I have a rather fond spot for India. There is family history here. My mother has a Sanskrit name. She was named after her aunt, who in turn was named after a maharani who was a family friend of my great-grandmother. There is a collection of Hindu god figures which they brought from Madras, (called Chennai since 1996) still in the family.
My great-grandparents lived in the India of the British Raj. They were with the Salvation Army. William Eva, following SA proticol, took the local name “Seenavasagam,” arrived in India August 29, 1887. Jane Saxby (who took the name “Arulai”) arrived December 26, 1890. They were married on Wednesday, March 25, 1891. The Salvation Army newsletter, “The Indian War Cry” of April 13,1891 relates the following:
“On Wednesday evening a very important event in the lives of two officers of the Tamil Division was reached–a wedding; when Capt. Seenavagam, Financial Special, took Lieut. Arulai for his “perpetual companion in the war.”
“The actual ceremony was preceded by an officers’ council, the wedding feast, and the march.
It is hardly necessary to say that the marriage-feast was interesting. Of course it was. Tbe major was present and after the feast called uopon both maried and single officers to speak. Lieut. Chellaya Pillay said: “I was speaking to a high churchman about this wedding and he thought it was very inappropriate for such a joyous celebration as a wedding to take place in Holy Week. I assured him that we Salvationists look upon a wedding ceremony as a very holy thing, and that Holy Week was therefore a very seasonable time to perform it.” This was the feeling that ran through the day’s doing–we believe everything was done “for God.””
The full page article carries on for a bit, describing a procession through the city, provides lyrics to songs sung, how much money was collected, and explains how great-grandpa Seenavasagam accompanied the music on his concertina. (A small accordion like instrument). I am ever thankful to the Salvation Army archivist Gordon Taylor who managed to find this prize for me. How many of us get such a clear description of their great-grandparents’ wedding day? If you noticed the wedding was scarcely three months after Jane’s arrival and were thinking William was a fast worker, as I did initially, you may be relieved to know that I discovered that William had been posted in Stockport prior to his departure for India. Jane was from Stockport. That seemed unlikely to be a coincidence.
I think I looked a little like Great-Grandma Jane in her youth, and I was also married on a Wednesday.
Stay tuned to Grace Awakening Power for some developments which reflect this family history…