It was over lunch that I first fell in love will Hiral, it was soon realized that the feeling was that of a mutual one! To be honest I don’t even know how much wedding talk actually occured at the time other that Hiral being able to ensure that there were not horns or anything growing from my head. We had such a great time discussing things we both were passionate about to include her profession and our mutual understanding and love for what she brings to humanity itself. There are some people that the moment you meet them radiate this joy and beauty and after just a few exchange of words and the soft gentle laughter followed by a reciprocated kind smile exudes the beauty throughout a persons soul, this defines “Hiral”, let’s just say there is no guessing why Sunit fell head over heels for her. During their engagement session no matter how frozen we all were there was a warmth that wrapped around them both, it was intoxicating.
For those unfamiliar Hiral and Sunit were married in a traditional Gujarati style at the The Westin Washington Dulles Airport in Herndon and I thought it would be nice to share a bit of information/explanation of some of the images since even though it is a Hindu ceremony, there are a bit of things that vary from region to region in India between the customs performed:
This ceremony is the formal acceptance of and announcement of marriage between both the families, it is known as the chandlo maatli. In this ceremony bride’s father along with four male relatives visit the groom’s place with maatli, which is a steel container full of sweets and gifts for the groom and his family and apply chandlo, this is a red circle made at the center of the forehead and gives him their blessings, traditionally in the past at this time the marriage date is usually fixed.
The engagement ceremony of the Gujarati couple is known as gol dhana, which means coriander seeds and jaggery. During the engagement both are typically present and handed out to all in attendance. The engagement function generally is held at the groom’s home. The bride’s family and relatives arrive at groom’s home with gifts and sweets, where they then exchange rings and accept each other as their future partners, the two then take the promise to be always together. The couple get blessings from both the families, followed by the groom’s family showering the bride with dresses, gold, gifts and sweets.
Ganesha Sthapan also known as Ganesha Maatli or Ganesh Pooja is the beginning of the wedding ceremony and rituals and is typically for all Hindu’s one of the first pooja’s performed as it is said Lord Ganesha is the remover of all obstacles. Lord Ganesha is considered as the God of Luck, Wisdom and Peace. Both the families will generally conduct the Ganesh Pooja at their home few days before the wedding praying for their children’s happy and successful married life.
In all Indian weddings not just Gujarati weddings mehendi plays a very major role. This is a much awaited ritual for the bride, and in today’s modern world the one time she will have it adorn her to the fullest on her forearms, hands, feet and extend up her shins and calves. Generally this is done two days prior to the start of her wedding functions. All friends and relatives are invited to the bride’s home to share in the applying of mehendi prior to the start of the formal festivities. Females mostly of the bride’s family sing folk songs and friends enjoys a little bit of dance and music however in today’s world it is not uncommon to see gents taking place in the fun as well!
Mandap mahurat has a religious significance in Gujarati weddings as they perform this ceremony as the parents of the couple seek the blessings of the Mother Earth granting permission to start the digging of the soil to erect the mandva or mandap, the structure in which the couple will wed under.
A griha shanti pooja ceremony arranged at groom’s home as well as bride’s home. This is conducted to seek the blessings of all the nine planets, it is traditionally required to be done at the respective homes immediately after the mandap mahurat.
Pitthi is a paste of sandalwood, turmeric, saffron, rosewater and perfume. Friends, family members and relatives apply this paste on the groom and bride’s faces and body, it is said that turmeric brings a healthy glow on the faces of the bride and groom.
The Garba, Sanji or Sangeet Sandhya is one of the most awaited traditions for all who will be attending the wedding. It is the first formal event when ladies and gents are able to dress up and formally congratulate the couple before the wedding takes place. This function is full of fun, dance, music and masti! The traditional garba dance of Gujarat takes place followed by dandia, when done properly this is a beautiful intricate dance with ornate wooden sticks adorned at time with beautiful ribbon. It is a great way for both the families to meet each other!
During the mameru or otherwise called mosaalu one or two days the wedding day a maternal uncle of bride will go to her home and give sweets, gifts such as a paanetar saree, jewelry and most importantly her choodo (bangles).
After the groom arrives at the marriage venue, gets off his horse takes the blessings of his soon to be mother in law by touching her feet, she will try to touch his nose, at this time the groom with his families assistance will try to avoid letting her have the upper hand. This playful ritual called jaan or ponkvu is mainly to remind the groom that they are giving their precious daughter to him and allows the family to see his humble and grateful nature.
Madhuparka is a ritual that includes the washing of the groom’s feet by the bride’s parents while sitting under the mandap, he is then offered milk and honey. Sometimes after this point is when at most of the Indian weddings the sister or a cousin sister of the bride begin the hiding of the groom’s shoes – the groom has to then get back his shoes back at the end of the day and for this he has to offer them a sum of money, which is agreeable to them. We have seen shoes go for $1200, yes twelve hundred dollars!!! during this process…. fellas it might be worth purchasing an extra pair 😉
The bride’s entrance is referred to as antarpaat – a maternal uncle called mama carries the bride to the mandap. There is a decorated fabric curtain known as antarpaat, which separates the bride and groom from seeing one another, to create a reveal, when it is lowered the couple place garlands around each other’s neck known as the jaimala ceremony.
Here is where the “tying of the knot” was derived from – it is called the hasta milap where the groom’s shawl is tied to the bride’s sari. The knot that is formed and the joining hands of the couple signify the togetherness of two souls joined together in holy matrimony. The priest chants mantras to summon the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Parvati for the saubhagyavrata or wife. Family and friends then come together to bless the couple and shower grains of rice and rose petals on them.
During what is called pheras the couple take turns leading around the sacred fire as the priest recites mantras. This signifies and expresses their heart’s desire as they seek the love and support of one another.
The wedding rituals are performed in front of a holy fire and conducted by the acharya, it is believed that fire intakes all bad evils. The rituals begin with the kanya daan where in the bride is given away by her parents. As a ritual and devout gesture the bride’s parents resist from eating to make themselves pure in body and mind for the occasion. Their folded hands during the kanya daan ceremony reflect the hope that their son-in-law will take good care of their daughter and never cause her pain. They wash his feet, as per the belief that he is none other than the Lord Vishnu, to whom they are handing over his rightful companion, the Goddess Laxmi in the form of their daughter.
Wedding and Reception Venue: The Westin Washington Dulles Airport
Wedding Coordination: Dream Shaadi
Cinematography: Driver’s Side Films
Decor: Imperial Decorations
Caterer: Bollywood Bistro
DJ & Lighting: Live Sound Entertainment
Bridal Beauty: Caitlyn Meyer
Bridal Mehndi: Mehndi with Heena
Baarat: Harmon’s Carriages
Cake: Dulce Wida Cupcakes
Please check out their wedding featured on Maharani Weddings blog – Herndon, Virginia Indian Wedding by Regeti’s Photography