Traditional Hindu Wedding
I recently had the honor of being hired to photograph a traditional Hindu wedding at the Bharatiya Hindu Temple north of Columbus, Ohio on May 21, 2005.
I did not really know what to expect. I refrained from bringing my laptop computer because I did not know if it would be proper—only to find, on arrival, that someone had a laptop on the temple floor connected to a video camera and the internet, broadcasting the event live to friends and family back in India. The temple itself, too, had a computer; and it seemed that the majority of the people present has digital cameras, video cameras and cell phones. As such, I learned that the Hindus I was involved with were very laid-back.
The first thing that I noticed while photographing the event was the differences this wedding had with traditional Christian weddings. Whereas the Christian wedding is usually very "stiff” and everyone has a segregated place, the Hindu wedding seemed to be much more inclusive for the audience. The family atmosphere was much more prevalent than in weddings I am accustomed to. Throughout the entire ceremony, friends and family approached the bride and groom without fear that they were interrupting. I did not notice any point where conversation was taboo—all could speak when and as they wished. Children roamed without consequence.
I did enjoy the ceremony as a unique experience. I did, however, make the mistake of walking into the temple at one point with shoes on—something that you are not supposed to do. I also neglected to realize a key moment in the ceremony—when the priest was "tying the knot” (quite literally tying the bride and groom’s apparel together) I thought he was simply adjusting their clothing—and I missed this key moment. Luckily, I captured most of the moments of the wedding, which lasted several hours.
The family graciously invited me to eat some traditional Indian food, which I quite liked. I also found everyone to be friendly, courteous and open. Afterwards, when talking to the groom’s uncle, I learned that I was not the only one present who did not understand the chanting of the priest—he said that for the most part, no one knew what the priest had been chanting.