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Choices matter

A couple from India says people should not wait for good things to come but rather work towards them diligently

Two hands with henna holding rings.
Priyanka Gubbala says, “Being sealed brought me two gifts. One is being sealed for all time and eternity with my best friend and the other is having our child in my womb to be part of this beautiful family sealing.”
Photo by Yui Leung

Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala, a newly married freshman from Andhra Pradesh, India, majoring in information technology, said being sealed to his wife in the temple is a blessing and a miracle. “I wanted to get sealed in the Salt Lake Temple but my bishop strongly encouraged me to get sealed as soon as possible since my wife was pregnant.”

Priyanka Gubbala from Chennai, India, and wife of Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala, said, “Being sealed brought me two gifts. One is being sealed for all time and eternity with my best friend, and the other is having our child in my womb to be part of this beautiful family sealing.” She explained the excitement comes from the perfect timing for the long-awaited ordinances after their marriage in India.

Dating life

“I was 21 months into my mission when I met my wife, who was a member in the area, but she was going to another ward. My companion and I reached out to her and her family and [invited] them to move back,” said Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala. He said he was transferred to another area afterward.

He said they started texting after his mission, and after expressing his love to her, he recalled their meeting at a Young Single Adult (YSA) convention where he worked up the courage and kissed her.

“We dated for three years and finally tied the knot on Dec.18, 2020,” said Priyanka Gubbala. She said she started working at a hospital in Chennai, but Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala was working in Andhra Pradesh. “I was concerned she was going to stay alone in the hostel for her work. So I resigned from my job and shifted to Chennai. I left my job, family and friends just for her,” said Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala.

He said after a month of struggling to find a job, he was hired at a call center working nights. “Weekends were our days to go out on dates,” said Priyanka Gubbala. Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala explained he would finish his night shift at 3 a.m., have breakfast on the go and ride his bike to her hostel at 6 a.m. Priyanka Gubbala recalled Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala bringing her to restaurants, going on rides and spending as much time together as possible.

“In India, it is important to receive blessings and approval for relationships from parents. With fear, I did not tell my mother about our relationship. It was stressful to lie,” said Priyanka Gubbala. She added her father passed before she was old enough to remember him, which was why her mother was protective. “[My mother] never found out until I told her,” she said.

After two and a half years, Priyanka Gubbala revealed it to her mother. “My mother was fearful of who he was, but finally she [approved] our marriage,” she said. To avoid being a burden to their families, she and Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala said they saved up for their wedding. “In India, wedding dowry is traditionally gifted by the bride’s family, but I want nothing but Priyanka,” he said.

A couple wearing traditional Indian clothes.
Indian weddings go on for a week, according to Priyanka Gubbala, but they limited their ceremonies to three days because of the pandemic at that time.
Photo by Yui Leung

Indian wedding ceremony

Priyanka Gubbala explained Indian weddings go on for a week, but they limited the ceremonies to three days, due to it being during the pandemic.

They said the first ceremony was Nalangu where the bride and groom sit on a wooden plank and have the elders in their families do an aarti, a Hindu ceremony, Priyanka Gubbala said, in which lights with wicks soaked in ghee are lit and offered up to them and mango leaves soaked of lime water mixed with turmeric to ward off evil.

The second ceremony was Mehndi, she said, and for this ceremony, she had henna drawn on her hands to wish her health and prosperity in her marriage. Wikipedia says, Mehndi, also known as henna, is an important part of Indian weddings and is considered a highly auspicious and significant ceremony. Mehndi is a form of temporary skin decoration made using henna paste, which is applied to the hands and feet of the bride and other female members of the family.

It is a symbol of good luck and prosperity. The darker the color of the mehndi, the stronger the belief in the blessings it will bring, says Wikipedia. Priyanka Gubbala said they spent the day before the wedding for a pre-wedding photoshoot and on the wedding day, they exchanged rings and Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala tied a gold chain with mangalsutra onto Priyanka’s neck.

The New York Times explained the mangalsutra is a sacred necklace worn by the bride, and it holds significant importance in Hindu culture. The word "mangalsutra" is derived from two Sanskrit words, "mangal" and "sutra," which together mean "an auspicious thread.”

It is a symbol of marriage, Wikipedia explained. The website said mangalsutra represents the bond of marriage between the bride and the groom. According to Wikipedia, it is believed that the groom ties the mangalsutra around the bride's neck to signify that they are now husband and wife. The design and style of the mangalsutra vary depending on the region and the customs followed by the family. However, the common thread that runs through all mangalsutras is their significance as a symbol of love, commitment, and lifelong partnership, said Wikipedia.

A couple standing in front of the Laie temple on their wedding day.
Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala and Priyanka Gubbala were dating for three years and got married on December 18, 2020.
Photo by Yui Leung

Choices after married life

“Ever since I was 19, I had a dream to attend BYU–Hawaii, but I could not, financially,” said Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala. He said he once applied for BYUH in 2018 but did not pass the English proficiency test. He tried again but said he felt disappointed because he failed the test. “My dreams and goals were shattered and it broke me into pieces,” he said.

“After the wedding, we did not have enough money so we started saving up. After a few months, [Priyanka Gubbala] encouraged me to apply for BYUH again,” said Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala. He said he passed his tests, got admitted and even got an approval for the visa. He said, “All the paperwork got approved. … She is indeed a miracle in my life. Life without her would be miserable.”

Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala said they struggled financially upon arriving at BYUH. He explained paying the security deposit for TVA left them penniless. He said he felt lost, but a friend in India offered to help him apply for a personal loan that was approved immediately, and they received it within three days. “Life has been miraculous ever since we got to Hawaii,” he said.

“God loves effort, and He would not leave us alone,” said Priyanka Gubbala. She explained her motivating her husband helped him move forward. “I never thought I would be pregnant when I got sealed. Also, I got endowed here in the Laie temple,” said Priyanka. She recalled the bishop who encouraged them to be sealed in the temple, shared a General Conference talk and told them it is better to not prolong good things.

Aaron Shumway, the director and associate professor in the Faculty of Religious Education and the couple’s bishop, said couples should receive temple ordinances as soon as they find the right person and at the right time. “The spirit of prophecy surrounding the temple is powerful. Sealing is the highest and holiest ordinance we perform in the temple,” Shumway said. He added it is more important to focus on receiving ordinances than celebrations.

When asked about his experience in Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala and Priyanka Gubbala’s sealing, he said, “It is beyond words. … They loved each other, and they were staring at each other. It was a magical moment.”

He continued, “They did not grow up like most members of the church, but the ancestors were cheering for them and their children who will be born in the covenant. It is a big deal when you think about the eternal significance of what is happening. It’s about the preparation of the husband and wife to make and keep sacred covenants and how they are bonding is much more important.”

Priyanka Gubbala said she has always dreamt of being sealed in the temple since she did not have the opportunity to do so with her family. Sealing became her favorite ordinance and brought differences in her married life, such as staying calm when she was angry, she explained.

Naga Sai Kiran Gubbala said he was in tears during their sealing as it was a spiritual yet sacred experience when he was united with his wife for all eternity. “We do not want to see [our child] struggle as we did. We want to give [my family] the best by being a role model as a father and a husband,” he said.