Is married to Lord Ganesh
A colorful Indian-German wedding in Nagpur with Alina Atzler Photography - 2nd day
What a start yesterday! Are you already looking forward to the second day in India? Today we go to the traditional Indian wedding celebration and photographer Alina Atzler takes us on the journey again and reveals to us the importance of the Indian wedding rituals! Have fun!
Well, it's getting serious, I thought. I hardly slept that night. I had already edited the pictures from the day before and knew that the alarm clock would go off far too early for me. I put on my Indian outfit and it was still pitch dark outside when the bride picked me up at 5.15 a.m. For me, the day started like any other wedding: with the bride getting ready.
I have now been in India for 48 hours and no less overwhelmed by this very strange world. I was lucky enough to see several countries in the world, was in Malawi, far from any tourist infrastructure, but India was once again different, more intense. I remember the feeling of driving past people sleeping on the street, cows looking for something to eat and then entering the beauty salon. A stark contrast, but that too is India and as difficult as it was because of the poverty that was there: I wanted to give everything to document the most important day in the lives of Prajakta and Haiko with photos for the next 19 hours.
Getting Ready gave me security. The process was identical to that in Europe. The sun rose, outside life awoke and my anticipation grew.
The next ritual was waiting and we drove to the location. Incidentally, a different one than the day before. This location had to provide space for many more people. The first ceremonies took place with approx. 80 guests, the reception with approx. 700.
From here on, however, I no longer took photos alone, but as a team. None of the boys spoke English, but we communicated with our hands and feet. In all honesty, the mutual respect we showed each other as differently booked photographers was extraordinary and really took photography to the next level. Each of the four photographers always gave me signs when something was particularly important. Then there were all the family members who always shouted 'Alina, Alina' to tell me if I absolutely couldn't miss something or, because a lot of things happened at the same time with the bride and groom, but separately from each other, they led me from A to B. Everyone tried to create the best possible framework for photos.
The wedding started with a ‘Worship of Lord Ganesh’So that the wedding can take place without any problems. This ritual only took place with the bride, her parents and a priest. Several offerings were set up in a small corner and to this day I remember the really impressive chants of the priest. Incidentally, at this ritual the only ‘spectators’ were the non-Indian guests.
This is where the bride and groom officially meet for the first time. A cloth is stretched out and the bride and groom are each standing on one side. The most important family members are close to the bride and groom and wait for a very specific point in time. At eleven o'clock sharp (at the stroke of the Muhurt) the priest calls out the last verses of the Mangalashtaka. This is the most important moment: this is where the shawl falls and the bride and groom "sees" each other for the first time (the first look, so to speak). The family members standing around throw rice, flowers and holy water. The bride and groom put wreaths of flowers on each other and this is considered the first step towards marriage.
I was drenched in sweat. The ceremony took place on a small stage, everyone jostled towards the bride and groom to get the best view. At the same time, I knew: the more bustle and murmur, the closer we got to the climax of the ceremony. It was like that. When the cloth fell between the bride and groom, it became loud and the guests were beside themselves with joy.
Then the bride and groom changed their clothes again (a total of seven times, if I counted correctly) and after an extensive meal, the highlight of the wedding followed with a series of different rituals.
This took place in a small "pavilion". Bride and groom, as well as the priest sit in the pavilion, the guests sit around it to be able to catch a glimpse of the bride and groom from all sides and in addition we photographers positioned ourselves around the two. That was the most exhausting part of the wedding and I think the bride and groom were also at the peak of emotions here. The groom in particular had to repeat many sentences in Hindu, which sometimes led to tears of joy and warm laughter.
In this ceremony, the father officially hands the bride to the groom. The groom takes the hand of the bride and the father makes holy water pour over the hands of the bride, groom, and mother of the bride.
Next, the groom puts a necklace on the bride. This is to be equated as a sign with our rings as a symbol of marriage.
The seven rounds that the newlyweds have to go around the fire and pray to provide the seven most important foundations for marriage: ‘food, strength, wealth, happiness, progeny, pleasure of enjoying various seasons and immortal friendship’.
Then the bride and groom stand opposite each other and touch the forehead of the other. This symbolizes that from now on decisions will be made.
At the end of the 'wedding' there were, like us, congratulations, tears of joy and many smiling faces.
The most exciting thing about these rituals for me: Weddings are silent in Germany. Nobody speaks, except for the speaker, everyone is sitting in their seats, when a child cries, most parents are ashamed and run out. In India it was very different. Because this ritual in particular takes a lot of time, the guests get something to eat in between, drink tea, talk to each other, laugh, shout something into the ceremony. The priest himself took selfies in between and everything was a great mix of traditional and casual weddings.
When were the two married now? Yes, good question. What the kiss is for us to symbolically seal the marriage was a string of different gestures at this Indian wedding. The greatest part of intimacy, however, was touching the forehead.
Incidentally, that was also a big challenge for me with the portraits. My pictures thrive on closeness and touch. I rarely take a picture without my couples having some kind of physical contact.
In addition, the rings are not the symbol of marriage here, but a chain.
Even if I mostly didn't understand a word, gestures were enough to understand what it is about, what the purpose of every ritual is.
I have a great fascination for cultures. Something that has been created over centuries and is still in existence just touches me. I had this feeling the whole time at the wedding.
In the evening there was the reception. That was what everyone always talks about: aren't there always 1000 people at Indian weddings? There weren't 1000, but several hundreds.
The reception took place on a soccer field-like place, the outer edge was separated with towels and there was food everywhere. I had a break during this time and was able to enjoy the excellent food. My Indian colleagues documented group photos for several hours: the bride and groom stood on the stage and accepted congratulations. Then one group picture after the other was taken on the stage. In Germany, the congratulations take a good 30 minutes with 80 guests, you can extrapolate how long this congratulation dragged on.
The bridal couple did not enjoy their good buffet until late at night. Marked by tiredness, we postponed the closing ceremony by two hours the next day so that we all got a little more sleep.
Thank you very much Alina for the wonderful pictures and fascinating insights into Indian wedding customs. I am incredibly impressed with how you have mastered capturing the special moments of this day in completely strange processes! Chapeau!
I'm already looking forward to tomorrow when we head out for the final wedding anniversary!
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