A Kashmiri Pandit wedding is Kashmiri only by name these days as there are no pandits in Kashmir anymore. If you want to attend such an event your best chance is actually in Delhi, where I photographed Anuradha and Nikhil.
Anu nad Nikhil’s wedding was an arranged marriage as so often is the case in India. It took place on that specific auspicious day when more than fifteen thousand (yes, yes!) couples got married in Delhi alone. The city was full with marriage processions and I was shooting the last wedding for my book on traditional Indian weddings. They both come from traditional Kashmiri houses and I was a little surprised to see so many differences exist between this Hindu tradition and other ones that I have covered over the last few years.
I have noticed that the unique thing about a Kashmiri Pandit wedding, and please do feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, is more to do with the pre-wedding ceremonies and less with the wedding itself. The music, the male dancer dressed as a lady to seduce and entertain the guests, the thread ceremony that reminded me so much of an orange version of an organizations in the USA wearing their iconic white costumes consisted of robes and pointed hats. The alternative to the traditional turmeric (haldi ceremoy) here is a cold, white yogurt that is poured on the bride to purify her skin. There is also a very special ear jewelry that is worn by every Kashmiri woman that undergoes the painful ear piercing before becoming a bride.
The wedding itself has influences form both brahmin as well as Muslim traditions, as could be expected from a Hindu culture that used to live in Muslim populated Kashmir. The Hena, or Mehendi, is applied to cover the entire hand in a way that resembles some tribal Arab traditions from Yemen. The use of a mirror during the ceremony itself is also borrowed from the Muslim wedding ceremonies. All in all, this was one of the most interesting weddings I have so far photographed and one that will surely become one of the larger chapters in my book.