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Siddhartha Theodorus (Tatsat) Omaid-Mehmi, nattily dressed in shirt, vest sweater, and bow tie, lies back in his pram, maybe not quite taking it all in.

With a bare three months’experience of the world, Siddhartha could be having a hard time figuring out how he got here - the coffee hour hubbub amplified by celebratory samosas and cake, the congratulations to his parents from complete strangers, and, most of all, the blessing that Christ Church Cathedral’s (CCC) vicar, the Rev. Areeta Bridgemohan and the congregation have just bestowed on him.


His aunt, CCC parishioner, Pamela Mehmi, as the only baptized Christian in her Indo-Canadian, Buddhist-Hindu family, is a little overwhelmed herself. Days later, she reflects:“It was just one of the happiest, most joyous days of my life . . . it was amazing to have my biological family and my church family – both worlds – coming together.”  

The November 6 All Saints Day post-service party was unimagined back on Sunday, July 31, when Pamela went for healing prayer for her sister, Rita, during the CCC service. Rita was in her third day of labour at St. Paul’s Hospital with her first child, and the first baby among the three Mehmi sisters. Looking back now, “it was a bit scary,” Rita says.

As that July service ended, Pamela introduced herself and her story to Areeta who at that time was just two-and-a-half weeks into her new ministry as CCC’s vicar.

Areeta was pregnant herself with her second child (due Nov. 25), with sharp memories of her own first difficult delivery in July, 2020.  Like Rita, she would give birth to her family’s first grandchild, a boy, Kiran. Like Rita’s husband, Shaun Omaid, her family is Indo-Guyanese. Like Pamela, she is a Christian in a predominately Hindu family.

The news of Siddhartha’s safe delivery came through early that afternoon. And Areeta was ready when Pamela came to her the next week.

This new life is just such a blessing, Pamela told her, after two years of loss piled on loss – the sisters' father, uncle, grandfather, and, finally, Pamela’s well-loved elderly dog, all dying during the dark pandemic days.

Areeta could hear the yearning.“She really wanted to embrace Siddhartha and Rita and Shaun in the love of God.”

Pamela knew the day she entered CCC in January, 2016 that she was home.“It was love at first sight,” she says, with her baptism coming only months later at the 2016 Easter Vigil.

A baptism for her nephew in the place that means so much to her wasn’t possible but, still, “I wish there was something I could do,” she told Areeta.

There is, Areeta answered, pointing her to the“Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child” in the Book of Alternative Services.  It also includes a prayer of thanksgiving for a mother’s safe passage through pregnancy and childbirth.“That meant a lot to me as well,” Pamela says.

Rita, a Buddhist, and Shaun, a Hindu, said an unqualified yes to the proposal. “For me, it wasn’t even a question of whether we should or shouldn’t,” Rita says.“All bridges lead to the same source of universal energy and love.”

Pamela remembers this part a bit differently.“They were for it right off the bat,” she says.“But Rita kept saying, ‘Do they know we’re not Christian?’  She must have asked three or four times and then I got worried and I asked Areeta and she said, ‘Oh, that’s okay.’”

Areeta did have one question for her non-Christian family – several of the service prayers end with “through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Could they say those words with sincerity?

“It wasn’t an issue for me,” says Shaun.“In Hinduism, you respect all gods and goddesses. For most Hindus, Jesus would be accepted as a divine being.”

Areeta says her own grandmother, a follower of Krishna, thinks much the same way.“This gets to how we conceive of God,” she says,“how expansive our idea of God can be.”

When it all came togetherthe Feast of All Saints, there was Areeta, 37 weeks pregnant, looking toward her own delivery, and wearing a blue cope with the image of Mary, pointing toward Advent and the Christmas birth of Jesus.

After the necrology and the Kontakion, then the blessing.“It was such an incredible honour,” Areeta says “The service was the holding together of life and death which is the reality of the human condition.”  

Siddhartha’s carefully chosen names – Siddhartha, for the Buddha, meaning ‘he accomplishes his goals’; Theodorus, reflecting his Western heritage; and Tatsat, his private Hindu name - ‘that which is true’ - charted his path of blessings.

Before he got to CCC, Siddhartha had already visited the Buddhist Vihara Society-run monastery in Surrey for a blessing from the monks. Then his paternal grandmother held a Hindu puja for him in her home. 

Finally, after his Anglican blessing, attended by his grandmothers, aunts Pamela and Savita, an uncle, and cousins, his maternal grandmother took him to the Shri Guru Ravidass Temple in Burnaby. 

That puts Rita in a good position to make comparisons. Despite her new-mom sleep-deprived state, she could feel the power of CCC’s Christian blessing.

“The reception we received was just so warm and welcoming,” she says.“The energy being channeled through the priest was the same as at the Buddhist monastery and the Hindu puja . . . it’s just a beautiful thing.”

IMAGES (in top scroll)

  • Rita, Shaun and Siddhartha at the Shri Guru Ravidass Temple in Burnaby
  • The Cathedral's vicar, the Reverend Areeta Bridgemohan, Siddhartha, and aunt Pamela Mehmi.
  • Rita, Shaun, Siddhartha, and Pandit Dan at the Hindu puja
  • Siddhartha's blessing at the Buddhist Vihara Society's Surrey monastery, with the Venerable Siriniwasa.
  • Shaun Omaid, Rita Mehmi, and Siddhartha at CCC on Nov. 6

(in the body copy)

  • The blessed baby, dressed for the occasion
  • The coffee hour cake

Photos: Submitted