According to Mangalorean tradition, a day before the wedding, relatives and close friends gathered at John’s home for the Roce Ceremony.
Roce is a Konkani word - the language of Goa/Managlore - meaning “coconut milk.” The ceremony begins with singing “Vovieo,” Konkani songs of blessing and prayer for the bride and groom. Then, the guests, starting with the mother and father of the bride and groom, followed by married couples, brothers, sisters, the elders, relatives, and friends, will individually bless the bride and groom, by making the sign of the cross on their foreheads with coconut milk and oil. While doing this the parents say, "Saiba moje dhuvecher/putacher bessanv ghal.” Which means, “Lord, please bless my son [or] daughter.”
The coconut milk symbolizes purity and fertility, and the fact that just as every part of the coconut has a special and functional use, every part and gift and talent of the husband and wife are also sacred. After the Roce Ceremony, we prayed the rosary together, for the intentions of the couple and their marriage. Then the eating, singing, and dancing and lasted until the wee hours of the morning!
Following tradition, I changed into an ethnic red 'sadow' during the reception. This is an Indian dress, which has been blessed and is a gift from the groom's family to the bride. The groom's mother and family help the bride dress, and she makes her second grand entrance to meet her groom, who is eagerly awaiting her arrival.
I wore a white wedding gown for the wedding ceremony. John’s family is also Catholic, so the white wedding garment is also traditional for the bride. The gown was designed by Alfred Angelo. My father's name is Alfred and my grandfather's is Angelo, so it seemed quite appropriate. My mother also wore an Alfred Angelo on her wedding day in 1971.
Before we left for the church, parents and the entire family blessed us separately so that we might carry our families' blessings as we entered into marriage.
My mom has gave me to carry on my wedding day, the Irish handkerchief that her father, Paul Edward, brought for her from Ireland in 1970. It's made of crisp white Irish linen, trimmed in lace. My mom carried it on her wedding day in 1971, in honor of her father. I carried this same Irish handkerchief in honor of my mother and my Irish heritage.
The wedding set that I wear once belonged to my paternal Grandmother. In 1938 my grandfather, Angelo Puglia, got on his knee and proposed to Giovanna D'Alessandro. He had fallen in love with her at first sight during the St. Thérèse de Lisieux Annual Lawn Fete, which she'd organized. He threw popcorn at her to get her attention. The two enjoyed 63 wonderful years of marriage, and both passed away in 2002, within months of each other. My grandma’s engagement ring and wedding band were given as a gift to John and me by my dad and mom, and my Uncle Joe and Aunt Kaitzer. These rings will forever be a special reminder of the love of our families united.
John's wedding ring is in the shape of a crown of thorns, the greatest symbol of love.
As I processed down the aisle, the choir beautifully sang the "Litany of the Saints" invoking the intercession of all saints, from the very beginning of our marriage. The lovely choir sang the hymn, "On This Day O Beautiful Mother," which was sung at another special wedding in 1939, as my Grandmother Giovanna Puglia walked down the aisle. Auntie Joan sang "The Magnificat," echoing Luke 1 and Carlton sang "Panis Angelicus." At the last minute, Maya Mascarenhas saved the day and played the organ when Auntie Francie fell sick. We were blown away by the ethereal sounds of the choir. Such beauty & love! Many thanks to Auntie Louise for her hard work.
While visiting relatives in California, my Aunt Kaitzer and Uncle Joe presented me with the cake topper that was used on their wedding cake. When they were engaged, Kaitzer wanted to have a topper where the bride’s hair was brown, like her own. She couldn’t find one anywhere. My Grandparents Puglia sent Kaitzer the topper that they'd placed on their own wedding cake in 1939. My Grandparents had ordered it from New York, and after writing their names and wedding date on the base, displayed it as decoration in their New York and Uniontown, PA apartments. After their own wedding, Kaitzer and Joe lovingly displayed the cake topper in their home. Now it has been passed on to me, and was passed on to my brother Steven when he married.
Family & Friends
We enjoyed the tradition that after the wedding day, the couple would spend the next few days visiting the homes of friends and family and being spoiled by their warm hospitality! After three months in India, we returned to the US and visited family and friends throughout the country. What a wonderful and blessed celebration!