Just in from Louisiana and then back out again to Jersey! Both weddings were night and day to one another with Cler and Joe being a very laid back southern style wedding and Anand and Santhi a full fledge traditional Indian wedding. I don’t believe that Srinu and I have ever felt so close and connected to who we are in such a long time… after taking part in photographing the two weddings it made us remember to give thanks for our wonderful cultures as they both in our opinion are truly the best, if we must say so ourselves!
This post may become long winded, however we feel that it is TOTALLY necessary and needed as Santhi and Anand went all out on their ceremony and in keeping with the pure Indian/Hindu customs and traditions we thought that we would take time to explain a little bit about the traditional South Indian customs in more detail. Best of all Srinu is Telugu and so are both families making it even more near and dear to our hearts!
We arrived Friday evening and documented the festivities of the Mehendi/Sangeet that kicked off the upcoming marriage of Anand and Santhi. For those of you not familiar the purpose of the Sangeet is for family and friends to celebrate through song and dance with the couple as the prepare to embark on this journey into married life. Although we are not going to be including any of the sangeet images in the post due to wanting to blog ASAP and having so many wonderful wedding images to share. We want to again congratulate the families as they unite as one and the happy couple as they enjoy the many wonderful days of their lives together! As everyone said last night, Anand and Santhi means… Happiness and Peace without the other, each one can not be obtained. Therefore Santhi and Anand truly complete one another.
To Anand’s brother and soon to be Sister-In-Law we wish you two all the best on your wedding that is vastly approaching on April 11th!
For those of you not interested in reading about the meaning and purpose of a traditional South Indian ceremony we will post the rest of our content below the images:
The Wedding Ceremony
The Hindu wedding ceremony takes place in accordance with traditions described in the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures. The ceremony is traditionally comprised of a series of steps that will be carried out by the couple, as well as their families. Priests recite mantras in the Sanskrit language during each step of the ceremony. The ceremony takes place on a Kalyaana Mandapam, the wedding pavilion. The steps followed in the region of India called Andhra Pradesh.
The groom’s family and friends celebrate with music and dance in a traditional wedding procession. The bride’s family and friends receive them at the entrance of the wedding hall.
This step is performed in a separate area by the bride as the Baraat arrives. The bride offers prayers to the Goddess Gouri Devi, the Universal Mother seeking love and a happy married life.
The Brides family invites the Groom and his family to the wedding ceremony with offerings of sweet drinks.
The groom and his family are ceremoniously welcomed to the Kalyaana Mandapam.
Ganapathi Ganesha Puja
Upon the arrival to the Kalyaana Mandapam, the groom offers prayers to Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles, to ensure that the wedding ceremony takes place without impediments. All auspicious ceremonies begin with invoking Lord Ganesha for grace and good luck.
The brides parents perform this step as they invoke the waters from the holy rivers and oceans into a kalasham, a pot decorated with sandalwood, turmeric, saffron, and leaves with a coconut places over it. The sprinkling of water from the kalasham sanctifies the ceremony site and the articles used in the ceremony.
After invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesha, a sacred thread is tied around the grooms wrist, to confer protection.
Vadhu Kalyanavedika Pravesam
The bride enters and is escorted to the Kalyaana Mandapam to be seated with her parents. Before the bride arrives, a screen symbolic of traditional barrier is held in front of the groom. The bride is seated with her parents on the opposite side of the screen.
The brides parents offer her hand in marriage after the groom accepts a promise to treat the Bride with love, respect, and as an equal partner in all walks of life. According to the Vedic scriptures, Kanyaadaanam is the noblest of all gifts. The groom makes his promise as holy water flows from the brides fathers hands to his own, symbolizing the transfer of responsibility from the father of the bride to the groom.
The priest proclaims the sanctity and importance of the marriage and seeks the blessings for the couple by chanting eight auspicious Vedic mantras. These same mantras were chanted during the wedding of Lord Rama and Sita.
This is the most auspicious time of the wedding and the precise time is determined by the alignment of the bride and the grooms birth stars. At this time, the bride and groom hold a paste made of cumin seeds and brown sugar on each other’s heads, signifying their spiritual union. When ground together, the slightly bitter cumin seeds and sweet jaggery (brown sugar) turn into an inseparable mixture. This symbolizes how the bride and groom are to become inseparable through life’s bitter and sweet times. The screen separating them until the point is removed and they look at each other for the first time during the wedding ceremony.
The groom ties the Mangala Sutra, a sacred thread, around the brides neck with three knots, representing love, affection, and companionship. This is a significant moment in the ceremony.
The bride and groom hold hands and take their vows in the presence of God and all assembled. Garlands and rings are exchanged.
The bride and groom shower each other with tumeric-covered rice mixed with pearls, corals, and flowers. This traditional practice is meant to bring the couple together with mutual offerings of faith and hope for love and prosperity in their life together.
The couple prays for future prosperity and happiness by circling four times around a fire, Agni, The bride leads the first three time for Dharma (universal truth), Artha (prosperity), and Kama (pleasure). The groom leads the fourth time for Moksha (liberation).
The priest ties the garments of the bride and groom in a matrimonial knot, symbolizing the entwining of their lives and the union of their souls. They remain tied together for the remainder of the ceremony.
The bride and groom hold hands and take seven holy steps together around the fire, making seven marital vows:
Step 1: to share responsibility of the household
Step 2: to give each other strength and grow together in strength
Step 3: to acquire prosperity and the respect of both peers and elders.
Step 4: to share each other’s joys and sorrows.
Step 5: to care for their children.
Step 6: to remain together forever
Step 7: to remain lifelong friends in harmony.
After the seventh step, the groom turns to the bride and says: “With these seven steps we have become friends. Let me not be severed from your friendship. Let your friendship not be severed from me.” At the end of this step, they become husband and wife.
The priest points out seven stars in the sky to the bride and the groom. The couple looks toward the stars Vasistha and Arundathi (part pf the Great Bear Constellation, known as Sapta Rishi or Seven Sages). These stars, always visible together, have come to symbolize an inseparable relationship.
The bride and groom recieve blessings from the priest, family, and friends. The assembled guests gather to individually bless the couple with turmeric coated rice mixed with flower petals.
Family members bring a sacred light seeking eternal peace and happiness. This step signifies the completion of the marriage ceremony.
We would like to thank Santhi and Anand for the wonderful information provided to help educate those in great detail about the details of their ceremony. For those of you who would like to see a few more of our favorites we have included them below in a little slideshow easy for sharing! Happy viewing!