South Asian weddings are known for their bright colours, unique traditions, and big celebrations. One more thing that we’ve noticed about South Asian weddings: the celebrations can last for days! Many of them start off with an engagement party way before the wedding proper, and when it’s time to tie the knot, festivities reign in the houses of both bride and groom, followed by a culture-rich ceremony, and end in a huge, lively reception full of dancing and music. There are many variations on how different cultures celebrate their union in South Asian weddings, so let’s take a look at some of them now!
Hindu wedding ceremonies are bright, colourful affairs, with many cultural traditions involved. Amongst them are: Jaimala, the exchange of garlands between bride and groom to represent their acceptance of one another; Madhupak, offering of honey and yogurt by the bride’s father to the groom as a symbol of welcome and respect; and Kanyadan, where the bride’s father givers her away by placing her hand in the groom’s hand. Another ceremony is Havan, lighting of the Sacred Fire, meant to invoke the god of Fire to witness the couple’s commitment towards one another. The bride and groom then offer rice as sacrifice into the sacred fire. Once this is done, scarves are tied around the bride and groom to signify their eternal bond and pledge to remain faithful and love one another before God. Other cultural rituals in a Hindu wedding ceremony include Mangalphera, a walk around the fire; Saptapardi, where the couple walks seven steps together to represent seven marital vows; Jalatstnchana, blessing of the newlywed couple by their parents; Sindhoor, where the groom applies powdered red lead to the bride’s forehead; Aashirvad, blessings given to the bride and groom by their parents; Mehndi, and Mangalasutra.
The most important requirement in a Muslim wedding is signing of the marriage contract. This signing occurs during the Nikah ceremony, where the groom proposes to his bride, with at least two witnesses present. During the proposal, the groom will state the details of his meher, which is a formal statement indicating the monetary amount that he will offer his bride. Meher consists of two parts in the Muslim culture: the first part a prompt which should be given prior to consummation of the marriage, and the second portion a deferred amount, which can be in the form of money, gifts, jewellery or land etc, that is presented to the bride throughout her life. After statement of the meher, the couple then demonstrates their free will by repeating “I accept” in Arabic thrice, followed by the signing of the marriage contract together with two male witnesses. Once this signing is complete, the marriage is considered legal based on their religious and civil law.
A Sikh wedding ceremony is called Anand Karaj, which means ‘blissful union’. Sikhs regard marriage as a sacred bond between man and woman, united in attaining worldly and spiritual joy. During a Sikh wedding ceremony, the bride and groom together with their families assemble together, and meeting and exchanging of presents between the couple’s parents and close relatives occurs. Then, the groom is seated before Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Holy Scripture of Sikhs, followed by his bride. The ceremony will then proceed with a prayer asking for God’s blessings and grace for this union, followed by singing of a hymn. The Laava, or Marriage Hymn, is then read and sung while the bride and groom encircles the Holy Scripture for a total of four times, once for each verse of the Laava sung. Singing of the Song of Bliss, Prayer, and reading of a verse from Guru Granth Sahib Ji concludes the marriage ceremony, and sweet pudding is then served to the congregation.
Being a South Asian Wedding Photographer is truly not as simple as others would think as taking pictures in Hindu weddings entails a lot of preparations, coordination, and hard work. The professional wedding photographer who engages with this type of photography expertise would really be very talented, creative and organized to be able to create a masterpiece out of the wedding photographs that he has taken for a very precious and memorable wedding.
• Focus Production crew understands the important cultural traditions and what are the significance of each event.
• Hindu wedding takes days to celebrate; it is not a typical type of wedding like the other cultures or race that completes the entire wedding ceremony and celebration in one day. That’s why Focus offers multi day discounts.
• To make sure that a photographer would not miss any important event, Focus schedules meeting with the couple and family to make a list of the important parts of the wedding celebration.
• We ask the couple as to who among their close family member could help us with regards to identifying the people or relatives that should be included in each frame for every set of photos based on clan or family. This coordinator could greatly be of help to the wedding photographer in organizing the crowd while photos of the bride and groom are being shot.
• In south asian weddings there is a need for another or a second photographer, this is because the bride and the groom have their own special rite and rituals to go through even before they arrive the wedding venue for the actual wedding ceremony; these separate events could not be handled by only one photographer as both events occur simultaneously on different locations.
• Everyone who attends a Hindu wedding is considered family and there might be hundreds of friends, relatives, and family that will be attending the special and memorable moment as the couple starts their life together as one. Focus will work together with you to make a list of each clan or group to be able to organize the people and avoid crowding during the family picture shots.
Events that we are very familiar in covering.
• The Mehndi
• The Sangeet. the pre wedding party which could have different themes. This party is intended to entertain close family and friends before the actual wedding celebration.
• The Barat. In this event, the groom is brought to the wedding venue riding a horse, an elephant, or a four-wheeled vehicle. This would be in a sort of procession where the family of the groom accompanies him going to the venue dancing to traditional Hindu music.
• The VarMala. Standing on a small yet well-decorated stage called a “Mandap”, the couple exchanges flower garlands as part of the start of the wedding rites.
• The Pheras. The couple stands in front of the Holy Fire and exchange their vows. The couple then walks around the Holy Fire seven times while holding hands.
• The Mangal-Sutra. This is the event where the groom offers the bride a golden locket and the groom thread them around the bride’s neck as a symbol of them getting married; this is the same as when the groom of a different culture slides the ring to the bride’s fingers during the wedding.
• The Kanya Daan. This is when the family of the bride hands over their precious daughter in marriage to the groom and his family as a start of the bride being part of their family.
• The Bidaai. This is a very emotional event where the bride leaves her home and journey going to his groom’s house where they will start their own life together and raise their own little ones.