Some time ago I was blessed to be chosen as the official wedding photographer for a traditional Indian wedding here in Austin, Texas. I say it was a blessing because it was something new and amazing for me to experience. As a westerner with a Judeo-Christian upbringing, I never had the opportunity to experience such an event while growing up in rural Texas. And it made me realize that no matter what culture sponsors a wedding, there is almost always a common feeling of love and commitment that can be felt between bride and groom and amongst the families.
The Indian Wedding that I photographed was held at a small Hindu Temple located just outside of Austin simply called Austin Hindu Temple. It is my understanding that many Indian weddings frequently last several days or longer, but the part that I photographed lasted only one day.
The ceremony that I photographed began with a special groom ceremony which started around 6 am in the morning at the Hindu Temple. It should be said that most of what I witnessed throughout the day was through observation only, since I don’t speak the language that was being used by the priests and facilitators during the wedding. And that wasn’t a big deal anyway, because as a photographer, my mind is always focused on the visual art and beauty which only the eye sees in a wedding – or at least what the vision of what I want the viewer to see.
The groom’s initial ceremony lasted around 1 hour and included burning incense, using various kinds of foods, leaves and other items for the ritual. The groom told me that he and the bride (who he doesn’t see before the primary ceremony, which comes later in the day) are required to fast for some time prior to the ceremony.
After the groom’s ceremony there was a break which followed with preparations for the primary ceremony, which was later held outdoors, beneath a tent. At this point the bride had begun her individual preparation for the ceremony which included several priests performing rituals including burning of incense, decorative fruits and leaves and other items (similar in some ways to the groom’s individual ceremony). At this point her hair and makeup were finished with a great dedication to detail. Her hands were covered in beautiful henna designs and she was surrounded by friends and family looking on during her individual ceremony.
After a few more rituals with the groom outside next to a fire pit and then with the groom beneath the main wedding tent, it was time for bride to be escorted out by her friends.
The main ceremony was unbelievably colorful. The bride and groom changed clothes from simple robes into amazingly colorful, decorative costumes. All the bride and groom’s family and friends gathered around the open air tent which was itself decorated with brightly colored flowers and other décor. The primary ceremony included priests reading and chanting from religious texts, burning of incense and other items, a fire ceremony, the bride and groom reading vows and promises to one another, friends and family offering gifts and more.
Although it was by far the longest wedding I’ve ever photographed (around 9 hours of consecutive shooting), it was a very rewarding and spiritual experience to be a part of such a wonderful day. I was glad to be a part of something so meaningful and beautiful for such a wonderful couple.
You can view the entire wedding on my old website Here!