Multicultural weddings are common in Malaysia, where I live. In my experience of photographing many different types of wedding ceremonies, one of my favorite types of cultural wedding ceremonies are Hindu or Indian wedding ceremonies.
Indian Wedding Ceremony Photography Tips
- Visit the venue beforehand to scout out good locations to position yourself in, evaluate lighting conditions and decide if additional lighting is required. The main ceremony at Hindu weddings typically take place at a manavarai or mandap, a four-pillared stage.
- Know the sequence of the wedding ceremony, so that you can anticipate what will happen next and be ready for it when it does.
- Get to know the family of the bride and groom, so that you know who the important people are. This allows you to take more pictures of them, and be especially alert when significant events occur.
- Ask the bride and groom if they would be able to announce to their guests that there will be professional photographers at the ceremony. This is to prevent well-meaning but over-enthusiastic guests with cameras from blocking the photographers.
- If you are unfamiliar with the customs, ask the bride and groom to give you a run-through so that you are aware which rites are especially significant. Watch out also for rules of attire. For example, a photographer at a Sikh temple is required to wear a bandanna-like head covering of sorts. You are also required to remove your shoes before entering Hindu temples .
Indian weddings are colorful and festive events, to say the least. Did you know that there are a number of different types of Indian wedding ceremonies? Depending on where they originated, the Indian community has distinctions in how their wedding ceremonies are conducted.
Malayalee Weddings tend to be shorter in duration and simpler, with fewer ceremonies.
Tamil weddings are the most common here in Malaysia. One of the most significant rituals is of the groom tying the ‘thali’ or ‘mangalsutra’, a gold necklace around the bride’s neck, to officially declare their status as husband and wife.
Ponnurukku is a gold melting ceremony conducted a few days before the wedding proper. The bride is usually not present at this ceremony, as the bride and groom are not supposed to meet until the wedding day.
The Ceylonese Wedding Ceremony can be recognized by a white cloth laid before the groom who then walks over it during his procession to the temple hall.
Sangeet is a dinner party held before the wedding. Plenty of song and dance to be expected.
Mehndi is where henna is applied on the bride’s hands and feet. This henna, when dried, forms a beautiful pattern. Mehndi is common across the various Indian cultures, so you will come across it in Sri Lankan weddings and Malayalee weddings too.
Maiya is a Sikh pre-wedding ceremony where the bride and groom are blessed with turmeric powder and yogurt.
Anand Karaj is a Sikh wedding ceremony. This is the actual wedding ceremony, so it’s longer and is usually conducted at a gurdwara, or Sikh temple.
Andy Lim is the principal photographer at Emotion in Pictures, a wedding and portrait photography studio in Malaysia. Author of the SimpleSLR Photography Guides, Andy has extensive experience photographing Indian Hindu weddings and other multicultural wedding ceremonies.
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