming together of two families and often, the coming together of two cultures. On such occasions, more brides and grooms are including cultural traditions in their ceremonies. For Vihangi Hindagolla, who married Alex Jansen at The Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, that meant performing a traditional Sri Lankan lamp lighting ceremony. In the ritual, oil is placed in a tiered lamp and an odd number of wicks are placed in each spout and lit to bring hope, prosperity and happiness. “My family is Sri Lankan, and growing up with this culture has shaped who I’ve become today,” Vihangi says.

Bride Whitney Schouten and groom Sid Venkatachalam held their vibrant Indian wedding at Water Oasis in Newberg, where beneath a mandap swathed in pink and purple fabric and trimmed in roses and carnations, a coconut was presented as a divine offering. “Coconuts are a symbol of prosperity in Hinduism,” says Carisa Smith, owner and event director for Portland’s Adornment Events, which helped coordinate the grand gathering. “The rice sprinkled by the parents on top of the coconut is considered blessing the marriage.”

Georgina Benavides and Boz Menzalji were married at The Oregon Golf Club and shared the groom’s Middle Eastern culture via a henna-decorated wedding cake from Bales Farmington Marketplace and a troupe of belly dancers, with which the bride performed a choreographed dance.
“Only my husband’s parents and brother are here. The rest of his extended family members are in Syria,” says Georgina. “Since they wouldn’t have been able to attend our wedding, I thought it would be special to incorporate Syria into our wedding.”

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