Think of folk music and dance at any special occasions and chances are high that you’d inevitably think of a grand Gujarati wedding. Even amidst all the traditional rituals and customs, the grandeur and colours, there is a certain earthiness that shines through, adding to the vibrancy of the entire event. Gujarati Hindu weddings typically take place at night; so, the challenge for the wedding photographers is to work with the artificial lighting to capture all those magical moments.

Pre-wedding rituals

Like many Hindu weddings, a Gujarati Hindu wedding is a three-step process with elaborate pre-wedding, wedding and post-wedding rituals.

The Engagement ceremony

It all starts with an engagement ceremony, also known as Mangni, Gol Dana, Sagai orChandlo Matli, depending on the region and the socio-cultural background of the family.  As per custom, the bride’s father along with other male members of the family goes to groom’s house with Chandlo Matli. The bride’s father
applies Chandlo (vermilion) on the would-be groom’s forehead to accept and formalize the matrimonial alliance between the two families.

This auspicious beginning is followed by the families exchanging ‘matli‘ – sweets and gifts. In some traditional families, the engagement takes place with the Gol (Gor) Dhanaceremony, where bride’s family presents the groom with a steel container that is filled with sweets, generally jaggery and coriander seeds.

Gujaratis have a reputation of being jovial and fun-loving; and when the elders gather for an engagement ceremony in their traditional finery, it is an occasion worth capturing on film for posterity.

Mehendi
, the colourful body art

There is an indescribable beauty about a bride’s palms, hands and feet adorned by intricately created mehendi designs. The mehendi function in a Gujarati wedding takes place a few days before the wedding. This occasion is celebrated with great enthusiasm, especially among ladies, as they gather to have their hands adorned with mehendi. The emotions at a mehendi function vary as you have ladies dancing to popular film or folk music tunes with sophistication, even as they protect their hands so as to not disturb the design. The diversity of emotions on display –amazement at the depth of colour, awe at the intricacy of the design, nervous anticipation while one waits for the mehendi to be removed, to name just a few—is an absolute blessing for any photographer or videographer. This ceremony presents innumerable opportunities for locking in some of the best candid shots of the people who matter at the wedding.

Garba

Garba is one of the most eagerly awaited functions of a Gujarati wedding. Well, what is a Gujarati function without some Garba or Dandiya Raas? The Garba is held a night before the wedding. All members of both families gather to do the Garba dance to celebrate the union. As excitement builds and the dancers get creative with their Dandiya moves, photographic opportunities galore. There is probably no better occasion than the Garba or Dandiya Raas for photographers and videographers to capture the uninhibited expressions of joy and excitement amongst friends and family, that the couple can treasure for a lifetime.

Pithi

A day before the wedding, the Pithi ceremony is performed in the morning by inviting family and friends for a ‘haldi’ ceremony. Mostly, the female members gather to apply turmeric on the body of the bride and groom. This ritual is rooted in the belief that turmeric has properties that bring out a healthy glow on the couples’ faces.

The wedding proper

The main rituals start with much fanfare as the ‘Baraat‘ (a procession of family and friends dancing to the tunes of catchy wedding numbers) arrives. Loud music, shimmery clothes, and groom on the white mare. For a photographer this is a wonderful opportunity to capture the essence of a Gujarati wedding. A Gujarati groom is traditionally dressed in a dhoti-kurta, which is later replaced by a formal suit for the reception while the bride dons a white and red sari to be later replaced by designer Lehengas.

The entry of groom and his family at the wedding place is called Ponkvu. The mother-in-law welcomes the groom with an aarti. The scene is just like a typical Bollywood wedding and a photographer/videographer can capture amusing photos/videos as the groom tries to save his nose from mother-in-law. This ceremony is followed by garland exchange or Jaimala. To make the ritual more fun, friends and relatives of both the couple pick them on their shoulders to make it difficult for both to put garlands.

Madhuparka ceremony follows where mother-in-law washes the groom’s feet and offers honey-infused milk. This ritual is carried to make the groom feel special and cared for. While the ceremony goes on, the bride’s sisters get a chance to steal groom’s shoes, called as ‘Juta Churai’. From the perspective of a photographer, the naughtiness and fun can be captured as sisters anxiously wait for the groom to part with his shoes, and later with a decent chunk of change!

All of these are just the build-up to one of the most emotional ceremonies, the ‘Kanya Daan’. Parents offer their daughter’s hand to the groom. Then ‘Hasta Melaap’ ritual takes place, in which one end of the groom’s shawl is tied to the loose end of the bride’s sari. The priest chants prayers to cement the union as people shower rose petals and rice grains on the couple. The ‘Mangal Pheras’ then follows around the sacred fire where the bride and groom go round and round and promise each other to stay together in sickness and health. The couple then take the seven steps or ‘Sapta padi’, which marks the final, essential ritual of the wedding. The groom ties a ‘mangalsutra’ around the bride’s neck and places vermilion or sindoor on her forehead, formalising their union as partners for life.

The move to a new beginning

While the joyful, fun-filled moments have their own charm, one of the most poignant moments in a Gujarati wedding is the Vidai ceremony, where the bride leaves her maternal home to her new home. Vidai ceremonies are big tear-jerkers, laced with hugs and kisses, as the bride seeks blessings from all elders. It is difficult for anyone watching to be unmoved by the sheer heaviness of the occasion, as the brides steps away from the comfort and security of her parents’ home to a hopeful, yet uncertain, future. If expressed emotions are the raw material for a photographer, then a photographer doesn’t have to look any further than a Vidai to create magic.

