WHAT A WEEKEND!!! I want to start off by saying that it was an extremely difficult task to pick out the "highlights" of this weekend's events because, truly, the entire weekend was packed with fantastic moments! It was also my first experience photographing a Hindu wedding and it went fabulously! Nilam's family was so kind and quick to fill me in on everything that was going on! My assistant, Kate was also a wonderful addition to the day! I really learned a lot this weekend and was so happy to share in the festivities with Nilam and Karl. So here goes, I'll try my best to consolidate a weekend of fantastic events and moments into a short story with photos!!
Nilam and Karl were married on Saturday at the Pine Lake Pavilion in Mebane, NC. The couple met in Chapel Hill where they both are attending graduate school. Karl is studying Computer Science and Nilam is in the School of Public Health. Karl and Nilam enjoy spending time together riding their bikes, playing frisbee (both frisbee golf and ultimate frisbee), beer-touring, and eating!
Let's begin the story of the weekend with Thursday when Nilam got adorned with fantastic henna by Krishna Priya Dasi. Krishna was fabulous and certainly a true artist!!
Nilam's sister, Kavita makes her laugh during the 4 hours of henna application! (below)
Karl's Sister, Tyra and Niece, Abby watch as the henna is applied.
Krishna's ability to concentrate and attention to detail was fantastic to watch! I will also commend Nilam on her ability to sit still for so long! Although, there were the necessary bathroom and stretch breaks!
The finished product (below)
The henna has to dry and stay on the bride's hands and feet overnight, after which it will have soaked into the skin and can be brushed off.
After her henna was done, Nilam hosted a Mendhi party where all her female friends and family members joined together, applied henna, ate pizza, and had a good time in general!
Nilam's friends all helped her dab the henna with lemon sugar cotton balls to help it set properly (below)So that was Thursday! On Friday, I visited The Hindu Society of NC Temple in Morrisville, NC for three pre-wedding ceremonies: A Ganesh Puja, Grah Shanti, and Nilam's brother Neil's janoi or Thread Ceremony. I will give it my best try to explain some of the details of the photographs!
During the Ganesh Puja, Nilam holds flower petals in her hand and offers them as a blessing (above). Both the Ganesh Puja and Grah Shanti are done in advance of the wedding as blessings to the bride before she leaves her family. The traditions of Indian wedding ceremonies were formulated more than 4000 years ago and are steeped in tradition.
During the Grah Shanti: Nilam and her brother, Neil
Nilam's sister, Kavita, was liberal with the amount of paste she put on both her siblings!!
After the Ganesh Puja and Grah Shanti, Nilam's brother Neil had his thread ceremony or janoi. This is a rite of passage for young Indian men.
Neil's family all helps in putting the thread around him (above).
Neil puts his hands up to the sacred fire.
All of Neil's relatives gather around to feed him after the ceremony has been completed! (above)
It is part of the tradition for Neil's uncles to try to catch him as he attempts to run away after his Janoi
They celebrate after they catch him!!
After the afternoon ceremonies on Friday, everyone heads over to Pine Lake Pavilion for dinner (below)
Karl is super stylish in his custom suit! (above)
The bride's family decides to hold a kissing contest on the deck. Nilam and Karl participate (above), but the winners are Bakul and Bharati, Nilam's parents! Bakul (below) celebrates his victory!
Nilam and Karl share a toast with their friends (below)
Nilam's adorable cousin Diya dances for everyone! (above)
The happy couple cuts the cake as practice for the wedding day!
Nilam's cousin enjoys a cupcake! (below)
THE WEDDING DAY!
Saturday began at Moshi Moshi Salon in Chapel Hill, NC where Nilam (and her friend, Sarah) had their hair done for the big day.
Nilam then met her family at their hotel and they helped her get ready. Her mother, Bharati, puts on her wedding sari (below).
Meanwhile, at the Pine Lake Pavilion, Karl and his family members are gathering to prepare for the Barat--a part of the ceremony where the groom walks with his family members (with tambourines and flags in hand) to meet the bride's family. They then, walk all together to the mandap, where the ceremony is performed.
The Barat! Karl is carried like a superstar!
This was perhaps one of my favorite parts of the day! Karl decides to start dancing, inspired by the clapping and tambourine music (above). Nilam's father decides to join in (below) and pretty soon, everyone is having a little dance party!
Karl and Nilam's uncle (below)
Tyra, Karl's sister watches her brother dance and claps along! (below)
Karl, escorted by Bakul and Bharati (Nilam's parents) and followed by all family and friends of both families, heads to the mandap to get married! (below)
Nilam's younger cousins steal Karl's shoes as he takes them off before entering the Mandap (this is tradition).
Nilam's parents bless and welcome Karl into their family in a part of the ceremony known as the Kanya Daan (giving away of the bride)
They wash his feet (below), which is a sign of respect.
Nilam's brother, Neil, is currently in film school and takes a break from being the brother of the bride to videotape some of the day's events! (above)
Before Nilam arrives, three of her cousins along with Karl's niece, Meagan, all bring flower pots to the Mandap (below).
Bridesmaids, Roma, Mital (both cousins), and Kavita (Nilam's sister) walk down the aisle with bouquets (below)
Nilam is escorted by her paternal uncles Paresh and Ashish along with their wives. This part of the cermony is called the Kanya Agaman (below)
Nilam's feet also get washed (above)
Nilam's cousin, Diya, holds her bouquet for her! (below)
The Mandap sat in front of a beautiful weeping willow tree that was swept by the wind (below).
The Hasta Melap or joining of hands unites the bride and groom (above). The two are also tied together (below). The priest reminded the audience that this represents their very tight connection.
The sacred fire is prepared (above).
Karl's family and guests watch the ceremonies take place (below).
The wedding is solemnized before Agni, the sacred fire, which serves as a divine witness to the marriage vows. The couple recites prayers and offers ghee (purified butter) and grain to the fire during the Agni Puja or Fire Prayer (above)
Karl and Nilam then circle the fire while family throws flower petals on them during the Mangal Fera (Fire Circling) (above).
The couple makes their seven steps (Saptapadi) to represent the vows and promises they are making to eachother. Each step represents one of those vows.
Karl's mother, Linda, watches from the Mandap (above).
Everyone shares a laugh together (below)
It's Official! They are finally married!!
Karl touches Bakul's feet as a sign of respect (above)
During the final part of the ceremony, the Ashirvad, the guests and relatives wish the couple luck (above).
Karl and Nilam walk hand in hand to the car after the ceremony (above).
The bride's family tries to stop the car from leaving, showing how much they love her (above).
Neil, Nilam's brother, serves as cheif negotiator!
The Happy Couple!
Nilam and Karl had MANY friends join them Saturday (above)
Nilam and Karl's families (below)
Nilam and her sister, Kavita (above)
Nilam and Karl toast after the ceremony and all the photos are done (above)
Nilam's grandfather rests by the lake (above)
Nilam and Karl share their first dance (above)
Nilam's cousins perform bollywood-style dances for the guests! (below)
What a Party!!!
Karl's family sings a Swedish drinking song and cheers to Nilam and Karl!
Many hugs at the end of the night!
The couple walks home together along the lit pathway at Pine Lake Pavilion (above).
I'd like to make a special thanks to my assistant, Kate Monroe, who came to Mebane to help out and be a part of Nilam and Karl's big day. Below are three of Kate's images.