Humpy’s spectacular Indian wedding

by Sagar Shah
9/8/2014 – Marriage in Europe or America can be lavish, but we cannot compete with the beauty and tradition of an Indian wedding. Recently the third strongest female chess player in history, Humpy Koneru, tied the knot in a wonderfully colorful ceremony. Sagar Shah, who celebrated his own wedding earlier this year, describes the traditions and practices. Congrats to Humpy and Anvesh!

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Humpy’s spectacular Indian wedding

By Sagar Shah

Chess has always been a male dominated game. During its rich history, which spans across two centuries, there have been only a handful of women who have dared to compete with men on equal terms. One such brave heart is the amazingly talented Indian super-star Humpy Koneru.

At 2598, Humpy is ranked number three in the world women’s chess

Humpy’s achievements have been mind boggling. Born in 1987, she became the world under-14 champion in 2001. Astonishingly, in the same year she also became the World Junior Girls champion at the tender age of 14 years. She broke Judit Polgar’s record by becoming the youngest woman ever to achieve the grandmaster title, at 15 years 1 month and 27 days. (This was subsequently broken by Hou Yifan). She has been a World Championship finalist, and in 2007, she was the second woman after Judit Polgar to break into the 2600 league. Of course, Humpy is a big name not only in Indian chess circles but the world over.

Humpy’s accomplishments in her professional career have been prolific. But on the 13th of August 2014, she was able to achieve a wonderful milestone in her personal life: she married Anvesh Dasari.

Anvesh Dasari is the Project Director (R&D) of Effectronics private limited,
a company in which his father Ramakrishna Dasari is the CEO

It all started in early 2014, when one of the common relatives of the two families came up with the idea of an association between Humpy and Anvesh. This relative went to meet Humpy’s father, then Ashok Koneru approached Anvesh. There seemed to be a lot of synergy between the families. That’s how Anvesh describes the embryonic steps in the relationship. The families were happy and they set up a meeting between Humpy and Anvesh. In Anvesh’s words, it was the simplicity and understanding nature of Humpy that won his heart. He knew that she was a very famous chess player, but her behavior was very normal and down to earth! They both spoke to each other a few more times on the phone and everything just clicked!

In May 2014, the beautiful couple was engaged to each other

It was decided that the marriage should take place on the 13th of August 2014. It is pretty usual for Indians to have quite an elaborate wedding ceremony. A day prior to it, the preparations began in the respective houses.

Anvesh with his family members who have applied ‘haldi’ (turmeric) all over him. It is believed
that the turmeric softens the skin and makes the protagonist look better on his big day!

This is not an ice bucket challenge – they're washing away the turmeric!

The couple lighting a sky lantern, which was the idea of Humpy’s sister Chandra Hawsa.
Humpy is wearing a yellow saree for the launch.

The wedding ceremony was to begin in the night at 00.30 hrs at the A Convention Centre in Vijaywada. As all the guests could not stay so late, there was a reception at 7 p.m. onwards. And can you guess the number of people who attended this reception? More than 5000 people!

Anvesh with his parents, Ramakrishna and Sridevi Dasari and Humpy with hers, Ashok and Latha Koneru

The beautiful decorations in the hall where the marriage ceremony took place

Humpy enters the hall wearing a red saree and holding a coconut that has Lord Ganesha engraved on it, in her hand. The coconut plays a vital role in all puja rituals. It is sacred, pure, clean and health giving, endowed with several properties.

Humpy performing the Gauri puja with her parents. In this puja, the bride offers prayers to the goddess Gauri, seeking her blessings for greater prosperity in life as well as a long and happy marriage with her husband. On the left is her father Ashok, who has been Humpy's chess coach since childhood.

Finally, the bride and bridegroom are together to begin the ceremony during which a pink cloth stops them from looking at each other. It was a tradition in ancient India that the couple must not see each other a few days prior to the marriage. While nowadays, people no longer follow this, it is still a part of the ceremony. The cloth prevents them from seeing each other only for a few minutes. Anvesh holds the coconut which is being given to him by Humpy’s parents.

This ritual is known as ‘Kanyadaan’, which literally means 'gifting a girl'. This signifies that the father gives away his daughter to the groom as part of his duty as a parent. This is the moment when the girl is considered to have been separated from her maiden family and is incorporated in the family of her husband. Kanyadaan is often referred to as the maha daan or a great donation. This is because the father has to give away his most precious possession.

Finally the obstacle between them is removed and the two are happy to see each other again!

The final part of the wedding as Humpy changes into a white and gold saree

Anvesh applies Sindoor, a red-orange coloured powder, on Humpy’s forehead.
Use of it denotes that a woman is married in Hindu traditions.

Tying the mangala sutra (from the Sanskrit mangal, meaning holy or auspicious, and sutra meaning thread). It is a sacred necklace that a groom wraps around the bride's neck, which identifies her as a married woman.

After tying the mangala sutra the bride and groom shower one another with “talambralu”, which is rice mixed with saffron and turmeric. This denotes the couple’s desire for happiness, enjoyment and contentment.

Initially they take turns to shower the rice, but after a while
the bride and groom begin to compete with each other...

... making for some entertaining and happy photos

Another game at the wedding: the elegant pot contains coloured water. Two rings, one made of gold and other of silver are immersed in the pot and cannot be seen. The couple have to get hold of the rings and bring them out: the one who has the golden ring is the winner. This match is a best of three. The first round was won by Anvesh. Humpy, true to her tenacious self, struck back in the second round. But Anvesh turned out to be the better player as he won the final round, thus sealing the match in his favour 2-1. This is the last time Anvesh will ever win against his wife at anything! Experienced married men will agree with me on this!

Anvesh shows Humpy a star called Arundhati, who is considered to be
the ideal wife. Humpy who wishes to be like her seeks her blessings!

On the 17th of August 2014 evening a reception was held at the Seshasai Kalyan Mandapam, Vijayawada. Nearly 2500 people attended the wedding, and many prominent Indian chess players were present there.

The two families are extremely happy with the alliance! Next to Humpy’s parents, in a green and yellow saree, is her sister Chandra Hawsa, who was a very strong chess player with an Elo 2217. She no longer plays competitive chess.

Two gems of Indian chess: Humpy and Harika! On Twitter Harika
wrote: “With my strongest competitor over the board on her special”

Chess players having great fun at the wedding. Left to right: Lalith Babu, who was a member of the Indian bronze winning team at the Tromso Olympiad, Abhijit Kunte, one of the Indian chess stalwarts, second strongest Indian female player Dronavalli Harika and former world Junior Champion Soumya Swaminathan.

It was a great pleasure to speak with Humpy’s husband Anvesh and get to know all the details surrounding the wedding. He is a wonderful person who patiently answered all my questions and queries. He is not a pro at the game of chess but he knows how the pieces move. Anvesh assured all the chess fans of Humpy that he will be totally backing her chess career post marriage. Though he cannot help her with the technical stuff related to chess, Humpy will have his complete mental and emotional support.

The couple haven’t been able to go on a honeymoon as Humpy was participating in the Sharjah Women’s Grand Prix. But Anvesh is not complaining. He is just happy that the love of his life is following her dream of becoming the strongest female chess player in the world.

ChessBase along with its readers wish Anvesh and Humpy a long, happy and fulfilling married life.

Indian chess weddings

It is very expedient that Sagar Shah should write this article – he went through a similar
ceremony earlier this year. Read part one and part two of his own wedding report.

And in July 1996 Frederic Friedel attended the marriage of another famous chess player,
whom you may recognize in the picture above. You can read about that wedding here.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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