Marriage of 2 cultures

Published 2:35 pm Saturday, August 2, 2008

Coriann Kooy and Avashkar Woompath had a very unique wedding Saturday not often seen in Minnesota.

Kooy, the daughter of Russell and Sandy Kooy and a 1995 Austin High School graduate, wedded Woompath, an India native, in a ceremony that literally married two cultures together.

The wedding was a typical American Christian ceremony — Kooy wore a white gown, Woompath wore a suit, and they exchanged vows at a church altar. The bridesmaids, however, wore what Kooy calls “punjabi,” red sheath-like gowns with scarves over pants. Also, the marriage certificate was signed during the wedding.

Email newsletter signup

“Other than that, it’s a Western wedding,” Woompath said.

The couple, however, kept one surprise for the 170 wedding guests — the reception, also at First Baptist Church, would be a traditional Indian party, with cultural music and food. Woompath’s aunt and uncle had brought them Indian wedding attire to change into for the reception. He wore a cream-colored suit and the bride wore an ornately-beaded red gown and jewelry.

During their rehearsal Friday, the couple explained how cultures two worlds apart came together.

Until recently, Kooy served as a missionary at a Baptist church in Durban, South Africa for seven years.

“I was working at Bethany (Baptist Church) doing mostly work with music and teenagers,” she said.

Woompath was a nurse and student at a Bible college.

Though his heritage is Hindu, Woompath speaks only English; Kooy also speaks Zulu. Both are Christian.

“We’ve known each other for a long, long time,” he said.

After the couple decided they wanted to marry, they began the grueling process of attaining a visa.

“She wanted to have it at her church with her family,” Woompath said of the wedding. “We started the paperwork last year in June.”

The couple was concerned the paperwork would not process in time, and were periodically checking its status.

“It all of a sudden got approved online,” Woompath said.

The groom is a student at Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, Pa., where his wife also works. Due to immigration laws, they must live in the U.S. for two years before moving elsewhere, Woompath said.

After that, Kooy said, “Who knows?”