Posts Tagged ‘drum’

A South-Indian Wedding

December 8th, 2009

Entrance to Bangalore Palace (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO200, 1/800sec)

Quite a few of you have been waiting for the Bangalore Wedding pictures.

So here they are!

As one of my fellow guests said: “Our eyes were full of colour”. I think the pictures speak for themselves so I’ll be keeping comments to a minimum.

I may just give some context - shamelessly lifted from a card we were given at one of the events which explained the festivities, rituals and their significance in brief.

The wedding ceremony starts with the bride being escorted in a procession to the Mantapam (the decorated stage on which the ceremony is to take place). Friends and family take part. The procession is led by bridesmaids carrying brass pots filled with rice and coconut on the left and bridesmen carrying ceremonial umbrellas on the right. I understand that generally, they are dressed in all manner of colours, but this time was different – the bridesmaids were in beautiful green saris, and the men in white silk robes. For the most part, that is. If I’m not mistaken there was one bridemaid alone who hadn’t been issued with her green sari – and wore a beautiful white one instead. The men also had one stand-out: Me. On my arrival, one of the bride’s uncles pulled me aside and handed me a ceremonial umbrella. When I objected, pointing out the red kurtha I wore, he said: “nevermind that, we want you here”. I couldn’t begin to express how touched I was by that gesture – at being asked to participate in, and not simply attend, my friend’s wedding.

Once the bride is settled on the Mantapam, and the groom arrives, he too is escorted along with his friends and family to the Mantapam in a procession led by the same bridesmaids and men. That complete, we were all led onto the Mantapam as well, and sat to the right of the stage to watch the ceremony. The wedding hall was massive, with seating perhaps for thousands in front of the stage, but I felt that it was a cosy ceremony in which there was just us, we few on the Mantapam.

Evidently, I took no pictures of the processions and the initial part of the ceremony as my camera wasn’t with me, and I couldn’t anyway. Ali – am so grateful to him – the fine gent to whom I’d handed the camera for safekeeping – came up to the stage and handed me the camera early on. Thanks to him, I got the chance to take these pictures you see here. And from a different angle to that of the photographers clustered stage front.

I was struck by how similar some of the rituals and concepts evident in this beautiful South Indian wedding are to those in other cultures. For instance – the raining of Akshatha (rice) on the happy couple – common to Christian and Muslim weddings. Also, the three rounds the couple effected around the holy fire during the wedding ceremony proper, which echoes the three rounds around the altar in some Christian (notably Orthodox and Greek Catholic) wedding ceremonies (called the Dance of Isaiah). I understand that this is a ritual that predates Christianity. The various explanations given for the three rounds in each culture and religion may vary, but the symbolism remains the same – the newlyweds taking their firsts steps together as one.

Anyway. Enough talk. Picture time!

Above, the entrance to Bangalore Palace on the morning of the wedding. Below, one of the line of drummers who greeted us at the entrance to the palace.

Drummer Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 95mm, f5.6, ISO200, 1/160sec)

Welcome Drummers (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 90mm, f5.6, ISO200, 1/200sec)

This lady’s long hair was bedecked in jasmine. A lovely sight.

Dressed up in Jasmine (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 60mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/30sec)

One of the trumpeteers who preceded the bride.

The Trumpetter Cometh (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f4, ISO1000, 1/160sec)

The lovely bride, looking regal.

The Regal Bride (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/160sec)

The Blessing (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Here, the bride and groom after holy water was poured on their hands during the Dhare. The Dhare is the prayer ritual which follows the wedding ceremony proper. Prayers are offered to Agni, the Lord of Fire, who dispels darkness and leads the way to the light of wisdom and knowledge.

Holy Water (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 85mm, f5.3, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Offering to Agni 1 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 100mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Offering to Agni 2 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Colour and Smiles (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Offering to Agni 3 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 60mm, f4.8, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Offering to Agni 4 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 100mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

Garlanding the Brother of the Bride (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 105mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

This is one of a series of saffron mounds, seen between the groom and bride. These were crushed by the bride during the ceremony.

