Not long ago I had the unique opportunity to do the Sikh wedding photography in London. A Sikh wedding is also called Punjabi wedding as among Sikhs the weddings are conducted in Punjabi.
The Sikh marriage is a simple, yet elegant occasion wherein various rituals are followed before, during and after it. Anand Karaj is the prescribed form of Sikh marriage and the words literally translate as 'Blissful Union". The wedding ritual takes place early morning, usually associated with peace and tranquillity.
That’s why I starting the Sikh wedding photography by arriving at the groom’s house at 7am and the whole family was getting ready to start the rituals in the groom’s home.
The groom was dressed in traditional shirt and trousers and wore a red, turban, a coloured scarf (pulla) and a sword (since Sikhs were traditionally warriors).
The groom was made to sit on a stool and four girls held a cloth over his head. All the women in the house then gathered around him and applied a touch of 'kajal' (kohl) to the groom's eyes to ward off the evil eyes. They also adored him with some garlands and showered him with money.
After a lot of Sikh wedding photography photos, the groom’s family and I drove to the Sikh temple called the Gurdwara where the ceremony was to take place. The groom's party (baraat) was greeted by the male relatives from the bride's family to the singing of 'Hum Ghar Saajan Aaye' a hymn giving thanks for being blessed by the arrival of the Sikh groom. The bride's father greeted the groom's father by garlanding him and was garlanded in return. Thereafter all the male relatives of the bride greeted the groom's family in sequence adoring garlands onto each other.
Following these exchanges of welcome we proceeded into a building called Langar hall close to the temple where tea with samosas and sweets were served. The bride hasn’t yet arrived as she was to arrive only after the groom, his family and all his guests entered the prayer hall (Darbar sahib) in the temple.
When finally the Sikh wedding ceremony was about to start the bride, whose face was covered, entered the hall escorted by her father, her sisters and girlfriends and was seated on the left of the groom. The bride's father placed a corner of the bride's veil (pallav) in the groom's hands and over his shoulder into the bride's hands, symbolically connecting them and giving his daughter away in marriage. During the ceremony the groom and the bride got up four times to circle around the Holy Book. Four times the groom led the bride who was symbolically tied to him and who was supposed to follow a step behind him. During each circle around the Holy Book there were hymns containing blessings and advice.
It was interesting to know that during the ceremony the Sikh bride is not allowed to look up but she should modestly look down throughout the ceremony. I was therefore thrilled to have the brief opportunity to photograph the bride as she once looked to the side. I’d say this is my favourite photo from this Sikh wedding photography.
The ceremony ended with the Sikh prayer Ardaas in Punjabi and was followed by the Guru's counsel 'vaak'. This was done by opening the Holy Book at random and reading out a verse from a page on the right. A symbolic bread 'Karah Parshaad' made of semolina, butter, and sugar was distributed to all the guests in the temple.
The whole ceremony was concluded with the typical for a Sikh wedding photography tradition of numerous photographs. The guests approached the couple to give them money and stood for a photo.
Following the intricate ceremonies of the Sikh wedding we have proceeded to the wedding venue which was an hour drive. As the wedding was more than 600 people the most suitable venue that the couple have selected was a race course outside of London.
The typical tradition is for the groom to arrive at the temple by horse and following the ceremony to arrive at the wedding venue riding the horse with his bride behind him. However in a modern twist of this tradition the couple made a grand entrance by arriving in a helicopter.
With 600 guests to greet and entertain unfortunately I was limited with the time to spend with the couple for more creative wedding photography at this beautiful Sikh wedding, however I did managed to take a few photos of the couple on their own. It was surprising to see the change in the groom who after the wedding ceremony has changed into European clothes and has shaved the beard which was grown for the purpose of the wedding. The bride has remained in the traditional red sari.
The party was a wild affair but nothing less is expected from a Sikh wedding which are famous for the exuberant dancing, singing and drinking, which unlike in Muslim tradition is allowed for the Sikhs.It was certainly a fascinating thing to do a Sikh wedding photography in Greater London but I can certainly say that with nearly 15 hours of work involved of photography coverage and 600 guests it was a tiring job. I had a well-deserved rest on the following day.
For further information on Indian wedding photography in London and UK and to view our portfolio of Sikh, Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu wedding photography in Central London and Greater London as well as wedding and events photography in Central London, Europe, France, Monaco, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Zurich and Russia please visit www.NeliPrahova.com or contact Neli on firstname.lastname@example.org.