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Think of folk music and dance at any special occasions and chances are high that you’d inevitably think of a grand Gujarati wedding. Even amidst all the traditional rituals and customs, the grandeur and colours, there is a certain earthiness that shines through, adding to the vibrancy of the entire event. Gujarati Hindu weddings typically take place at night; so, the challenge for the wedding photographers is to work with the artificial lighting to capture all those magical moments.

Pre-wedding rituals

Like many Hindu weddings, a Gujarati Hindu wedding is a three-step process with elaborate pre-wedding, wedding and post-wedding rituals.

The Engagement ceremony

It all starts with an engagement ceremony, also known as Mangni, Gol Dana, Sagai orChandlo Matli, depending on the region and the socio-cultural background of the family.  As per custom, the bride’s father along with other male members of the family goes to groom’s house with Chandlo Matli. The bride’s father
applies Chandlo (vermilion) on the would-be groom’s forehead to accept and formalize the matrimonial alliance between the two families.

This auspicious beginning is followed by the families exchanging ‘matli‘ – sweets and gifts. In some traditional families, the engagement takes place with the Gol (Gor) Dhanaceremony, where bride’s family presents the groom with a steel container that is filled with sweets, generally jaggery and coriander seeds.

Gujaratis have a reputation of being jovial and fun-loving; and when the elders gather for an engagement ceremony in their traditional finery, it is an occasion worth capturing on film for posterity.

Mehendi, the colourful body art

There is an indescribable beauty about a bride’s palms, hands and feet adorned by intricately created mehendi designs. The mehendi function in a Gujarati wedding takes place a few days before the wedding. This occasion is celebrated with great enthusiasm, especially among ladies, as they gather to have their hands adorned with mehendi. The emotions at a mehendi function vary as you have ladies dancing to popular film or folk music tunes with sophistication, even as they protect their hands so as to not disturb the design. The diversity of emotions on display –amazement at the depth of colour, awe at the intricacy of the design, nervous anticipation while one waits for the mehendi to be removed, to name just a few—is an absolute blessing for any photographer or videographer. This ceremony presents innumerable opportunities for locking in some of the best candid shots of the people who matter at the wedding.

Garba

Garba is one of the most eagerly awaited functions of a Gujarati wedding. Well, what is a Gujarati function without some Garba or Dandiya Raas? The Garba is held a night before the wedding. All members of both families gather to do the Garba dance to celebrate the union. As excitement builds and the dancers get creative with their Dandiya moves, photographic opportunities galore. There is probably no better occasion than the Garba or Dandiya Raas for photographers and videographers to capture the uninhibited expressions of joy and excitement amongst friends and family, that the couple can treasure for a lifetime.

Pithi

A day before the wedding, the Pithi ceremony is performed in the morning by inviting family and friends for a ‘haldi’ ceremony. Mostly, the female members gather to apply turmeric on the body of the bride and groom. This ritual is rooted in the belief that turmeric has properties that bring out a healthy glow on the couples’ faces.

The wedding proper

The main rituals start with much fanfare as the ‘Baraat‘ (a procession of family and friends dancing to the tunes of catchy wedding numbers) arrives. Loud music, shimmery clothes, and groom on the white mare. For a photographer this is a wonderful opportunity to capture the essence of a Gujarati wedding. A Gujarati groom is traditionally dressed in a dhoti-kurta, which is later replaced by a formal suit for the reception while the bride dons a white and red sari to be later replaced by designer Lehengas.

The entry of groom and his family at the wedding place is called Ponkvu. The mother-in-law welcomes the groom with an aarti. The scene is just like a typical Bollywood wedding and a photographer/videographer can capture amusing photos/videos as the groom tries to save his nose from mother-in-law. This ceremony is followed by garland exchange or Jaimala. To make the ritual more fun, friends and relatives of both the couple pick them on their shoulders to make it difficult for both to put garlands.

Madhuparka ceremony follows where mother-in-law washes the groom’s feet and offers honey-infused milk. This ritual is carried to make the groom feel special and cared for. While the ceremony goes on, the bride’s sisters get a chance to steal groom’s shoes, called as ‘Juta Churai’. From the perspective of a photographer, the naughtiness and fun can be captured as sisters anxiously wait for the groom to part with his shoes, and later with a decent chunk of change!

All of these are just the build-up to one of the most emotional ceremonies, the ‘Kanya Daan’. Parents offer their daughter’s hand to the groom. Then ‘Hasta Melaap’ ritual takes place, in which one end of the groom’s shawl is tied to the loose end of the bride’s sari. The priest chants prayers to cement the union as people shower rose petals and rice grains on the couple. The ‘Mangal Pheras’ then follows around the sacred fire where the bride and groom go round and round and promise each other to stay together in sickness and health. The couple then take the seven steps or ‘Sapta padi’, which marks the final, essential ritual of the wedding. The groom ties a ‘mangalsutra’ around the bride’s neck and places vermilion or sindoor on her forehead, formalising their union as partners for life.

The move to a new beginning

While the joyful, fun-filled moments have their own charm, one of the most poignant moments in a Gujarati wedding is the Vidai ceremony, where the bride leaves her maternal home to her new home. Vidai ceremonies are big tear-jerkers, laced with hugs and kisses, as the bride seeks blessings from all elders. It is difficult for anyone watching to be unmoved by the sheer heaviness of the occasion, as the brides steps away from the comfort and security of her parents’ home to a hopeful, yet uncertain, future. If expressed emotions are the raw material for a photographer, then a photographer doesn’t have to look any further than a Vidai to create magic.



Source by ColourPic