I was so excited when Sapna and Ashish asked me to be their celebrant. It was my first Indian wedding and a fantastic opportunity to 'get my sari on' and do something a little different. A traditional Hindu Indian wedding lasts for many days and incorporates a number of rituals. Sapna and Ashish had decided they wanted a civil ceremony so we worked together to incorporate their ideas and my research and came up with something very special. One of my favourite Perth photographers, Jason Tey, was there to capture it all.
Sapna and Ashish were both born in Kenya of Indian Hindu ancestry. They could have studied anything, anywhere in the world, but ended up at Curtin university here in Perth, studying pharmacy. Incredibly they didn't meet through their studies, but at a social event attended by many of the Indian community of Perth. Given their profession, of course I had to work into the ceremony that it was 'chemistry that brought them together', which resulted in a few laughs (and a few groans) from the guests.
Sapna and her female family and friends had taken part in a Mehndi (henna) party a few days before the ceremony. The colour of henna represents the essence of love in a marriage, and it is put on the bride’s hands to strengthen the bond of love between the bride and groom. This is a terrific alternative to the usual Western hen's party and you could see the results on Sapna's hands on her wedding day.
Sapna was walked up the aisle by her mother and brother, represting her father who had, sadly, passed away. He was acknowledged in the ceremony though, and Sapna and Ashish lit a latern together that burned brightly throughout the ceremony.
There is a point early in a wedding ceremony where we often ask for parents to stand and give their love and blessings. We did this a little more formally, and according to Hindu tradition, with each parent reading a statement of support for the marriage of their son or daughter.
After the vows, Ashish presented Sapna with a beautiful necklace known as a mangalsutra. The word 'mangalsutra' is derived from the two words, mangal meaning holy or auspicious and sutra meaning thread. It is a sacred necklace that the groom ties around the bride's neck on the day of the wedding, thereby giving her the status of his wife and life mate. From this day on, the wife wears the mangalsutra all her life while her husband is living, as a sign of their marriage, mutual love and goodwill, understanding and faithful commitment to one another. Each black bead in the mangalsutra is believed to have divine powers that protect the married couple from the evil eye and is believed to safeguard the life of the husband. Hindu women are extremely superstitious about the mangalsutra. If it breaks or gets lost it is considered ominous. Therefore, the mangalsutra is much more than a piece of fancy jewellery, but a sacred necklace of love, trust and marital happiness of a Hindu couple - a vital symbol of wedlock. Sapna and Ashish also exchanged rings, but the giving and acceptance of the mangalsutra was a solemn and moving part of the ceremony.
Before I pronounced Ashish and Sapna as 'husband and wife', they parted company and walked to the end of their respective groomsmen and bridesmaids. In a contemporary version of the traditional Hindu blessing of the 'seven steps', I read the following statements as the bride and groom took seven steps towards each other. They finished back together in the middle and the guests clapped and cheered as they kissed for the first time as a married couple. I just loved how Sapna's skirst swished with each step she took towards Ashish.
1. May this couple be blessed with an abundance of resources and comforts, and be helpful to one another in all ways.
2. May this couple be strong and complement one another.
3. May this couple be blessed with prosperity and riches on all levels.
4. May this couple be eternally happy.
5. May this couple be blessed with a happy family life.
6. May this couple live in perfect harmony… true to their personal values and their joint promises.
7. May this couple always be the best of friends.
As you can see from the images, Sapna and Ashish went on to party in true Bollywood style with a costume change and a whole lot of dancing. I think I'm off to purchase my own sari - I'm hoping for a lot more of these weddings, filled with tradition, colour, lots of clapping and of course, lots of love. Thank you to Jason Tey for the beautiful images - I've posted a lot more than I usually do, but they are so incredible, I couldn't help myself. Please have a look at Jason's blogpost to see what happened before and after the ceremony.
Congratulations to Sapna and Ashish.