Westernized as we are, we often admire marriages and weddings with a Western flair: the aisles, churches and exchanging of rings with a celebrant/ priest present etc. But how often do we see a traditional Indian & Jewish wedding that crops up into blogs, magazines and wedding fashions? Meet Aesha, a Gujarati & Alon, a Jew, who met in the US and do come on in for a love story; their beautiful ‘Gujjew’ wedding in Udaipur by Sam & Ekta. The wedding was a beautiful celebration of love, and the celebration of the Gujarati & Jewish marriage traditions as well.
For a brief starter, Indian weddings usually have a tilak ceremony (where the groom is anointed on his forehead), a ceremony for adorning the bride’s hand and feet with henna (called mehendi) accompanied by Sangeet (music and dance). Another ceremony followed here is “Haldi”, where the bride and the groom are anointed with turmeric paste by all close friends and relatives. Lucky for us, we also get to see a unique ceremony here where the bridegroom and his friends and relatives come singing and dancing to the wedding site in a procession called baraat.
Blue skies and bright colors marked this wedding off the status quo right from the start. As Indians are fond of their bright colors, a wedding should all the more be colorful and sensational! Leela Kempinski (Leela Palace) and the Ananta Villas became their wedding venue where guests gathered to celebrate this auspicious event. The calming location of Leela Palace surrounded by waters as well as the geometrical designs in its interior creates a beautiful backdrop, romantic for our couple here.
The entire wedding party stayed at the Ananta Villas where most of the wedding functions were held. For the first evening, it was a music night. Guests flying in from around the world joined the bride & groom’s families for evening drinks & dinner at the Leela Kempinski, with Rajasthani folk music and dance. Meanwhile, the rest of the guests arrived at the Ananta Vilas the following day and were welcomed by Rajasthani singers and dancers and the groom with his ‘temporary baraat’ at the lobby of the Ananta Vilas. They then proceeded for a brunch with wacky decor – origami birds, bollywood themed bicycles, etc.
The Mad Hatter’s party saw all the guests arriving at the Ananta Vilas pool in crazy headgear. From turbans to Coyboy hats, everyone was cheering when the couple kissed, in the pool and out.
As night followed, everyone proceeded for the Sangeet function. Held at the Ananta Vilas Amphitheatre, it was full of amazing performances on a beautifully lit stage under the night sky. From the Gujarati garba & dandiya to the Jewish traditional dance, every performance brought the house down with applause. The groom also showed off some amazing Bollywood dance moves!
After the performances, the party moved indoors where the Flair-O-Logy bartending team showed off their flairtending (flame & bartending) skills as the DJ kept the party going. With the blazing lights and clever acrobatic skills, jugling a glass bottle with flame looked real cool!
Day 3 was the big day. The entire wedding party was dressed in white/off white colours as they celebrated holi with orange/yellow marigold petals while the dhols played in the background. Frangipanis with a white and yellowish tint was spotted as well, symbolising immortality (You bet, when they only get burn at 500 degrees!), a token to everlasting love. The Jewish wedding party then did a traditional song and dance. This was followed by the haldi function where everyone took turns applying haldi to the bride and groom.
Some had beautiful henna drawn on their hands, but the bride’s henna was the only one fully detailed right to the elbow. With gold bangles, a must-have jewellery present in Indian weddings, she then dons on her wedding garment from her mum- a marvellous red saree accompanied with mangtika, a necklace, nose ring and a classic dupatta drape around her head. The groom is brilliantly handsome as well in a light gold and beige sherwani.
Over a mountainous view, both look amazing in their wedding outfits. True to the overall theme of the wedding, the wedding ceremony too, was a meaningful fusion of the Gujarati & Jewish traditions. For his baraat, the groom arrived in a specially designed yellow autorickshaw. The bride had a baraat of her own, as she came to the venue happily dancing. As the pandit guided the bride & groom to taking their pheras under the night sky, a compère took the guests through the meaning of the Hindu wedding rituals. This was followed by the Jewish tradition of breaking the glass and the bride and groom turned husband and wife.
For the last night in day 3, the American style reception was an elegant affair with fun and emotional speeches from close friends and family. Everyone joined in for raising a glass to the new couple as they took to the floor for their first dance as a couple. The Jewish Hora (or chair dance) followed soon after the cake cutting. The DJ then took control of the party. It was an epic end to an epic wedding.
Amazed by eveything that’s going on ? So are we. Thanks again to Aesha and Alon for a mind-delighting insight on how a Jewish, Indian and modern wedding fusion works!
Photography: Sam & Ekta | Wedding venue: Leela Kempinski & Ananta Vilas | Decorator: Floral Stems by Manisha Pamnani | Bartender: Flair-O-Logy | Bride’s outfit: Well, her outfit was put together by the bride’s mother