I’ve never met a wedding photographer from Europe or the US who wasn’t dreaming about shooting a real traditional Hindu wedding one day. The huge bonus on top of that wish is to shoot a traditional Hindu wedding in India. Just like all those photographers, for as long as I’ve been a wedding photographer, I’ve had a dream of shooting such a wedding. It is an ultimate getting-out-of-your-comfort-zone experience and all of that in the country with a completely different culture and heritage from anything that I’ve known so far. Also, it is so different, colorful, rich in traditions…
So getting an enquiry from Suparna one day in the fall of 2014, was one of the most amazing things that happened to us that same fall. Suparna is a girl living in Pune, Maharashtra, India and she was getting married to Vinay in February 2015 in a beautiful traditional South Indian wedding. What she loved about our work was the authentic photojournalistic style and the difference there was when comparing it to traditional Indian wedding photography style.
So she took a bold step and decided to bring us all the way from Croatia to shoot their wedding. What an honour!
For those three days in Pune, Maharashtra we witnessed and grabbed photos of some amazing traditional and religious ceremonies considered to bring happiness and blessing in a marriage.
THE FIRST DAY started early with Dewar Pooja at Suparna’s home. It’s the ritual to mark the beginning of a wedding in the family. Everything connected to wedding is worshipped, like clothes, jewellery and food. After Pooja everything moved to the bigger hall so all the women at the wedding had their afternoon. A beautiful tradition of putting on green bangles (green is considered auspicious in South Indian weddings), singing and giving the presents to the bride and her family continued with Mehendi during late afternoon and evening. Mehendi is also a tradition reserved for women at the wedding where their arms and hands are being decorated with traditional henna designs. Suparna got both of her arms above elbows and her feet above ankles covered in a beautiful henna designs by four henna artists. The tradition is to have a letters of your future husband’s name hidden somewhere in the design on hands, so Suparna also had Vinay’s name hidden. When the design was done, her family and friends had fun looking for the letters. Once when henna dries, it falls down and leaves a colour traces of the designs on skin, starts a process of a colour developing. The darker colour is, the more your future husband loves you.
On top of all of that, Martina was also a participant of all those rituals reserved for women. Being considered and treated as a guest at our couples’ weddings is a really special feeling!
THE SECOND DAY was reserved for Vara Pooja and Kashi Yatra, another Hindu wedding ceremonies specific for South India. Both bride and groom were welcomed to the wedding venue. Both of them separately exchanged gifts between families. Vinay received gifts from Suparna’s family and Suparna received gifts from Vinay’s family.
The ceremonies started in the afternoon and finished in the late evening in a beautiful Siddharth Palace where both Suparna and Vinay, their families and us stayed for a sleep while the hall was being prepared for the most important event in the morning of third day of the wedding.
THE THIRD DAY was the wedding day with the most important ceremony. For each Hindu wedding there is an astrologically chosen auspicious time for the exchange of garlands called the Muhurat. For Suparna & Vinay's wedding, this was 10:40 AM. There were also some rituals before and after this time. The wedding moment itself was a real challenge to photograph as so many people are included and everything was happening so fast, but luckily we were exploringall of it upfront all over the internet to learn as much as possible before. The very touching ceremony in which two of them couldn’t see one another till the right moment was the highlight of the whole three-day adventure. After the main ceremony there was also a ring ceremony and in the end greetings of all the guests with giving gifts to bride and groom.
Three days of so many things happening in front of us, along with the great company of Suparna and Vinay... The only other thing I know for sure is that for weeks and months after this wedding, we were thinking about it, mentioning it in all occasions and trying to process everything we saw, experienced and photographed.
Dear Suparna and Vinay, thank you for trusting us. We had some of the best time of our lives and we hope that for years from now your photos will be showing you that for those three days you had the time of your life as well!