Thought that with this post we would change it up a little since we have a very mixed audience who visit our blog. We thought why not make it informative to allow those not familiar with Hinduism, the Indian culture and traditions to better understand and relate to our images.
First off before we start we would like to thank Nisha & Kiranj for their hospitality in making us a part of their happiness throughout the day. Nisha radiates joy through her smile and her kind heartedness. The smile that she places upon everyone conveys the purity and generosity of her soul. Kiranj is sure to have been blessed by God himself when he stumbled upon such a great find!
PROFESSIONAL SHOUT OUTS: Wedding Decorator – Le Reve Creations (Roshni and Tejan Bhatt – (AMAZING X 1,000,000,000)), Coordinator: Sharon Moser from the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, Mehendi Artist – Mansi Shah (AMAZING X 1,000,000,000), Hair/Make-up – Bridal Gal, Lillian Rivera – Make-up, Lena Piccininni – Hair.
While Indian weddings are similar to American/Christian events in the regards to getting ready, details, ceremony, cocktail hour, and the reception they tend to involve more traditions and rituals outside of the vow and ring exchange.
In the Christian ceremony the focus is the joining of the two as a couple where as in the Indian/Hindu culture and religion it is the joining and uniting of two families. As Christianity has the Bible, Hindus have what is called the Vedas, the spiritual scriptures that are the heart of India’s culture. The Vedas divide life into four distinct stages, or ashrams: studentship (brahmacharya ashram), householder (grahstha ashram), retirement (vanprastha ashram), and self-realization (sanyas ashram). Marriage, considered a samskara, or sacrament, is the transition from studentship to householder, and as such it forms the very foundation for the remaining two stages of life. Three-quarters of human life, then, depends on the success of marriage.
Hindu weddings take place inside a structure called a mandap. Taking anywhere from 1.5-3 hours or longer depending upon how involved the ceremony becomes. Brides typically are painted in elaborate mendhi or henna designs covering her hands and feet before the ceremonies begin. The following ceremonies are meant to honor the couple’s love and ensure the success of their marriage by invoking the blessings of various deities and joining the families in celebration. It is said that the darker and bolder that the Henna becomes shows the deep love that she will hold for her husband.
Ganesh Pooja – Typically First on the Agenda.
This ceremony begins with an invocation to Lord Ganesh, or Ganesha, the Hindu god of wisdom and salvation. Ganesha is depicted as having an elephant’s head. By invoking him, he removes any obstacles from the wedding ceremony. The ceremony may then be performed without hindrances. The Ganesh Pooja is performed anywhere from a few days to the night before the wedding.
Arrival of the Vara Yatra/Bharaat
As the groom and his party, together called the vara yatra, arrive at the ceremony site amidst much singing and dancing, the bride’s parents, family and friends greet them with akshat (a kind of rice), tilak (a dot on the forehead), arati (a plate carrying a lighted lamp), and a garland.
Before the wedding begins, the nine planets are invoked by name in a ceremony called grahashanti (peace with the planets). Blessings are received from each planet for the newlyweds life together.
The bride is often led to the mandap by a brother or uncle, where the groom waits with the bride’s parents. The bride’s parents offer their daughter in marriage in a ritual called kanyadan. They wash the feet of the bride and groom with milk and water, purifying them for their new life together. The bride and groom hold their hands open, and the father of the bride holds his open palm over their hands. The mother of the bride then pours water over her husband’s hand, which subsequently falls on the hands of the bride and groom.
This ceremony centers on the joining of the bride and groom’s hands. The bride’s right hand is placed on the right hand of the groom. Their hands are then tied together with a cotton thread wound several times, while the priest recites holy verses. Although a single thread can be easily broken, a thread wound many times creates an unbreakable bond; thus, the thread acts as a metaphor for the new marriage, bringing the couple together in an unbreakable bond.
The Wedding Ceremony
After the initial exchange of garlands by the bride and groom, the bride and groom are next seated in front of a holy fire, or agni, as a priest recites various mantras from the Holy Scriptures. In Hinduism, fire is regarded as a purifier and a sustainer of life. In a ritual called Mangal Fera the couple offer prayers to the fire, which represents God serving as the coupleâ€™s witness as the two are joined in marriage. Prayers are offered by placing ghee, rice, and flowers in the flame., the bride and groom walk around the fire four times (each a symbol of the four ashrams of life), praying and exchanging vows of duty, love, fidelity, and respect. The priest directs family members to make offerings into the fire. At the end of the ceremony, in a ritual called saptapadi, the bride and groom take seven vows, sealing the marriage forever. These vows are traditionally spoken in Sanskrit, and are one of the most ancient aspects of the Hindu ceremony. The vows validate the marriage; no ceremony is complete without them. During this part of the ceremony the mangalsutra which is the thread of love is the first piece of jewellery to be brought for the bride-to-be. Its appearance is that of black beads strung on a gold chain, and its intricate pendant. The ritual of the groom placing the mangalsutra around the bride’s neck is an essential part of the marriage, along with his applying the sindoor along the parting of her lustrous hair. The original concept of the mangalsutra was that of a black row of beads to ward of the evil eye. Most couples today are also exchanging wedding bands which has been adopted from the western culture.
Tradition often has seven married women whisper into the brides ear secret blessings. Seven Steps, the seven promises or vows, which are made while they take the seven steps together and they are as follows:
The first step is taken to earn and provide a living for their household or family, and avoiding those things that might harm them.
The second step is taken to build their physical, mental and spiritual powers and to lead a healthy lifestyle.
The third step is taken to earn and increase their wealth by righteous and proper means.
The fourth step is taken to acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony by mutual love, respect, understanding and faith.
The fifth step is taken to have children for whom they will be responsible and blessed with healthy, righteous and brave children.
The sixth step is taken for self-control and longevity.
The seventh step is taken to be true to each other, loyal and remain life-long companions by this wedlock.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the priest directs the newlyweds’ eyes to the pole star, which remains steadfast in the sky though the stars around it move across the sky. So shall their new marriage be steadfast, though others may change around them.
As the couple leaves they touch their parents/elders feet as a sign of devotion and respect.
Often followed by the groom’s purchasing for the return of his shoes that were stolen during the ceremony by the young ladies and held for ransom sometimes for a very steep bounty that we have seen go into the 4 digits for their return.
All this and finally the two are united in holy matrimony! Young and old the party is all about two families coming together in celebration of the couple being united. The evening totally revolves around family, friends, food and lots of fun!
Cameras and Lenses used
Canon EOS 50D ( Canon )
Canon EOS 5D ( Canon )
Canon EOS 5D Mark II ( Canon )
NIKON D3S ( NIKON CORPORATION )
( Canon )
150.0 mm f/2.8 ( NIKON CORPORATION )
24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 ( NIKON CORPORATION )
70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 ( NIKON CORPORATION )
85.0 mm f/1.4 ( NIKON CORPORATION )
EF135mm f/2L USM ( Canon )
EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM ( Canon )
EF85mm f/1.2L USM ( Canon )