Saffron Cone (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

The Groom (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/320sec)

An ecstatic bride and groom during the one of the rounds of the saptapadi (the seven rounds around the holy fire).

A Round Around The Fire (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/320sec)

I loved that although the wedding was such a detail-rich series of rituals and symbolism, steeped in the traditions of a millenia-rich culture, there so much room for joy in it:

Heaping up the Offerings (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO1000, 1/250sec)

I can easily say it was the most beautiful and moving weddings I have yet attended.

In closing, here’s another picture from the Bangalore Palace grounds. Now, this isn’t strictly speaking wedding related – but the cannon was just sitting there outside the Palace gates, looking all cannon-y. Couldn’t resist. Hehe.

The Cannon (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, f5.6, ISO200, 1/500sec)

More pictures coming soon! Including pictures of my favourite wedding-related event – the giving away ceremony!

P.S. Any errors in the descriptions of the ceremony and rituals are mine own alone. Please do feel free to clarify if you like.

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Bangalore Portraits – Part II

December 2nd, 2009

Here are a few more portraits of the interesting people whose paths crossed mine in the short time I spent in Bangalore.

In colour, this time (well, mostly).

I met these men on a side street off Commercial Street. They were deep in conversation. I liked the symmetry of the two men on the benches, and the determined, but kind, air of the man standing by the door. I paused to say hullo, and asked if I could take their picture.

Three Men and a Door (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f4, ISO 200, 1/125sec)

If you notice, the door has a decorative Hindu form of the swastika symbol. This should not be confused with the Nazi variant. It’s use in the Asian subcontinent can represent a range of things depending on the context, the direction it facing and the religion (it’s a sacred symbol in each of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Mithraism). It is commonly associated with evolution, stability (as it faces in each of North, South, East and West), and even the movement of the sun. You can find out more here.

Below are drum sellers, father and son. I met them on a street parallel to Commercial Street. The son spent a good deal of time trying to convince me to buy a drum from him. At an outrageous price, no less. I whittled him down to less than a tenth of his initial asking price (no joke) but, I mean, what use do I have for a drum? I told him so, and offered to take his picture instead. He agreed, and I took a few portraits of him alone, and then of him with his father.

He still insisted that if I wasn’t about to buy a drum off him, then at least I should give him some money so he could feed himself and his dad. He insisted on being given money. But when we spotted a fruit seller, I was happy to offer him and his father a salad.

The Drum Sellers (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 28mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/100sec)

Here is the fruit seller as he cut up a pineapple preparing the salad for the drum sellers:

The Fruit Seller (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 35mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/200sec)

There were quite a few fruit sellers pushing carts along on the streets of Bangalore.

Rolling Along (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/320sec)

When heading back towards Commercial Street on another small side street, I came across a little tailor’s shop. It had no door and was entirely open onto the street. I stopped for a quick hello and the tailors paused for a few moments in their work for a few pictures.

Here are two of the resulting portraits:

The Tailor I (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 78mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

The Tailor II (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 48mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/60sec)

This woman accosted me at the top of Commercial Street as I was waiting for a few friends to join me. She tried to sell me a map of India. I convinced her to let me take a picture of her instead.

She disappeared before I could take a closer shot of her face.

The Map Seller (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/250sec + flash SB900)

This man and his tuk-tuk which was overflowing with blue sacks hauled up alongside our car at a junction:

Tuk-Tuk Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 30mm, f3.8, ISO 200, 1/500sec)

I spotted this woman as we passed down a busy street. I loved the colours of the posters, and the odd mix of religious  and other subjects. If you notice, she’s holding a young child in her lap, partially covered in her sari.

The Poster Seller (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 90mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/60sec - slightly cropped)

More pictures coming soon!

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