So, a few weeks ago now we introduced you to the first of our new awesome resident experts, fantastic Indian Wedding Photographer Bhavna Barratt. The lovely Bhavna is our expert in weddings of all different cultures and we’re thrilled to be able to hand the blog over to Bhavna to share some of her knowledge and experience in Indian weddings and to tell you the basic run-down of everything you need to know!
The Experts: Indian Wedding Photographer Bhavna Barratt
I’m an Afro -Indian; I call myself that because I was born and raised in Tanzania but within the ethnic Indian culture, it’s all manners of crazy because an East African – Indian family is a large one, and a mad one at that. There is chaos, lots of food, loud characters and then more food when we have a family get together, so you can only imagine what a wedding might be like.
Growing up, I saw many weddings, some small and some exquisitely large ones, but each had some things that never changed, the things that were considered normal. My own wedding had 1000 guests. It was totally insane and I can say this because I didn’t know three quarters of the guests there. This is normal.
So what else is normal, you might ask?
Well, apart from parents inviting people that the bride and groom may not really know…(I must explain that this is normal because Indian families are so large and they believe greatly in reciprocating invitations, so if you invited me, I have to invite you back, in that sense it’s a very generous and inclusive culture where everyone is welcome)
1. Indian weddings can be long.
The wedding festivities can last up to 7 days, and can include any of the following events, mehndi, dholki, pithi, Ganesh puja, maiyaan, nanke shak, sanji and the wedding ceremony itself, which can be lengthy. The actual ceremonies for Sikh and Hindu weddings can be anything between 1-3 hours long.
Ok so to confuse you even further, all of this depends also on the religion and the whole process of getting married, i.e. if it’s a Hindu, Muslim or Sikh wedding, each have their own traditions and rituals that are very different to the other. But worry not, you’ll get a taste of what to expect at each of these weddings in upcoming posts. Hakuna matata peeps.
Food is a big part of any Indian wedding. Feeding everyone throughout the day, or the many days …yes all those hundreds of guests….and being fed. Seriously people you don’t know will come up to you and feed you ladoos (an indian sweet) – but this is a warm gesture, it’s normal to be fed.
3. Bright colourful dresses.
Personally ,my favourite thing about an Indian wedding are the dresses. I’m a right girly girl when it comes to dresses. The bride will most likely change at-least once during the day and be adorned in beautiful jewels.
4. Removing shoes.
At most religious places, you will be required to remove your shoes. This is a mark of respect, you can keep your tights/socks on though.
5. Covering your head.
Some ceremonies such as a Sikh wedding may require you to cover your head when you are inside the temple, this applies to men as well. I always carry a pashmina stole with me incase it’s required.
Many people don’t understand this part. When a girl leaves her parents house, in the Indian culture it’s a huge thing, especially as we tend to live with our parents up until we get married, although this trend is changing slightly and more couples are living together before they married…the emotional build up to the departure of the bride is immense and the goodbyes (usually known as Vidai for Hindu’s, Doli for Sikhs and Rukhsati for Muslims) can be intense. So be prepared with some tissues.
7. Lots of dancing.
As with most weddings dancing is a big part of the celebrations. Be prepared to be hoisted up in the air and do some balle balle. I love it.
Expect lots of happy and unexpected chaos. Yes you read that right! Unexpected chaos. I love this happy chaos, it’s one of the reasons I enjoy Indian weddings so much, there is always something happening somewhere that will make you laugh out loud. Chaos is normal.
As overwhelming as they are, at the core of an Indian wedding, just as any non-Indian wedding, is love and family. In the end that is all that matters, right?