Bhavna’s family is from Vadodara, Gujarat, India. These images are from her baby brother’s Grah Shanti, Pithi, and Shaadi.
Hindu weddings are my favourite type of wedding. They are colourful and noisy affairs involving the entire family. A marriage in India (or Pakistan) is considered as a union between the two families and not just the couple. It includes many rituals which span over several days, although in Western countries this may be spread out over several weeks. In comparison, I think Western weddings are boring and stuffy affairs that can seem narcissistic (hello bridezilla) and lacking in colour. In any case, in Hinduism, it is considered inauspicious to wear black or white during marriage rituals.
Performed a day or two before the wedding ceremony, the Grah Shanti is a pre-wedding ritual where a religious ceremony, a pooja, is performed to invite Lord Ganesha into the home to remove all obstacles and bring happiness and prosperity to the couple. The groom’s family performs the groom’s Grah Shanti while the bride’s family performs her Grah Shanti. These events are performed separately. The groom’s family do not attend the bride’s Grah Shanti and vice versa. It is done this way to get rid of individual negative energy or doshas that either of them may possess.
Uday’s Grah Shanti was held at his paternal Uncle’s (Jayesh Raval) home in Delran.
In Hinduism, it is considered very important that all the gods and goddesses attend the marriage ceremony to bless the groom. The ancestors and the forefathers of the bride and groom, living or not, are also invited. A learned priest, sometimes called Maharaj, performed the pooja. As Lord Ganesha is considered to be the remover of all the obstacles, he is invoked during this ceremony. The venue was adorned with icons, flowers, and other elaborate decorations. Close friends and family were invited to bless the groom.
I’m not sure, but I believe The Navagrah (9 planets) pooja was also done to worship the nine planets of the Vedic/Hindu Astrology. As it is believed that the stars and the planets have a significant influence on Hindu lives, this pooja is performed to ensure that the Navagrah or nine planets are aligned for both the bride and the groom to live a happy life together. As the name suggests, Grah means the house and Shanti means peace. Thus Grah Shanti means the peach of the house.
After the pooja, was the Pithi ceremony which for practicality was performed the same day as the Grah Shanti. The Pithi ceremony is traditionally performed the day before the wedding. It involves rubbing a paste made of chickpea flour, turmeric, or rose water on the groom. The family takes turns in putting some of it on. Once it’s applied correctly, the groom may be bathed in rose water.
The Mehndi which is made using Henna, is a temporary tattoo that the bride, family, and friends put on their hands and some on their feet on special occasions but particularly at weddings. Kiran and Shaan both got this done.
The second set of images are from the day of the Shaadi (wedding) itself. We all got dressed and spent some time in the hotel lobby taking family portraits of each other.
In the traditional Gujarati Shaadi, the groom goes to the bride’s house on a horse, while his relatives walk and dance along, often accompanied by a musical band. The groom’s family forms a procession to carry the groom to his bride for the formal wedding ceremony. The parade would include the use of the dhol, a type of drum, to loudly mark the arrival of the groom. Upon arrival at the bride’s home, the groom’s party consisting of immediate family, extended family, close family friends, etc. would call to the bride’s family announcing that the groom has arrived to claim his bride. In modern times, the groom’s party is typically accompanied by a DJ as well as the traditional dhol player. As is tradition, the brides remain out of sight.
Once the groom reaches the bride’s house, he is welcomed by the bride’s mother with an aarti – the waving of a lighted lamp before the person to be honoured. In performing the rite, the bride’s mother rotates the light three times in a clockwise direction while chanting a prayer or singing a hymn. After this, the wedding then takes place according to the Hindu traditions and customs of Gujurat.
After the ceremony, we danced away at the reception. That’s when I put the camera away.