Over the span of 14 hours, we got to become a part of the two families and take some of the most magical photos ever. Villa Del Lago is beyond amazing with views of the lake and a sunset that added the perfect backdrop. I was so impressed with such a sweet family and how Lush Occasions kept together all the details. The decor was everything I could have imagined and more. It featured purple orchids strung in lines between turquoise ribbon, and gorgeous flowers arrangements by Bouquets of Austin. Lunch and dinner which were served by Sarovar and Bombay Bistro and the cake by Simon Lee Bakery was both delicious and beautiful. Being a Telugu Indian wedding, the day was organized around eight traditions you can follow along with below. We began early in the morning with the couple getting ready in their separate houses, followed by their individual prayer ceremonies- Ganesh and Gowri puja.
Part I: Ganesh and Gowri puja (prayer ceremonies)
Prior to the formal wedding ceremony itself, the bride and groom perform prayer ceremonies in their respective households. The groom prays to ask Lord Ganesha to remove all obstacles, while the bride prays to the goddess Gowri asking for a long and blessed marriage.
Part II: Kanyadaanam
With the Kanyadaanam, the official wedding ceremony begins. It is during this time that the bride’s parents symbolize the transfer of responsibility over their daughter’s well-being to the groom. In the Telugu tradition, as a sign of respect and honor, the bride’s parents wash the groom’s feet.
The bride is actually carried to the altar in a bamboo basket by her uncles. During this part of the ceremony, the bride and groom sit facing each other, but are not allowed to see each other yet, so there is a curtain in between them.
Part III: Jeelakara-Bellam and Madhuparkam
An auspicious time for marriage is pre-chosen, which is known as “Sumuhurtham”*. At this appointed time, amidst shlokas (passages) from Vedas (Hindu sacred texts) being recited by the priests, the Bride and the Groom place Jeelakarra-Bellam (a paste made from cumin seeds and jaggery) on each other’s heads at exactly the same moment/time.
The bitter taste of cumin seeds and the sweetness of jaggery cannot be separated, communicating that the bride and groom are supposed to become inseparable through life’s bitter and sweet times.
It is also said that when the couple touch each other’s heads with the Jeelakara-Bellam paste in between, there is complete interchange of each other’s thoughts and destinies, thus making their lives completely inter-linked.
Part IV: Sumangli
After her sari change, ten married women (the sumanglis) accompany the bride back to the altar. They carry mixtures of rice and turmeric (symbolizing abundance), flowers, and lit lamps.
Part V: Tying of the Mangalsutra
The curtain is removed and the bride and groom face each other as husband and wife for the first time. The groom then ties the mangalsutra, a necklace of cotton thread with two golden disc pendants, around the bride’s neck with three knots. The knots represent the physical, mental, and spiritual union of the couple. Next follows the playful, fun part of the ceremony: Talambralu. The bride and groom take turns pouring handfuls of rice/turmeric mixture, flowers, and beads onto each other’s heads. A contest ensues: who can empty the plate faster and douse the other one more completely? The priest overlooks the games and reminds the bride and groom how important it is to keep a sense of humor in the relationship.
Part VI: Kanyadaanam Akshatalu
The bride and groom exchange garlands of flowers and are blessed by the wedding guests who are older than them. The guests sprinkle the rice/turmeric mixture on their heads and wish them a happy and long life together.
It is after this part of the ceremony that the guests are invited to have lunch. Yes, the ceremony is technically still going on, but the most important parts have been witnessed by the guests, and their patience is rewarded with a generous meal. Don’t feel guilty; guests are basically expected to get up and have lunch at this time! If you are inclined to stay and watch the rest, you are most welcome, but you are by no means obligated.
Part VII: Saptapadi
Saptapadi translates to “seven steps” in Sanskrit. It refers to the seven steps that the bride and groom walk around an open fire pit in the center of the altar. Each step symbolizes one lifetime that they are now considered to be married to each other – seven total. The bride’s sari and the groom’s dhoti are joined together by the priest, literally “tying the knot,” before they walk.
Part VIII: Sthalipaakam
This is a tradition in which the groom places silver toe rings on the bride’s feet. The toe rings symbolize her as a married woman. But, this is yet another ritual that is not complete without adding a little bit of competition and fun – the bride and groom must fight each other to be the first to fish the rings out of a silver pot. Following this, the groom also ties another mangalsutra around the bride’s neck. This one is adorned with black beads to ward off the evil eye. At a later time well after the wedding, the two mangalsutras will be joined on one gold chain. This concludes the wedding ceremony.
As the sun is setting, the couple escapes for a short but sweet portrait session!
The dance party is ignited with a touching first dance. The DJ Paras plays all the Indian dance hits and kids to adults let loose on the dance floor. The couple is lifted on friend’s shoulders and bounced around the dance floor!
The night comes to a close with a massive finale complete with fireworks by Starlight Fireworks and FX! Special thanks from this Austin Indian Wedding Photographer. What an amazing day for Prardhana & Patrick and what a gorgeous wedding!