New age fusion wedding

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Now, even Hindu brides walk down the aisle

If the idea of a wedding reception invokes the image of an overdressed couple sweating on gaudy medieval thrones with fake smiles firmly in place, we hope it’s sepia-toned. The upper-crust urban reception, which had long moved off the wobbly stage, has now evolved further-chhas has been nudged out by champagne, Shehnai is getting remixed with Shakira, and Saptapadi is preceded by a walk down the aisle.

Welcome to the new age fusion wedding, where Indian rituals are blended with western and Bollywood’s been partially nudged out by Hollywood.

“The big fat Hindu wedding should now be christened the big fat fusion wedding,’’ says Meghna Chitalia, owner of Party Planet, a wedding planning agency. In one such wedding that Chitalia helped organize for an “affluent and typical Gujarati family,” an “English dinner’’ was hosted after the dandiya function.

The desi best man and maid of honor, both dressed in coordinated traditional Indian wear, made speeches and raised a toast to the couple as aunties and uncles grinned behind clusters of flowers on assigned tables. “The last few phera mantras were translated into English on the microphone by the pandit and the couple even exchanged ‘I do’s’,” says the wedding planner.

At another wedding, the bride made a grand entry into the mandap with a Yash Chopra song playing for ambience as close family members in coordinated sarees and shervanis walked her down the “aisle” (the aisle walk, often, is even done to a Hollywood romantic number).

Another recent shaadi organized by wedding planners Sneha Tejwani and Dipa Sheth saw a Bolly-Holly khichdi: during a cocktail function, the couple made a bhangra entry (believe it) surrounded by traditional dancers while the sangeet had a rap sequence and wedding rings were brought in dolis to be exchanged by the couple after the pheras.

“Even concepts like pre-invitation save-the-date cards, gift registries where couples can make a wishlist and wedding Web sites to keep guests up to date with the wedding program are getting more popular,’’ says wedding planner Nikhil Bhide.

Pre-wedding celebrations too have been going distinctly un-desi in the past few years. Masquerade parties, where guests are only admitted in ball gowns and tuxes, are catching on while the mehendi ceremony is now officially the “cocktail mehendi” and often features a romantic ball dance by the groom and bride. “Some don’t even mind kissing at the end of the dance. This would have never been part of a wedding function a few years ago,’’ says a Mumbai wedding planner.

Where’s the fusion wedding trend coming from? “Well, it’s largely a result of the hat ke syndrome,’’ says wedding planner Ratna Malhotra. “Everybody wants to be different and get noticed.

But though dissidents may raise disapproving eyebrows, the fusion folk couldn’t care less. The father of a bride and Nepeansea Road resident argues, “The idea is to make the wedding day memorable. Now, if cutting out a few rituals and allowing the first family to enjoy themselves achieves that, what’s wrong with it? After all, no one wants theirs guests to yawn through the wedding.’’

The Indian brides till date were seen in the traditional bridal wear for all their ceremonies. Their selections were always centered around the        lehengas and the saris for the engagement, and pheras. But the modern bride (latest fashion trend) has now decided to expand her horizon and wardrobe to include the Western “gown,” complete with trails and veils, which can be worn in ceremonies abroad. This bridal gown can be worn during the ring ceremony and the more traditional outfits are worn for the actual wedding ceremony.

This change of mindset of the desi bride has come with the entry of international clothing chains into the Indian market. As a result, the Indian Hindu brides are now beginning to adopt this fusion of Indian-Western wear for their wedding ceremonies!

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