Hare Krishna Wedding 1984


New York Post, Thursday, December 27, 1984 

Krishna wedding for Henry's great-grandson


Post Wire Services 

SYDNEY - Alfred Ford, great-grandson of auto magnate Henry Ford, married Australian doctor Sharmilla Bhattacarya yesterday in a colorful Hare Krishna "fire sacrifice" ceremony.

The couple, both devout members of the cult, exchanged vows in front of 500 people at the Hare Krishnas' Bhaktivedanta Asram settlement.

The fire sacrifice is a 5000-year-old ceremony in which the couple solemnify their marriage vows by offering grains to the fire, which represents the deities of Lord Krishna.

The wedding was performed by Rhavananda Goswami Srila Vishnutada, spiritual leader of Hare Krishnas in Australia and New Zealand.

Vishnutada described the marriage as a personification of Indian culture and Western wealth.

"Western culture is like a blind man," he said. "India has a great culture but not wealth. This marriage between Indian culture and Western wealth will create the perfect existence."

Ford, 34, one of the heirs to the vast Ford fortune, has been a Hare Krishna adherent for 10 years.

He met his bride two years ago while on a visit to Australia to oversee the development of a Krishna cultural center.

He said he had been looking for a new way of life before joining the Hare Krishnas.

"The Hare Krishna movement seemed the only one to offer a God and a good lifestyle," Ford said. "Everything is used to serve God."

He is now a vegetarian and does not drink alcohol, smoke or gamble. He studies 200 volumes of Krishna texts regularly, goes to bed and gets up early and chants the Hare Krishna mantra two hours a day.

Ford currently serves as cultural affairs minister for the Hare Krishnas and has no connection to the Ford Motor Co.

No members of the Ford family were present at the wedding, although Ford said they approved of the marriage.

Sharmilla Bhattacarya, 29, was born in India and is currently a Ph.D. honors student in medicine at the University of New South Wales.

After a honeymoon in Australia, Ford and his bride will fly back to the United States.

Ford said he was sure his great-grandfather Henry Ford would have approved of the marriage.

"He was into a vegetarian lifestyle and reincarnation - and a Krishna believes in this," he said.