The Big Fat Indian Wedding From The Eyes of A Traveller
Did you know that india’s Big Fat Wedding Market is more than $ 50 Billion ?
Photography By: Ankan Lahiri
Welcome to the fusion of Travelling and Wedding…”trawedusion”. The season is right at the eternal door of two souls…and you know what exactly I’m talking about…the most vicious man made institution under the sun captured in one frame. For a traveller who seek to capture the most brilliant side of Indian culture, his presence at the big fat Indian wedding is an ultimatum. The best way to collect the moments that those two souls weave is to capture them candidly. So knock the “candid photographer” in you and blend with the gala event and rich traditions… those which are preserved like unique gems. The traveller in you will come to know that wedding in India goes beyond being just a mere unity of two souls.
The adjective “fat “is often used to describe an Indian Wedding on grounds of the exotic preparation, mammoth reception arrangements and the congregation of hundreds of people for one holy reason. Starting from ceremonial rituals like sangeet, bhet, haldi, mehndi, charath, barati, kaleera , jaimala, maang bharna, saat phere, kanya dan, and vidai to some exotic cuisine belonging to different culture such as bhetki maacher paturi in a Bengali wedding, Kaddoo ki sabzi and Litti Chokha in a north Indian wedding, tandoori in a Punjabi wedding, Dal-bati-churma in a Rajasthani wedding, Undhiyo in a Gujarati wedding, Batate wada in a Marathi wedding, and Benne Dosa in a south Indian wedding everything seem to be treasure trove for a traveller who is unfamiliar with the traditional Indian wedding. So there goes another BHUKKAR… in other words a traveller whose eyes strains towards the menu and mouth waters standing at the buffet. These activities observed in an Indian wedding will continue to fascinate travellers from far or near, every time and always who chance upon an Indian wedding… INVITED OR UNINVITED.
The most beautiful feature of an Indian wedding is that it is polychromatic and all the shades of our cultures are deeply embedded in our weddings, because we don’t marry as Indian but as Marathis, Punjabis, Muslims, Bengalis and the alike. A traveller who lands in any Indian Wedding is sure to present himself with a lot of sweet and funny customs and bathe in the sentiments of the tradition.
Types of Indian Weddings
A traveller would be spellbound seeing the different traditions and rituals encompassing the occasion and the sublimity with which they are performed.
The first step in a Maratha wedding is Lagnaach Bedi, or finding a suitable bride. It is followed by Baithak , where the two families meet for matrimonial discussions. Then is the religious part or Guna Milana where the bride’s and groom’s astronomical compatibilities are considered. The Marathi Wedding is pretty simple but is sure to grab your attention by its opulence. The ceremony rings the bell with engagement, which is followed by the Simat Puja, where the bride’s parents wash the groom’s feet with water at their own place. Next is the Sankalp ceremony, a ritual that features throwing of unbroken rice on the couple. The couple then takes holy vows and is blessed by the elders. On the wedding day the traveller’s eyes will come across several rituals (rasam) like Ganapatipujan, Punyavacahan, Devdevak, Gaurihar Puja, Lagna Muhurt, Kanyadan, Akshataropan, Mangalsutra bandhan, vivah hom, lajja hom, and Saptapadi. The most interesting and emotional part is the Kanyadan rasam… whereas vivah hom, lajja hom, and saptapadi are lights for candid photography.
If you have been travelling and feel like taking rest in the house of the bride or groom, then a Punjabi marriage is sure to torture you! The Punjabi wedding is as musical and pompous as they themselves are. There are two separate sets of customs for the bride and the groom encompassing engagements, applying turmeric, and mehendi. Two of the most remarkable customs would be Raat Jaga where the bride’s relatives spend the whole night with fun and music and Sorbala, where the groom’s relatives dress like the groom and its fun. An explorer can treat his five senses to all the interesting things that a Punjabi marriage has to offer -be it the grandeur of the decoration, flavour and taste of ghee and kebabs and the grooving music of dhols… and whooping the ambiance with BHANGRA.
