River provides scenic backdrop for special wedding ceremony

The Missouri River has taken a great deal from South Dakotans this year.

Sunday, however, it served a role that was always intended for the people who have chosen to live in the Ponderosa housing development along the rivers banks in southeastern Clay County.

That morning, with the Missouri providing a unique scenic element, Ram Ramakrishnan and Janet Brown exchanged marriage vows in a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony held outdoors near the home of Rams parents, Malathy and Kumoli Ramakrishnan.

The ceremony in such a setting wouldnt have been possible if homeowners in the Ponderosa development hadnt taken action when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was forced to discharge record amounts of water from South Dakotas mainstem dams beginning in late May.

Some who dwell at Ponderosa speculate that the entire development could have been lost including the Ramakrishnan home and surrounding property along the river bank, had the river dwellers not banded together to hire a barge and a backhoe to secure the banks on their side of the river with tons of

A Hindu priest officiates at the wedding ceremony of Ram Ramakrishnan and Janet Brown Sunday. The Missouri River, which is in flood stage throughout much of the Midwest, serves as a fitting scenic element in the background. (Photo by David Lias)

rock last month.

All was peaceful Sunday morning as the ceremony began. Guests and family members were seated under a large tent placed on the Ramakrishnans property that protected them from a light shower that began falling right at about the time the ceremony was scheduled to begin.

Next to the tent was a mandapa, a small canopy, under which Janet and Ram sat as a Hindu priest officiated.

In the background, one couldnt help but observe the Missouri River flowing by. Its record high currents made the channel very visible, and it served as a fitting, beautiful backdrop to Sundays celebration.

Ram, who was born in India, and Janet, who originally is from Sydney, Australia, met about three years ago at a Harvard Business School function in London, England. Both have their MBA degrees; she attended Harvard Business School and he attended Northwestern Business School.

At a reception held the night before the ceremony at the Buffalo Run Winery near Vermillion, both Janet and Ram expressed deep appreciation to the homeowners and their efforts to hold back natures fury earlier this month efforts that ultimately provided a beautiful setting for their wedding.

Both Janet and Ram are especially thankful to be able to exchange vows in the United States, particularly in South Dakota.

Its always been associated as this amazing place, Ram said. Its an America where people know each other by name, where you can leave your car door unlocked, where people are really good people.

Its a place thats close to my heart, and its where your family is. Wherever I go, this is home, he said.

The days festivities concluded with a Scottish reception that reflects Janets ethic background.

Both of my parents have died, and my father was Scottish and my mother was English, she said.

The evening reception included a quaich, a traditional Scottish toast. And my family in Scotland had a special silver quaich made engraved for us for this wedding.

To say that the ceremony included a bit of international flair would be an understatement. People traveled to Vermillion from over a dozen countries from Australia, where Janets stepmother, Diane Brown, resides, to England, France, Wales and Ireland. People also traveled from India, South Africa, Mexico, the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, Turkey, Canada and Columbia.

Sunday morning, Ram wore a kurta and Janet was dressed in a traditional red and gold sari.

In the evening, to represent the joining of the two cultures, Janet said the night before the wedding, I will be wearing another sari and Ram will be wearing a suit but with a lamoet tartan, which is my fathers clans tartan in Scotland.

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