The San Francisco Bay Area is delightfully multicultural and that brings with it wonderful wedding traditions from around the world and especially from South Asia. Hindu and Sikh wedding are brilliant with color, rich tradition, spiritual and joyful. And all of that can take place over two or three days. These are traditions where the bride doesn’t wear white. For her, red is usually reserved. All of the other women attending choose different and also brilliant colors. It’s a riotous rainbow of color and sparkle. In the days before and after the big occasion as well as the ceremony itself there is so much going on, some small and some larger facets to these jewels of weddings. All of these moments you’ll want to re-live through your wedding photos.
A photographer who understand all of these intricacies of South Asian weddings and also knows how to best capture them is simply a must. Your photographer will take many, many candid photos and all of the desired posed photos too.
Here at IQ photo, we’ve had the pleasure of photographing these large and wonderful weddings. We’re sharing just of bit of what we’ve learned about Hindu and Sikh weddings. Sikh and Hindu brides, of course, know all about their own traditional weddings. Here is a bit of the flavor of Hindu and Sikh weddings. We’ll start with Hindu and follow on with Sikh traditions.
There are several dozen significant elements in a Hindu wedding that are must-have photos. From the Mendhi (senna hand and foot painting) ceremony the day before through the singing and dancing—the Sangeet—that evening are all memories to savor and save. The first part of the ceremony, the veneration of Lord Ganesh is a moment in time to cherish. Following the exchange of garlands, the Mandap (the enclosure for the ceremony) is blessed. Another colorful and sweet moment is the application of a red dot to the groom’s forehead. Of course, you’ll want to see the bride escorted to the Mandap by her maternal uncle.
The ceremony asking the blessing of the planets follows, the groom is given milk and honey and his feet are washed, the groom and bride’s right hands are joined while the groom’s father pours water over their hands. The bride and groom take seven vows in Sanskrit, the bride and groom circle the fire from four to seven times, and they then turn to the north star. At some time during the ceremony a coconut will be broken open, purified butter will be thrown onto the fire, the bride will receive jewelry.
The newlyweds receive blessings from the priest, then their parents, and elder members of both families proceed to the Mandap to greet the new couple. The following day is devoted to a reception celebration. That’s a full, three-day wedding! A lot to experience and all of those memories will be captured for you only by a sophisticated, experienced photographer. At IQ photo we thrive on sharing this celebration with you and being able to deliver all of the photos your heart desires.
On to Sikh weddings which have similarities to Hindu weddings yet different and distinct traditions.
Sikh weddings are big, boisterous, and chaotic with as many as 600 to 1,000 guests. The wedding day is long and full of many ceremonial facets.
The Sikh (Punjabi) wedding is also a multi-day affair. The day before the wedding the bride will have her hands and feet decorated in henna designs in her Mehndi ceremony. She even gets designs on the bottom of her feet.
The day of the ceremony begins with ceremonies in the groom’s home. There are traditional prayers, the groom receives a ceremonial sword, and light snacks and tea are served. In a very sweet moment, the groom is fed traditional sweets by his mother.
While the bride’s family has gathered at the place of the wedding, the groom reaches the parking lot where he mounts a white horse who leads the parade of the groom and his attendants to take him to join with the bride’s family. Here, both families meet and say the traditional Ardas prayer. The groom serves Karah Prashad (a sweet made of butter, sugar, and wheat) to all. Again, everyone enjoys light snacks and tea.
On to the Gurdwara (the religious building) where friends and relatives are seated on the floor and singing traditional hymns.
The groom and his parents enter and he presents a cash offering as well as a Rumala, a new silk covering for Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh scriptures). The groom sits in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, facing his family and guests.
Next, the bride and her family enter the Gurdwara. The bride sits down beside the groom and waits as people continue to arrive.
To be begin the ceremony proper, the officiant first ascertains that both the bride and groom are Sikh.
The reading of the four Lavans or promises follows. The officiant reads one at a time and the couple goes around the Guru Granth sahib with the groom leading and holding on to one end of a scarf and the bride holding the other end. Ragis sing the stanza again. In the fourth and last Lavan, girls from the bride’s family walk around with her.
The religious ceremony is formally concluded with the entire congregation standing for the final prayers (Ardas) of the marriage ceremony.
Well wishes and gifts of a cash offerings in their offered to the couple. The couple may formally decline these saying that they had received the ultimate gift, the blessing of the Guru.
Family and guests then leave the Gurdwara hall and enter the Langer (the community kitchen), sitting on the floor as a sign of humility. All enjoy a meal in the spirit of equality and humility. Once again, sweet and delicious Karah Prashad is served to all.
Sikh and Hindu wedding traditions are immense celebrations. We absolutely look forward to every opportunity to photograph one of these opulent events. We’ll be there with you for all of your requests and we’ll be unobtrusive at the same time.