This lesbian couple took the internet by storm with their unique ‘commitment ring ceremony’ in Nagpur. Doctors Paromita Mukherjee and Surabhi Mitra give us a peek into their lives, wedding plans, the importance of travel in their life, and more. By Srushti Kulkarni
T+L India: How did you meet?
Surabhi Mitra: In 2020 I visited Kolkata to attend a mental health CME (continued medical education) where I was the speaker and Paromita was in the audience. At the end of the event, she walked up to me and said that she would like to discuss more about mental health with me. We exchanged our Instagram handles and began with texts and calls at first, which eventually progressed into frequent video calls. Our bond grew and transitioned into friendship.
One fine day my phone broke and it remained switched off for a week. The moment I transferred the SIM card into my new device, it was flooded with her messages and missed calls. That’s when I realised that our friendship had developed into something more than just mere liking. Later, we planned a trip along with our friends to visit one of the beaches. Amidst the planning she asked me “if I propose to you on the beach will you say no?” I said I will say yes. And that’s how we happened.
T+L India: What does travel mean to you both?
Surabhi and Paromita: When we decided to propose to each other, we imagined it would be on a beach since that’s our favourite place. Although the trip didn’t happen, we ended up learning about each other’s travel tastes and we found out that we have a lot in common. Be it cuisines or destinations, we were happy to realise that we want to experience similar things in life. One of our couple goals is to take a two weeks’ vacation every six months and travel the world with each other.
T+L India: What are your earliest memories of travelling?
Paromita Mukherjee: My parents and I took our very first elaborate vacation to Kashmir for about 15 days where I fell in love with the beauty of the mountains and the roadside dhabas. Apart from that I really haven’t travelled much which is why I want to travel now with Surabhi.
Surabhi Mitra: I have travelled quite a lot. Besides some parts of Odisha, Gujarat, and the seven sisters, I have almost covered every part of India. My earliest memories are savouring the local cuisine, road tripping by the coastlines, and venturing into jungles and mountains.
T+L India: What kind of travellers are you? How do you settle differences of opinions while travelling?
Surabhi and Paromita: We prefer journey over destination. We believe in experiencing the smallest of joys that travel brings us. We are more into backpacking and trekking where we can experience the true essence of every place we visit.
We laugh at our differences but if it’s something serious then we sit down and reach a middle ground.
T+L India: Were there a lot of cultural differences to handle, since one of you is from Nagpur and the other a Bengali?
Surabhi Mitra: Not at all. My dad hails from Bengal but my mother is a Maharashtrian which makes me half-Bengali. Therefore, I have grown up around Bengalis and I am more Bengali in nature than she is. Although, Paromita was struck with language barriers when she came to Nagpur and it has been little tricky for her to catch up with the application of right gender for everything.
T+L India: The Wildernest Resort nestled in the laps of nature in Nagpur seemed like a fairy-tale setting to say yes! What was the special reason behind choosing this location for a proposal? Did you face any hurdles in booking the place?
Surabhi and Paromita: Our friends were overjoyed when they heard about the proposal and so were our parents. Everyone then suggested that we celebrate the news together instead of exchanging rings on the sea shore. One thing led to another and our engagement turned into a commitment ceremony.
Paromita Mukherjee: We choose Nagpur for our first ceremony because that’s where Surabhi was born and brought up. Surabhi would turn 30 on January 1 and I chose the eve of 29th December to host the party to signify her transition from 29 to 30.
Surabhi Mitra: After we decided to hold the ceremony in Nagpur, I contacted an event planner to take care of the arrangements. I asked her to communicate with queer friendly properties whose names I had attained from the LGBTQ community of Nagpur. To my surprise, my event manager told me that there is no need of specific properties as none of the hotels contacted so far raised an objection. They were in fact happy to host us and be a part of our historical event. The hoteliers were glad to take up this opportunity to help spread awareness of accepting the LGBTQ community.
T+L India: We heard you guys are planning to tie the knot in Goa! Can you give us a peek into your dreamy wedding plans?
Surabhi and Paromita: We are planning a big, fat, sea-side destination wedding. The ring ceremony alone had over 200 attendees. After the pictures of the event went viral, we received numerous calls from our friends and relatives who knew nothing about our lifetime commitment. They were mad at us for not inviting them while we assumed them to be conservative. Now our guest list has grown to a range that it cannot be an intimate wedding anymore.
The wedding will have a very gender-neutral theme with both Indo- western traditions. There will be sindoor daan, a post-wedding toast, a rainbow ceremony, and much more.
According to traditions, the groom usually takes one phera more and we want to divide the pheras equally where both of us will take three-and-half pheras each. I think we will keep the rest of our ideas for the audience to anticipate.
T+L India: Do you think our country has come a long way in accepting LGBTQ couples? Do you find a difference now from the time you came out?
Surabhi and Paromita: Yes, it has definitely come a long way. We have received so much support not just personally, but over social media platforms as well. None of the comments on any of our post showcase any kind of negativity. The society has become more accepting with very few anti-social elements. This newer generation is more courageous, more accepting, and fearlessly stands up for themselves.
T+L India: Do you prefer slow holidays or do you like to hop from one place to the other?
Surabhi and Paromita: Slow holidays for sure. A laid-back vacation where we can tour around in the first half of the day and chill during the other half is what we would love to do.
T+L India: Destinations on your must-visit list?
Surabhi and Paromita: Europe, New Zealand, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Peru to name a few.
T+L India: What comes to your mind when we say #TravelIsLove?
Surabhi and Paromita: When we travel through this journey of life we definitely fall in love with numerous things, places and people that come our way. That is #TravelIsLove for us!