Couples often consult with their religious leader after deciding to get married, but indo-Caribbean priests can literally make or break an engagement. As NY1 looks at Matchmaking in the 21st Century, NY1's Ruschell Boone shows us how many in the Hindu community are paired up.
Odelmo Paltooram and his wife Devika have a great New York story about how they met and fell in love.
"I was going to take a parking spot and she pulled up and took my spot," Odelmo Paltooram.
Unlike many other New Yorkers, though, getting married was not as easy as having a courtship and setting a date.
They are Hindus from Guyana so their pandit, or priest, is the one who ultimately decided if they were a good match.
That decision is based on astrology and numerology and the results often affects family approval.
"If they said no, then we definitely knew we didn't have the support we needed to go forward," Paltooram says.
Paltooram's mother, Ormella Paltooram, also consulted a priest before getting married, but she says the more traditional way is how her parents did it.
The pandit made the match and the arrangements. She has been married for 33 years. Her parents, 62.
"My parents didn't see each other until the Pandit took care of everything first. Then they introduced them," Ormella Paltooram said.
These days, many find a partner and then consult the priest.
Pandit Motiram is a popular matchmaker in Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park.
Armed with the couple's date of birth and other information, he uses an astrological chart and Hindu calendar to see if they are compatible.
"It's like this, let me give an instance, you cannot put a cat and a rat to live in one house," he says.
Here in Richmond Hill, where there is a large Guyanese population, Pandit Motiram says most people will abide by his decision but there are some who are starting to break tradition.
"Some don't care. They look at the glittering face and take things on their own self to do what they want to do," Motiram says.
Motiram believes it's harder for those marriages to succeed, but
on the street, many said these are modern times and things change.
The Paltoorams say the pandits will probably have to adjust with the times, but lucky for them, their union was written in the stars.