Enduring love was in the air on Valentine’s Day as our ‘Y’ We Are Soulmates contest played out, and devoted couples demonstrated why the magic of matrimony still works.
If love is a promise and a souvenir to cherish then marriage is its ultimate form of expression.
United by matrimony in a story scripted and honed by their ever-growing love for each other, eight couples arrive in high hopes to prove their love for one another to the judges at the ‘Y’ We Are Soulmates competition on the evening of Valentine’s Day.
Love is undoubtedly in the air as couples arrive holding hands and draped in red – all finalists whittled down after a rigorous round of selection that required them to tell us about their soulmates.
The venue – the ballroom at the Centara Muscat Hotel – is also laid out in red with alluring Thai music masking the backdrop ever so slightly with its enchanting melodies to match the theme of the night: love.
But as opposed to keeping them united, the emcee of the night, Merge 104.8’s Chris Fisher, proceeds to split them apart from each other.
It’s a process that baffles the contestants; from a couple of 31 years Sunil and Vineetha Seth, to the newlyweds Rajesh and Swapna who are celebrating their first ever Valentine’s Day together with Y Magazine.
The first couple, however, steals the show with an adorable love story that charms everyone from the sponsors Mitsubishi Motors and Centara Muscat Hotel to the crowd of families present.
Much like the others, they too are vying for a share of the prizes from the prize pool of RO750 with winners and first- and second-runner-ups taking home gifts worth RO350, RO250, and RO150, respectively.
Thirty-one years in marriage and still in a love story that dates back to the 1980s, the Seths don red tees embroidered with the words: ‘My Valentine’ and their corresponding names in attire that would teach even modern-day romantic Bollywood flicks a lesson.
He says: “It’s hard to say that love at first sight works, and that wasn’t the case for us, either. We knew each other for a very long time as friends but eventually we were set up for marriage by our families in a pre-arranged manner.
“Love bloomed and we’ve been together ever since,” his wife butts in to say, as they delight the audience with their story.
And following a quick introduction of all the couples, the game begins.
The premise of the contest is simple: a total of 10 questions are asked and couples must match each other’s answers.
The questions – all crafted by the judges and Chris Fisher – cover everything from personality traits, to home politics, and even quirky stumpers that bring a dash of humour to proceedings.
These include brain-teasers such as: three items the husband would grab in the event of them being stranded on a remote island, who their favourite family member is, and the most romantic gesture they’ve had from their spouse’s side.
Much like the underpinnings of a successful marriage, there’s no scope for deceit. So, the contestants are barred from using their mobile phones and eye contact is frowned upon as well – you know – if such a thing as telepathy exists.
Twenty minutes is all it takes for the couples to present all the answers. And then it is time to have them on stage – one couple at a time.
Setting the ball rolling are contestants Ian and Roneth Estanislao, who are brought to the stage to present their answers, followed by the rest.
These are then compared and the scores are tallied amid much amusement that then set the tone for the Valentine’s Day evening, leaving several members of audience on the floor (quite literally) in tears of laughter.
Also, Vani, the two-year-old daughter of contestants Dhaval and Urvashi takes the centre stage with Chris, to whom the mother says: “This is the first time we’ve enjoyed ourselves at a competition.
“Even though it is fierce and everyone wants to win this, there’s so much more we take home from it; the comedy, the atmosphere, and the friendliness of everyone here. It’s the perfect Valentine’s Day for us,” she adds.
Soon, however, the excitement is pushed to the edge and tension pervades the room as the judges present the final scores to Chris.
Much to our surprise, there’s a tie for the second and third round between returning couples Rajesh and Swapna, and Manish and Nirmala.
Two tough high-stakes tie-breaker rounds later, it’s Rajesh and Swapna that emerge victorious, and only second to the winners of this year’s Y We Are Soulmates: Sunil and Vineetha.
There’s a secret to their win, though: ‘understanding and willingness to learn more about each other’.
Sunil, a top official with a leading car dealership says that despite his busy schedule, he finds time to learn about his wife’s day and vice versa. “After a long day, it’s always nice to know that you have someone you love with you as you go to sleep.
“Therefore, we try to go for dates every week even after all these years. Love is embedded in us and even though a marriage is about making things work and understanding, its core is in the affection and love that we share for each other,” the parents of two tell us.
It’s a value echoed by couples Manish and Nirmala, and Rajesh and Swapna – all of whom have been together for more than a decade.
In an earlier interview with Y, Anthony E. Wright, the General Manager of Centara Muscat Hotel shared his message on love: “The world is constantly evolving and perhaps it’s a cliché to say that the only permanent thing in the world is change.
“Being a valued partner and sponsor for this event pulls us back to why we’re all doing what we are doing, and it’s for our loved ones.
“We all have our own soulmates, the loves of our lives, and partners in crime – and so slowing down from our very busy schedule to recognise them in such a fun and endearing event is quite appropriate, to say the least.
“Participating in events such as ‘Y’ We Are Soulmates is pretty much related to that recognition that your spouse or partner deserves. It’s all rooted back to the family, one cannot express outwards if it doesn’t exist in your core.” ν