The sole celibate of Garmaur Satra, a 360-year-old Vaishnavite monastery in Majuli island in the heart of the Brahmaputra, got married on Tuesday.
The family of the bride can’t say how Haridev Goswami, who became a monk at the age of 23 in 1984 and embraced celibacy four years later on becoming the satradhikar (the head), found her. But Goswami has talked about dreaming, several times, of previous satradhikar Pitambardev Goswami asking him to get married.
Bride Mrinalini, a Masters in Political Science from Dibrugarh University and the youngest of seven siblings, doesn’t want to talk about her “private affairs”. However, she has said she too had decided to remain a spinster after becoming a devotee of Shiva in college. “I spent most of my time at the Shiva temple in our house,” she said.
“It was about two months ago that we saw on TV that the satradhikar had decided to get married. Then we got a call that he was heading to our house (in Bamungaon) to seek the hand of our sister Anju (Mrinalini’s pet name),” said her elder brother Pramod Khataniar.
Haridev told the family about his dream, repeating what he had told fellow monks at the satra and devotees on March 15.
Haridev will now move to Garamur Saru Satra, a smaller monastery close to the original one in Majuli, where he will live in a guest-house with Mrinalini from Thursday.
His followers there have organised a public reception for the newlyweds, issuing advertisements in local newspapers inviting people to join the celebrations.
On March 25, when the satradhikar arrived at Mrinalini’s house seeking her hand in marriage, she initially said no. He urged her to think it over, and after a couple of hours, she agreed.
“Don’t ask me anything more. It is my private life, and I think I have taken the right decision,” she told The Indian Express. “After she completed her MA, we wanted to marry her off. But she said she would remain unmarried and dedicate her life to Shiva,” said her sister-in-law Sanhita Sarmah, who teaches statistics at Jorhat Central College.
In the Garmaur Satra, it’s only the satradhikar who maintains celibacy while other monks get married. This tradition came into place after Pitambardev Goswami, back in 1915, entered family life despite resistance from the Satra followers.
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