Every couple dreams of having a marriage as imperial and majestic as a conventional Rajput or Rajasthani marriage. The Rajasthani Wedding or Marwari Wedding is royal and maintained by the parameters of heritage. Rajasthan itself is a land of surreal and exotic places and would charm the travellers. A proper conventional Rajasthani wedding is actually gauged with money. An invitee or a traveller from a different culture will be overwhelmed by the hospitality of a Rajput family. The grace, luxury and wonderful venues will fill the travellers’ heart with a cordial reception. A little break from the rituals might allow you to spend some time in awe of the romantic and chivalrous architectures resonating from the walls of the heritage assets and palaces. The concept desert marriages is also exciting for a traveller who can only think of indoor marriages, hired musicians and improvised sets. What can be more romantic than tying the knot with the shimmering sun as a witness? A stranger would not like to miss the sight of a bride hiding behind a long choli .The family members celebrate among themselves in different groups or mehefils.
Bengali marriages are also not far away from the fever of heritage marriages. The Burdwan Raja’s palace is a fine site to host marriages. If you are in Bengal for the first time and are invited to a Bengali wedding, you surely will fall in love with the culture and rituals of the Bengalis. The hall rooms and the beautiful chandeliers speak volumes about the ancient times. The same thing can be said about the Marble palace , a 19th century mansion in North Kolkata.The aura of ancient times, authentic Bengali recipes, a bride in heavy gold jewellery and lots and lots of rituals is sure to enrich the diary of an explorer with unforgettable memories. The bride and the groom are made to feel like a king and a queen on this day. If you are invited to a Bengali Wedding …be sure the next days will be full of entertainment and hospitality which would make you feel at home. The bride and the groom are covered with turmeric the day before and fed curd before dawn. Traditionally and ideally the bride should come in a mighty palanquin or palki.The bride and groom are not allowed to see each other until half of the customs are over. You would not like to miss any moment and replenish it time and again from the pages of memory.
Photo Courtesy: Sudipta Dey, Jodhpur Park, Kolkata
Although the wedding rituals in a Gujarati wedding are more or less similar to a Marathi wedding but the traveller can easily distinguish a Gujarati wedding from the attire, ambiance, music, dance, and cuisine. Ethnicity is the key when it comes to a Gujarati wedding… the bride draped in traditional red bandhani saree and the groom in dhoti kurta. With changes of time the tradition has been overleaped by different shades of bridal sarees and lehangas and grooms often opt for stylish western kurta pyjamas. But the ambiance is fanned with a rich décor and fan fare. One of the most unique part of a Gujarati wedding is ‘garba’… when both the family members gathers before the wedding day for a grand celebration with dandiya sticks to dance in pairs. Another striking feature in a Gujarati wedding that any traveller will come across is Chero Pakaryo, which is an exclusive Gujarati custom. It is a kind of amusement after the serious traditional ritual. In this custom, the groom is made to tug the sari of his mother in law as she passes from the Mandap in way that it looks he is asking the bride’s family for gifts.
Rich in tradition but not as flashy as any other Indian wedding… the Tamil wedding is generally followed by vedic rituals and simple dress code, usually bare-chested with a veshti for grooms and sarees or Madisaar for brides. Before nischayathartham – The Engagement Ceremony, there is a procession called Janavasam where the groom arrives to the wedding venue in a decorated carriage to receive the ‘veshti’ for nischayathartham. The engagement ceremony is followed by Kashi Yatra, where the groom steps out of the marriage hall with an umbrella, a fan, a walking stick, and a towel containing dhal and rice tied to his shoulder. That’s the most unique part of a Tamil wedding, which is followed by exchange of garlands, oonjal, Kannika Dhanam, Kankana Dhaaranam, Mangalyadharanam, Sapthapadi, Pala Dhanam, Pradhana Homam, Lajja Homam, Nalangu, Jayadhi Homam, Pravesa Homam, and Sesha Homam.
