Punjabi – Bavarian Wedding in Geneva – July 2014

geneva wedding 36 Punjabi – Bavarian Wedding in Geneva – July 2014

I felt privileged at being invited by Sophie and Mukul to cover two days of their amazing wedding celebrations in picturesque Geneva, earlier last month. The couple: Sophie is an intelligent and beautiful young lady who comes from Germany and Austria, and Mukul is a smart and handsome man from India – they are both humanitarian workers who met in Geneva. Before we go into the intricate details of this lovely Punjabi-Bavarian wedding – I would really like to congratulate the bride and groom (and as I learnt during the speeches on the wedding day, the entourage of family and close friends who were the behind the scenes “wedding planners” and “organizers” and really made it happen so smoothly) for putting together such a memorable and well organized wedding. Coordinating the planning of this elaborate fusion wedding, and taking into consideration Sophie’s sudden and unexpected deployment to Beirut to help with the Syria Crisis in the run up to the wedding, must have been challenging – and they did a great job as you can see from the photos below!

So I got into Geneva just before the festivities kicked off on 3 July with the mehendi (henna) and sangeet (music) evening, and very quickly felt an integral part of the 100 or so close friends and family as we continued the celebrations over several events during the course of the next day (well actually even well into the early hours of the day after, for some…). Day one consisted of the bride and guests having mehendi designs applied on their hands during a causal garden party. The sun was shining, and the setting really provided a warm and welcoming ambiance for the guests to get introduced to each other. The delicious home cooked Indian food was complimented with a selection of beverages from the region and beyond. The chilled augustiner beer which was specially imported the day before from Munich, the bride’s home city, was particularly popular with the guests.

The second day included the civil wedding in the morning at the Mairie in Cologny, followed by an Indian wedding ceremony and a reception later in the day at the united nations beach club – intense! This meant the bride and groom got ready twice in the same day, had 2 ceremonies and 2 apéros. Oh and I nearly forgot… the day actually started even earlier for Mukul. I captured the haldi (turmeric) ceremony which I would describe as an ancient Indian spa ritual. Except instead of a soothing, relaxing ambiance, Mukul had his relatives and friends attempting to “beautify” him by applying a paste of haldi on his face, hands and feet. I remember Mukul telling me about this when we were planning, he said he would go along with the symbolic ritual – he was assured by his mum and dad and Aditi, his sister, that they would only apply a bit of the paste symbolically on his arms. Needless to say, he was in for a surprise – the relatives and friends got carried away (or was that part of the plan all along Aditi?) and before he knew it he was covered in the paste from head to toe. It was great fun as you can see below – at least for me!

One of the highlights was definitely the white horse that Mali, Mukul’s friend, had organised for him to ride on from perle du lac to the united nations beach club – right along the waterfront. The baraat, as it is known in hindi, is a procession where the groom, on his way to meet the bride, rides a decorated white horse with his family and friends dancing to the sound of the dhol (drum). This really must have been a first for Geneva as we even had the local paparazzi following us and trying to get photos – I later found out it was the Tribune De Genève that wanted to cover the wedding. Once Mukul and his entourage arrived at the wedding reception venue, they were greeted by Sophie’s family at the entrance of the united nations beach club. The welcoming and meeting of the two families is known as the milni – there were exchanges of garlands to symbolize the union of the two families. Simon, who is Sophie’s brother, then helped Mukul get off the horse and they walked together to meet the other guests.

The setting for Indian wedding ceremony was spectacular – with the lake in the backdrop, and the bride, accompanied by her father, making her entry to the sound of the saxophone. Up till then the weather had been perfect but just as the ceremony got underway we were greeted by a thunder storm came, and it poured down. All the guest ran for cover in the tent (good preparedness guys!) and feasted on the warm starters, as the committed couple braved the weather and tied the knot (literally) as the priest completed the rituals. From a photographer’s perspective rain and clouds are actually good – you can get some dramatic photos and also with great soft light. So if it rains at your wedding then at least you know your photos will still be good. I felt that even the rain was really very auspicious – indeed it was a truly magical movement when Sophie’s mother, during her speech, referred to the rain showers being blessings by loved ones from heaven… and just then the rainbow appeared. I can’t wait to see if the film crew captured that special moment! Anyway, enough ramble from me. Here are the photos…

 

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