So, after several days of traveling across the country enjoying a mini-vacation of sorts and taking several photographs of the sights, we arrive in Chandigarh to begin all the festivities and pre-wedding ceremonies that surround a traditional Sikh union.
It all started with a warm welcome for the bride and groom as our bus pulled up. However, with so many mini events to fit in before Saturday’s wedding, things quickly moved along. A brief prayer ceremony is followed by a well-known South-Asian tradition; the Mehndi party. Here the bride receives intricate, henna-based designs on her hands and feet. This is closely followed by the Choora where red and ivory bangles are gifted to the bride along with other items from the family. Interwoven into all of this is the Batna, where yellow turmeric paste is placed on the face, hands and feet as a way to prepare the person for married life. This is done for both the bride and groom. For two days prior to the actual wedding all these activities are occurring in concert with family visits, expansive lunches and dinner spreads, and a house party in the basement that practically never ended. Perhaps the true highlight of this time frame comes in the form of the Sangeet. In the past a Sangeet was more of a ladies tradition, similar to a bridal shower but more elaborate. Nowadays it has blossomed into a full blown reception-like party that is usually conducted in a very large venue for all to enjoy. In this case an entire neighborhood park was reserved and tented for Reet + Julie’s Sangeet. Hundreds of guests were invited to eat, sing and dance. Finally the party takes to the streets…literally! Also known as the Jaggo, at the end of the night the family takes the couple, along with all their guests, to dance and sing in the streets. A maternal aunt carries a copper vessel on her head and leads the way through the neighborhood to visit friends that have decorated their homes in honor of the couple. The bride and groom are welcomed with sweets and drinks. They dance there for a while and then move on to the next home for the same process. All along, music is played for all to hear.
Actually, there’s so much more occurring. It’s almost impossible to list or show everything. Nonetheless here’s a large sampling of all the fun we’ve just described. Stay tuned for Part 3…the wedding and the reception!
Through the past few years we’ve had the opportunity to cover multiple weddings across various locations. Traveling has always been a passion for us. This past Spring we enjoyed covering a beautiful island wedding in Jamaica and we always had our sights on going to Europe at some point to photograph a couple there. However, little did we ever expect to be commissioned for a wedding in India. Nonetheless that’s exactly what happened. Many of you may remember Reet+Julie from last Spring’s engagement session. A truly wonderful couple, with a great love for the outdoors. It just so happens we were extended the privilege of covering their wedding in Chandigarh, India. Words are hard to come by when describing how incredible this experience was for us. Talk about seeing life in a whole new light!
Therefore before we move any further, we want to send our sincere thanks to the Singh and Knoll families for placing their confidence and trust in us and bringing us halfway across the world to cover their special occasion. We will always be grateful for this opportunity!
In total we spent 8 days in India. The first 4 days gave us the opportunity to ride along with the bride and groom as they led a group of friends and family across the country for a tour of some of the main sights. The last 4 days were set aside for all the wedding ceremonies and festivities. As I’m sure everyone can imagine, a trip of this length and magnitude generates so many images. In order to illustrate this week-long event properly we’re going to break up this wedding into 3 separate blog posts.
Today’s post will focus on all the pre-wedding travel. This includes a safari in the National Chambal Valley Sanctuary, home to the highly endangered freshwater Gharial Dolphin and Marsh Crocodiles. Then a visit to the city of Agra and the Taj Mahal; along with a stop at the Old Agra Fort. Afterwards we make our way up through New Delhi in route to Chandigarh. In between we get to see the beauty of everyday life in India. From the humble street markets where children handle full grown cobras for extra change to the magenta-orange sunsets over temples to water buffaloes and cows running freely in highway traffic. It’s never a dull moment, it’s authentic and it’s precious in its own way. Hopefully you’ll get a feel for life in India with some of these images.
Please stay tuned for more blog posts featuring all the pre-wedding ceremonies and the wedding itself!