The Muslim wedding, they say is different, it is a religious obligation. The bride’s family and the groom’s family sit on the either side of a curtain. Their marriage relies on commitment or Qubool and is witnessed by minimum two witnesses’. Another most interesting part of a Muslim wedding is ‘wazwan’, which is a multi-course meal in Muslim Kashmiri cuisine. In general a Muslim wedding is famed for its sybaritic ambiance… with a rich blend of tradition that includes décor, costumes, and cuisine.
A Christian Marriage is a relaxation to the eyes .It is a movie which a traveler would like to be a part of. The bride traditionally wears a white gown …her long flowing veil is flanked by Flower girls, Brides maids and most importantly the maid -of- honour and the groom dressed formally with his set of pals. The two take vows of marriage in front of the priest with the cherry on the cake being…the two planting a kiss on one another.
The Food Quotient
A lot of other communities have a lot of rituals but what is common about them is maintaining the food quotient. When it comes to food, we Indians are real patriotic and extremely conservative. Apart from catering to the multifarious tastes of the boarders, the hotel industry also needs to cater to the taste of the marriage parties. Among loads of mouthwatering dishes some noteworthy would be Amti bhaat and Varan Bhat of the Marathis, Misti doi and Rasgollas of the Bengalis. Traditional Rajasthani wedding dish is rich and cooked in pure ghee and includes papar,dal batti and gate ki sabji.The plum cake and wine distinguish Christian wedding recipe from all others.
The Theme Wedding Concept
Photo: Bollywood Theme
Photo Courtesy: www.bridalguide.com
Which traveler would not like to kill two birds with one arrow? An amazing marriage at an exclusive locale is just icing on the cake. And the top up is if there’s a theme.
Hence the selection of a proper venue is paramount to a successful marriage.
The concept of theme wedding and destination wedding has newly evolved keeping in view the changing tastes of the modern generations. There are numerous event management companies that give shape to a couple’s dream of holding a marriage in tune with a theme. Such themes may vary from colour-based themes to flower based themes, from mughal wedding themes to bollywood theme, and from vintage to rural themes. Moreover themes like indoor garden, circus, Go Glam with Bulbs & Sequins, and Origami are mostly found in cities like New Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore. Destination marriages are characterized by wedding a hundred miles away from home that may be sea, valley or even a swimming pool area. A change in ambience gives a different dimension to the occasion.
Photo: Moroccan Theme
Photo Courtesy: www.subhmuhurat.co.in
Indian Honeymoon Destinations … not for the traveller
Finally the couple gets a relief from all the knots of customs and flies off for a honeymoon, a romantic escapade post the wedding rituals. Mostly places enriched with scenic beauties that provide solace and scope to breed love are chosen this reason. This loved customary brings the couple back to reality where customs and conventions actually rule our entire lives. However lengthy, muscular and heavy Indian Weddings might be we long to be a part of them and keep amusing the travellers and their insatiable quest to sense the booming heart of our beautiful wedding celebration. Some of the popular honeymoon destinations in India are the Andaman and Nicobar Islands; the soft sandy beaches of Goa; Munnar, Alleppey, and Kochi in Kerala; Ooty in Tamil Nadu; Jaisalmer and Udaipur in Rajasthan; Agra in Uttar Pradesh; Manali in Himachal Pradesh; Gulmarg, Pehlgam, and Srinagar in Kashmir region; Gangtok in Sikkim; Darjeeling in West Bengal; Nainital in Kumaon region; and Shillong in Meghalaya. Some of the off beat honeymoon destinations in India are the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat; the barren beauty of the Ladakh region and Lahaul-Spiti region; unexplored Arunachal Pradesh; and the rich biosphere of Khasi and Garo hills in Meghalaya.
You may like to read:
– Top 15 exotic wedding destinations in India
They say the journey is better than arriving at the destination. However if it is perceived through the eyes of a traveller and the travel is for attending any wedding then the novelty of every wedding will persist to be captivating. It is experiencing the life in a different world for a couple of days. Far away from the chores of life, a traveler picks some moments of gems and cherishes it for the rest of his life.