Rajasthan. The mere mention of it evokes memories of music, heritage, colour, grandeur, tradition. All of these ingredients were brought together in the most elegant manner for us to experience at the wedding of a dear friend in Jaipur. As it happens often in India, friends turn into family effortlessly over time; we are fortunate to still preserve those elements of our culture that allow us to do so. Nirbhay, whose sister was the bride, is a dear friend and because he lovingly calls Rahul dada (older brother), we are knit into a successive web of relationships in a manner typical to Indian culture. And so, there we were- Aadyaa, Amma and me, imbibing the ambience of a traditional Rajput wedding in Jaipur.
Some of what I saw was familiar to me, being married into the same community in another part of Rajasthan. But this was the first time I was seeing a Jaipur wedding and I was happy to sit back (with my camera) and admire the jewellery and clothes, the refined mannerisms and confidence of those born into royalty, with myriad interpretations of what that means in modern times.
The traditionalism in a Rajput wedding is marker, with the men and the women socializing in separate areas and everyone turned out in traditional attire. Whereas in a wedding in Delhi or Mumbai, one would see several interpretations of Indian clothing, much of it influenced by Western styling, this wedding very much reflected the pride of the Rajput community in its own unalderated traditions. Women wore heavily embroidered poshak (comprising of 4 parts-a lehenga, odhni, kurti and kachli), in colour combinations that were both the conventional bright as well as a more modern range of pastel colours. The jewellery also is distinct, with the typical round rakhdi worn on the forehead, the heavy aad on the neck, bajuband on the arms, bangdis (bangles) and gold pajeb (anklets) being typical to the Rajput community. I thoroughly enjoyed taking portraits of some of the loveliest women I have ever seen (see if you agree!).
While the women outdo each other to wear the loveliest and most unique poshaks, the bride traditionally wears red (or yellow in some families). The bride, Shruti, wore a lovely red poshak with traditional embroidery on it (I hear her mother hand embroidered it for her and I cannot imagine the love and feeling that went into that, lucky girl!) with exquisite jewelry. The impact was intensified by the minimal make up and I loved the simplicity of her look. It also ensured she was very comfortable through the ceremony. In fact, when I met her moments before her wedding, she told me she was surprised about how light and easy to manage her attire was! A sign indeed of a happy carefree bride!
The bride, shortly before the ceremony begun
I could not take my eyes off her! Yuvragi, Nirbhay’s wife is a dear friend and the loveliest girl I know. I watcher her all evening, doing her duties with elan and finesse, always in control and always elegant! You can see the traditional jewelry items I mention clearly on her in the picture.
The bride’s sister, in the most stunning combination of fuschia and orange. Gorgeous!
I loved the detail in this child’s attire, adorable!
The men are dressed in bandhgalas (also called sherwanis), worn with trousers or breaches. Men also wear jewelry, especially on the neck and ear studs as well plus the distinctive saafa (headgear) that is actually several yards of cotton tied on the head. I was specially impressed by the bridegroom’s sartorial sense, his sherwani was made of a subtle brocade silk and so were his jootis (shoes), all matching matching! His kamarband that held the traditional sword (a mark of the warrior class) was also very subtle and elegant.
The safas as the groom and his companions enter the mandap area…texture, colour, motion….
Nirbhay looks busy. The brother of the bride is one of the most important people in an Indian wedding :)
The bride and groom were so relaxed. Was fun to watch that as a contrast in the otherwise traditional setting. In the good old days, they would barely have known each other! Nowadays, the brides smile out at the world through the ghungat (veil) and I love it!
Rajput women wear their veil with immense pride. No symbol of oppression this, I can assure you!
That’s me, one of the few moments I let my camera go!
Amma, my mother in law, wears the poshak with grace and sports a maang teeka, an item of jewelry prevalent through north India and very much in vogue at present! This piece was made for her wedding and I wore it at mine as well!
Moments I love during family weddings!
Aadyaa was happy with pepsi and newly found friends!
Some asides and the general ambience of the wedding!
Another spectacular woman with spectacular jewelry!
Yuvragi again. Picture of grace, isn’t she?
An elderly relative documenting the marriage with a phone camera. I love the way technology integrates into tradition in our lives
Various rituals and ceremonies…
Maang mein sindoor. Red vermilion being filled into the parting on the bride’s head by the groom. Her veil is lifted by the ladies and no one misses the poignancy of the moment. Love this capture!
Much of the ambience was also created by the architecture around us. Dera Mandawa, the stunning boutique hotel that Nirbhay’s family runs (it is an extension of their own home), made the perfect setting for a traditional wedding. I admired, through the evening, the taste with which the decor had been chosen, the wonderful voices of the folk musicians that pervaded the air, the understated elegance of the ceremony. I could have expected nothing less from the family, especially the father of the bride, Thakur Durga Singh who is a true connoisseur of art and culture and responsible for quite a bit of the insights that I have about the state and its culture, especially the Shekawati region. All in all, this was one of the most enjoyable evenings I spent. I was so glad I took my camera along, so I could share some glimpses here with all of you.
The exquisite decor
The musicians who added to the magic. An indispensable element indeed
The kids played ‘India’s Got Talent’ in the front porch of Dera Mandawa. Was tickled by their choice of game!
Dera Mandawa the next morning
The main family home, still basking in the glory of the wedding decor
Nirbhay and amma saying goodbyes as we leave for Gurgaon again.