Last weekend, I had one of the most colorful and exciting experiences of my photography career. I got to travel to Jim Thorpe, PA to shoot the wedding of Meghna & Quentin. Their day was going to be unique in it’s use of both a traditional Hindu ceremony and an American ceremony. This was the first time I had the privilege to document a Hindu ceremony so today’s blog post is going to focus mostly on that part of the day.
I am simply in love with the beauty of other cultures. The amount of color used in the traditional indian clothing was breathtaking.
Bracelets. Lots and lots of bracelets. In fact the women’s use of jewelry as a whole was fantastic.
As is fitting for a bride, Meghna was very well doted on. She had help with every step of getting ready.
Meghna’s mom showing off some henna along with the shoes that Meghna would wear for the Hindu ceremony.
Every piece of jewelry, even the dozens of bracelets that Meghna wore, matched her sari perfectly. They weren’t all easy to get on either!
The finishing touches on a gorgeous bride.
Special thanks to Daniel Lanton for assisting me on this shoot. He captured hundreds of beautiful images and details from the day, including this set
Enter the groom, also in traditional indian clothing. More reds and golds for color and beautiful intricate stitching.
Father of the bride and father of the groom.
The wedding itself took place at Quentin’s fathers house on one of the lakes outside of Jim Thorpe. His father built a beach, a dock and much more for the wedding. Many of the decorations and crafts were handmade including wood carvings and stained glass. This was at the top of the Mandap, a structure that symbolizes the continuous support of family and under which the wedding ceremony is performed.
Meghna supplied me with a written explanation of the Hindu ceremony. I’ll share it along with the images.
Swagatam (Welcoming of the Groom): The wedding day begins with the Swagatam, when the groom is greeted by the bride’s family. He is asked to break an earthen pot filled with curd, honey, and cottonseeds symbolizing the different experiences he would encounter in the joint journey of life ahead.
Ganesh Puja: The ceremony begins with a prayer to Lord Ganesh, the God of wisdom and the destroyer of all evils. This prayer dispels the darkness of ignorance and removes obstacles.
Madhuparka: The groom’s feet are washed and he is fed “Madhuparka” (melted butter and curd) while sitting under the Mandap. This signifies the purification of the groom.
Kanya Agamana, Antarpat, and Mangalashtaka (Prayer): The bride escorted into the Mandap by her maternal uncle. Upon reaching the Mandap, the bride is separated from the groom by an antarpat (curtain). Family, friends, and guests also get a chance to sing their own compositions of mangalashtaka, which are typical Sanskrit verses invoking the Gods, describing the ceremony, and giving blessing for their life together. Each stanza ends with “Kuryat Sada Mangalam, Shubh Mangal Savdhan” and everyone showers akshada (rice) on the couple. When the curtain is removed, the couple exchanges garlands symbolizing the unification of their hearts.
No shoes allowed in the Mandap.
Hasta Melap: The bride’s parents place her right hand into the groom’s right hand symbolizing their renunciation. The couple takes a vow to perform their duties as a married couple in a righteous way.
Havan: A sacred flame is lit which represents Agni, the Lord of Fire. The Lord of Fire blesses the couple with purity and happiness in their lives together as Husband and Wife, dispels darkness and ignorance, and leads the couple into a world of light and knowledge.
Mangal Phera: The bride and groom circle the holy fire four times symbolizing the four basic human attributes:
After completing of the forth round, the bride sits at the groom’s right side and becomes Vamangi, the husband’s lawful wedded wife.
Sapta Padi : The bride and groom take seven steps representing seven principles and promises to each other. “Together we shall”:
Sindoor/Mangal Sutra: At this time the groom puts red powder in the bride’s hair signifying their role as husband and wife. Then, the groom ties the “Mangal Sutra” (black beaded necklace) around her neck, as a symbol of abiding love, integrity, and devotion to each other.
Kansaar: The mother of the bride brings Kansaar or other sweets for the bride and groom. The bride and groom feed each other five times as a display of their love for one another.
Aashirvaad: Once the wedding ceremony is complete, the couple receives blessings by way of touching the feet of the priest, the parents, and other senior relatives present.
This was such an amazing day to be a part of. I plan on blogging the rest of the day another week. I’m just so enamored by the culture that I needed to share this right away for everyone to see. I wish the best for this wonderful couple and am honored that I was asked to document their wedding. Hope you love the images as much as I do!