This will be an extremely LONG post! I can't help it. I tried to narrow it down, but there's just too many things that happen during a Hindu Ceremony that I have 100's of photos just in the sneak peek. HELLO! Photo overload ahead! I'll try and explain as I go along, of course, but please know that the majority of the ceremony was not translated into English. It was in Sanskrit, I believe.
I started with the bride's prep and started early at her house. See the markings above? Those are on the ground outside the bride's home, where the groom will meet her family. Gifts are exchanged and his feet are washed. He is then invited inside the bride's home for some light snacks before heading to the ceremony site.
The bride? She started early. By the time I arrived, her hair was complete and adorned with beautiful flowers. I saw them sew in a few. It was quite heavy. We joked that it forced good posture.
See her decorated hands in the photo below? It's Henna. It represents the love and happiness of a marriage. Indian women will wear henna at certain occasions for the rest of her life, or until she becomes a widow.
I tried to remember what the folded leaf tied to her arm was called, but it escapes me. I do know it was to ward off evil spirits. Many people that day wore them.
See all the Jasmine on the table below? It was everywhere! Smelled wonderful! The bride had it in her hair and pinned it in her sisters hair. The table shot below is crazy chaos! The groom's brother told me on Friday that it's not an Indian wedding without chaos! This was good chaos for sure.
The bride's aunts arrived at the groom's hotel to help him prepare for this day.
A saree is worn by the bride and I'm told that the folds in the dress are called steps. The colors were AMAZING! She wore bangles to match the deep reds and purples. So much color! So dang yummy!
The bride wears a Tika that represents the third eye. It's associated with the idea of meditation and spiritual enlightenment.
Her aunts and sisters helped her get dressed and prepared for her wedding. It took quite some time! Lots to put on and wear and display.
And it must have paid off because check out the looks on the bride's friends below! They were like me, she's GORGEOUS!
While the bridal preps were taking place, Lavanya's dad was worried about making the groom's family wait outside. The bride's family greets the groom's family and he's asking how much longer?
It's a happy day! Every time I looked around little hugs and glances and joy were all around. My kind of emotional photography DREAM! Most weddings are this way, I must say and a big reason I love photographing them. JOY is addicting.
Here's some photos of the the groom arriving and being greeted and welcomed by the bride's family.
The ceremony took place in the backyard of the bride. They had a canopy known as a man dap that was built with seating underneath. Hindu weddings are supposed to take place outside, on the earth.
The entire time, drums are played and they increase with intensity as important parts of the ceremony take place. Also, there are NO restrictions on photography like some churches have. I could go anywhere, photography everything and even could be under the canopy as long as I removed my shoes. So much detail going on! By the time the bride proceeded towards the ceremony site, the groom and his family had been seated a while. A sheet was held to keep them from seeing each other and much of the ceremony took place under that sheet. They would pass gifts back and forth. I think this was part of the "handing over" ceremony.
I love this shot below. It's humor and confusion and wonderment going on all at one time! Her hair is clean and free from rice. Won't last long! Hindu weddings are filled with customs that are messy!
Before the ceremony is over, all of these flower garlands will be worn by the couple. FANTASTIC COLORS!
That's Lavanya holding the coconut. They still can't see each other and the priest is still chanting and you can still hear the drums.
Below is the groom's mom and dad.
More pretty bangles. :)
After this part of the ceremony, it was now time to change clothes and guests were given mango juice during our break. The bride and groom both changed into clothes that they were given at the ceremony.
I'm not sure what these are called, but I think it's what the priests gives them and then they are married! They were facing their guests and much excitement was felt and lots of smiles. So maybe? After this they sat down and lots of rituals took place. Here's some I found online.
- Vivah-Homa- The sacred fire ceremony ascertaining that all auspicious undertakings are begun in an atmosphere of purity and spirituality.
- Pani-Grahan- The groom takes the right hand of the bride in his left hand and accepts her as his lawfully wedded wife.
- Pratigna-Karan- The couple walk round the fire, the bride leading, and take solemn vows of loyalty, steadfast love and life-long fidelity to each other.
- Shila Arohan- The mother of the bride assists her to step onto a stone slab and counsels her to prepare herself for a new life.
- Laja-Homah- Puffed rice offered as oblations into the sacred fire by the bride while keeping the palms of her hands over those of the groom.
- ParikramaorPradakshinaorMangal Fera- The couple circles the sacred fire seven times. This aspect of the ceremony legalizes the marriage according to the Hindu Marriage Act as well custom.
- Saptapadi- Marriage knot symbolized by tying one end of the groom's scarf with the bride's dress. Then they take seven steps representing nourishment, strength, prosperity, happiness, progeny, long life and harmony and understanding, respectively.
- Abhishek- Sprinkling of water, meditating on the sun and the pole star.
- Anna Praashan- The couple make food offerings into the fire then feed a morsel of food to each other expressing mutual love and affection.
- Aashirvadah- Benediction by the elders.
As I read this after the fact, I'm nodding my head and saying, yes. Yes. I let the pictures do the talking.
I had to take a photo of the ceremony site after it cleared of people. Just amazing how much took place and what all it means. It's a beautiful ceremony. It really is. We then had a wonderful meal and special toast and speeches. Not to mention a few pictures.
BRAVO Chekuru family! It was a wonderful day!