The sacred fire, or agni, symbolises the divine presence as a witness of the ceremony. Commitments made in the presence of agni are made in the presence of God. New Delhi, 2009
Gaye holud tattva -Is a set of presents for the Bengali bride from the groom’s side. One of the most important gifts is a large 'rohu' (fish) with sindoor (vermilion) & nose ring, accompanied by five little fish to symbolise fertility.
A funny moment at a Gujarati wedding. The mother in law says "watch out and be respectful." Gujarati weddings have a ceremony called Ponkvu or Ponkhana where the groom is welcomed by his mother-in-law, who first performs an aarti and then playfully pulls the groom’s nose. This is a way for the bride’s family to remind the groom that he has come to their doors to marry their daughter and he has to learn to be humble and grateful. Anand, Gujarat 2013
The post-wedding ceremonies involve welcoming the bride to her new home. The first step is considered auspicious. The bride first enters the house after kicking a rice filled pot and stepping in a basin of red vermilion water.
Ladakhi women wear an attractive headgear called Perak, made of black lamb skin studded with semi-precious turquoise stones, covering the head like a cobra’s hood and tapering to a thin tail reaching down the back. For ceremonial purposes, colourful robes in silk and brocade are worn. The village people come to celebrate and witness the union by adorning the couple and their immediate relatives with the sacred scarf, the Kathak as a symbolic gesture saying “We are witnesses to your marriage”.
A bridegroom places a toe ring on the bride’s foot, at a wedding in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The silver toe ring is a sign of marriage in south India. It is not made of gold, which is considered the metal of gods and is traditionally not worn below the waist.
This photo shows a snan before a Bengali wedding. The snan literally means bathing. In this case, it stands for the bathing rituals that the Bengali bride and groom must individually follow on the day of the wedding. A few married women apply turmeric and oil on the hair and body of the bride/groom. After bathing, the bride and groom must wear the new set of clothes that have been presented to them by their in-laws. The worn clothes are later given away to a napti (barber). This Bengali wedding was actually in Delhi and turned out to be one of the most interesting I have covered, despite being very simple, or maybe because it was.
A Punjabi Christian father and his daughter on their way to her wedding in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The bride was born and raised a Christian by her Sikh father and Christian mother, in the North Eastern state of Mizoram. Rajasthan, 2009
A Telugu groom, his toenails painted in colourful nail polish, wears the traditional Khadau, the wooden sandals, used for auspicious occasions, before his wedding in Visakhapatnam. Andhra Pradesh, 2009
A happy bride during her Mehendi ceremony in Jaipur. The Mehndi event is a colorful celebration and the guests often dress in bright colours, sing traditional wedding songs, and dance to popular music. The bride and all of her close family members get the palms of their hands and feet decorated by a professional henna artist. The henna is believed to enhance the bride’s beauty. This ceremony usually takes place a day before the wedding. Jaipur, 2010
A happy moment after a wedding in Udaipur.
A Muslim bride signs the Nikahnama in the presence of the Maulvi (priest) and her close family members and relatives. The bride and groom sign the Nikahnama separately and then the couple are pronounced married. Delhi, 2008
Intricate mehendi and high-fashion designer jewellery bangles (choora) decorate the bride's hands. Udaipur, 2011
A Nihang Sikh groom on his horse before his wedding in Punjab. The Nihang are an armed Sikh order, also referred to as Akali Nihangs. Traditionally known for their bravery and ruthlessness in the battlefield, the Nihang once formed the guerrilla squads of the armed forces of Ranjit Sukkarchak. Early Sikh military history was dominated by the Nihang, known for their victories where they were heavily outnumbered. Punjab, 2004
The groom, accompanied by his sister, is seated on a decorated elephant. Udaipur, 2010.
The old Kashmiri Pandits reinforced their racial and social identity by refusing to marry outside their community. At a traditional arranged marriage of a Kashmiri Pundit couple, the boy and girl would see each other first time only during the Lagan (the actual wedding ceremony) and exchange glances through a mirror. This old tradition is kept even today even with more liberal families where the couple had a chance to meet prior to the wedding.
A cloth veil, placed between the bride and groom during their wedding in Delhi, is removed at the auspicious moment to symbolise their new life as a couple.
The musical evening before a Kashmiri Pundit wedding is known as Bach Nagma Jashan. A male dancer known as bachcha (child) accompanies the professional musicians invited for the event. He wears a multi-colored, long-flowing frock, and has painted cheeks to look like a woman. The bachcha takes turn dancing with everyone, including those who are uninterested in dancing. They dance to the same ritualistic song through the night.
This photo features a dance party that's taking place during a destination wedding in Jaipur. Many Indian couples living abroad choose to come back to India for their wedding. Organising a destination wedding in India is not only a good opportunity to come back home, but also proves to be cheaper than a wedding in the west. This way, all the relatives and friends who still live in India, can also attend the wedding. Rajasthan, 2010
In India, turmeric is known as haldi, and is considered very holy. Its yellow colour is believed to be auspicious, according to Hindu tradition. The Haldi ceremony is one of the most significant traditions of Hindu marriages. The application of turmeric is meant to beautify the bride and groom, and give a glow to the skin. The ceremony is usually performed one day before the wedding as turmeric powder is mixed with milk or almond oil along with sandal wood powder and applied to bride and bridegroom. Jaipur, 2014