Three decades later, marriage vows in Gulmarg church

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Srinagar

After almost three decades a marriage has taken place in the historic Gulmarg Church. The Indian Express that broke the story said it was an Australian couple in Indian wedding attire; as dozens of foreign skiers wearing Kashmiri Pherans were the guests, and local priests and snow all around. The ceremony concluded with Kashmiri music and food followed in the evening.

Tim Robertson and Kate Hamilton. Pic:: Twitter

According to a report published by The Indian Express, this was the wedding of Australians Tim Robertson and Kate Hamilton Thursday at St Mary’s church in Gulmarg. It was the first in over three decades at Kashmir’s oldest Protestant Church.

Engaged for a year and fond of snowboarding, it took the couple six months to plan the wedding in Gulmarg. “That day (last year), we were snowboarding back home and we decided to get married. But then Kate wanted a white wedding and in the mountains,” The Indian Express quoted Tim as having said. A friend of Kate’s who organises skiing trips to Kashmir was roped in and a year later, their wish was fulfilled.

But until Thursday afternoon, minutes before the ceremony the couple walked to the church as heavy snow swirled all around. “Until the last moment, we were not sure that things will happen smoothly. We were surprised to see the skiers at our wedding. I don’t think we could have done this ceremony the way it happened here at any other place. I am speechless,” the report quoted Kate as having said.

“The couple also had a backup plan if the local priests did not turn up – exchange rings with each other. Despite the heavy snowfall in the Valley, however, two priests from Srinagar travelled to Gulmarg to perform the wedding,” it said.

Rev. Vinu Kaul (Associated Priest), one of the priests told The Indian Express that it was an “emotional” ceremony for him. “This church is like 100 years old and our sentiments are associated with this church. So when I came to know that a marriage is going to be held in Gulmarg, I was very happy,” he said. “It was the first such ceremony since 1990.”

“I was also unwell. But, despite all that, I decided to go to Gulmarg. Because it was for the first time in my life, that marriage was held at Gulmarg, I didn’t want it to miss at any cost,” he said.

At the church, were mostly fellow skiers and for many at the ski resort, it was a different event to attend. “Everyone was so excited. When I found out that a wedding is happening here, we started preparations immediately. By afternoon, the couple came and the ceremony was held,” The Indian Express quoted Mohammed Yousuf, caretaker of the Church as having said. “It was a new thing for me. In my 15 years here, I only witness people visiting the church during Christmas.”

Tim Robertson and Kate Hamilton with their guests during the wedding at Gulmarg. Pic: Twitter

The report quoted Khaver Jeelani, Managing Director of Hotel Highlands Park Gulmarg, who organized the function for the couple as saying that the first wedding at Gulmarg in his lifetime, will definitely send positive news outside. “When I received the news six months ago that they want to marry in Gulmarg, for a moment I thought it might not be possible. But, it went very well and I am happy. It will send positive news outside and a message that Kashmir is always safe for tourists,” he said.

The couple shares that how the hospitality and warmness from the Kashmir people will bring them again to this place. “We will definitely come again here next time because this place is amazing. We have now so much of memories with this place,” the report quoted Tim as having said.

J-K Tourism Department officials say that the event is “of great importance”. “Destination marriage happening here after a long time is great news for everyone in Gulmarg…” The Indian Express quoted Nasir Mehmood, Tourism department’s senior official at Gulmarg as having said.

Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah congratulated the couple for their marriage.

Taking to social networking site Twitter, Omar wrote: “30 years since the last one, Gulmarg’s historic church plays host to another wedding. Congratulations to Kate & Tim. Here’s wishing you both a lifetime of happiness.”

“More from Kate & Tim’s Gulmarg wedding. A destination wedding with a difference. Nice to see some of the wedding party on skis,” Omar tweeted.

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