How do you make sense of an Indian Wedding if you are not from this land and it is the first time you are experiencing it?
I am so thankful to Kruti and Mrugen for calling me all the way to Rajkot and giving me the opportunity to document their Wedding. Kruti's brother Dhaval is now settled in the UK and was there to attend Kruti's Wedding with his fiancee - Desiree. Desiree, an Italian by birth, was experiencing an Indian Wedding for the first time. And i could see that she was really lost in the whole affair. So this blog is for her and for anyone wanting to get a little better understanding of what an India Wedding is all about with its rituals, colors and chaos.
Think of the Indian wedding ceremony as if it were a romantic story, where the bride and the groom come to the Mandap, separately, as if unknown to each other. Then they fall in love and ask the parents' permission to get married. The parents/priest explain to them what the Hindu marriage means and the obligations that go with it. During the various rituals, the couple commits to remain faithful to each other and repeats the pledge in front of the Fire God, the Agni and all the witnesses present. Then they walk seven steps together committing to seven marriage vows to each other, about their future life together. Thereafter they take blessings from everyone and leave the Mandap as a newly married couple! These are a few of the customary rituals that form an essential part of what an Indian Wedding is all about -
Swagat / Welcoming Groom And His Family -
The traditional hosts for the ceremony are the bride’s parents. The groom and his family are the guests arriving from outside to the Mandap. The Barat, the singing and dancing procession of the groom and his family, reaches the wedding venue. The bride’s family welcomes them with Aarati and sweets, as a symbol of happiness and good tidings to come and escort them to the wedding hall.
The groom is welcomed by his mother-in-law by Aarti. She also playfully tries to grab his nose at the entrance. This tradition is basically meant for an amusing welcome. However, the quoted reason behind this ceremony is to remind the groom that he has come rubbing his nose at the girl’s door asking for her hand from her parents.
Jaimal / Varmala -
Jaimala is the formal introduction of the bride and groom and they garland each other, indicating their mutual approval to proceed with the ceremony.
Shree Ganesh Prayers & Vadhu Aagaman -
Thereafter everyone proceeds to the Mandap and after all are seated, the ceremony is started with prayers to Lord Ganesh to bless this occasion and make the marriage ceremony free of obstacles. Bride is brought to the Mandap typically by her maternal uncle. She is brought to the Mandap in a Doli.
Sankalpa / Mutual Approval -
The Pandit/Priest then explains to them the objectives of the Vivaah/married life and they propose to marry each other and enter the next phase of their life as a married couple.
Kannyadaan / Giving Away the Bride -
In the Hindu marriage, Bride’s parents, “give away” the Bride as one of the noblest acts they will perform in their lifetime. Bride and Groom then commit to remain faithful to each other, while pursuing Dharma, Artha and Kama.
Hastmelap / Expectations from Married Life -
The Bride and the Groom communicate their expectations of married life and show their consent by showering rice on each other. Bride requests his support for a healthy and prosperous family life. Groom requests her support in pursuing Dharma and for her cooperation in his various endeavors for a successful life. The couple lights the Agni, the holy fire that symbolizes light, power and knowledge and Agni acts as a witness to the ceremony. And Bride and Groom repeat the sacred pledges of marriage.
Agni Pradakshina & Saptapadi / Starting the Marriage Journey -
The couple circles the sacred fire, starting their transition into married life. After the Agni Pradakshina, the Bride moves to the left side of the Groom; indicating her transition to the Groom’s family.
Saptapadi is an important step of any Hindu marriage. In a typical Gujarati Marriage, the groom helps the bride in touching the seven betel nuts with her right toe, while both of them recite the seven vows for their commitment towards each other.
With the first step, we will provide for and support each other.
With the second step, we will develop mental, physical & spiritual strength.
With the third step, we will share the worldly possessions.
With the fourth step, we will acquire knowledge, happiness and peace.
With the fifth step, we will raise strong and virtuous children.
With the sixth step, we will enjoy the fruits of all seasons.
With the seventh step, we will always remain friends and cherish each other.
Mangalsutra Ceremony / Marriage Commitment to Each Other
Groom adorns Bride’s neck with the Mangalsutra, a necklace symbolizing good luck, love and friendship. Groom applies Sindoor on Bride’s forehead, they commit to support each other, in good times and bad, in happiness and sorrow, with unending love.
Ashirvad / Blessings -
There after everyone offers blessings to the couple for long and happy lives together. After being declared as Husband and Wife, Groom and Bride bow to all invited guests and leave the Mandap as a newly married couple.
And now... its time for some HAPPY pictures!
This blog is based on my knowledge and experience as a Wedding Photographer. India has so much diversity that these customs also may vary. But this is what Kruti and Mrugen's Wedding was like. And i hope this can give you a little better picture of the fairytale an Indian Wedding can be.