Muslim weddings are not easy to photograph. I can tell you that for sure. I mean, if you are a muslim than this might sounds strange, after all a wedding is a wedding. However, if you are used to all the music, alcohol, and party atmosphere usually associated with Indian weddings than you are up for a big surprise. Not to say that there is no celebration. There is of course, but it is a lot more reserved and quiet. Men and women celebrate separately, and as a matter of fact the men are not allowed to the women section. Not even the photographer! (grin)
A Muslim Wedding in Kerala
My pictures are therefor mainly limited to what was happening at the mens section. (Assisting at this wedding was Parinita Salian who was taking pictures of the women. Some of her pictures are on her website.) Being so straight forward and direct as I am, in a good way of course, I did manage to be allowed to the women side every now and then to sneak a peak and take a couple of pictures. It would have been very disappointing if I didn’t. Even the groom’s best friend who flew down to Kerala especially for the wedding had left without even seeing the bride! Ok, he had to leave right after the actual wedding and did not attend the reception where he would have surely met her, but still…
*Apologies for blurring the women’s faces in some of the images. This was the specific requirement of the family. I hope you can still enjoy the pictures.
Nawas & Fathima’s Wedding in Kozhikode (Calicut)
Kerala had trade relations with foreign countries, especially those in the middle-east, since ancient times. It was frequently visited by Arab traders for its spices, Teak wood and Ivory. Islam was then propagated in Kerala by these traders, many of who later settled in the coastal areas of Kerala. Today, Muslims form the second largest religious community in Kerala with the majority of the Muslim population is in the northern districts of the state.
The little town of Vatakara lies about 50 km north of Kozhikode. It is where Nawas and Fathima’s families are from. The wedding was an arranged marriage and Nawas, who is now based in Dubai, came back to his Kerala home town to marry Fathima who is just about to graduate from college. This whole traditional wedding was something he found a bit funny as his life is Dubai is so different from back home in Vatakara. Nevertheless he played the part well. Fathima on the other hand, being still a girl from a small town, was a bit shy d embarrassed. I found this contrast between them simply adorable. After the wedding, when they were finally allowed to be together alone, we found a white wall and had a quick couple portrait. It was in the bathroom of all places. I played around a bit with the white wall and came up with the vertical portrait of the two of them that you can see below.
Sephi Bergerson is a documentary wedding photography based in India since 2002 and is available for Muslim wedding photography and other wedding photography assignments in Kerala and all over India, south east Asia and Africa.