'Matrimania': In India, All Weddings Are Created Equal

Originally published on May 23, 2012 11:56 am

Mahesh Shantaram is a wedding photographer based in Bangalore, India. I asked him what he would do if he were in the shoes of Hugo Burnand, the official royal wedding photographer. "I don't see myself as a successful photographer in the West," he wrote in an email. "It's all too perfect and colorless."

Shantaram's photo series, Matrimania, shows just how colorful weddings are in India — where you don't have to be royal to have a big celebration. "We in India take our weddings very seriously," he writes on his site. The series was a finalist in the Sony World Photography Awards this year.

Though it may seem extreme to turn Westminster Abbey into an enchanted forest, Shantaram probably isn't fazed. One of the more elaborate weddings he has seen, for example, was in a small town in Tamil Nadu. Billboards were used for wedding invitations, he says, and a castle was specially built to accommodate the 11,000 guests. The reception was themed Alice in Wonderland, a "more intimate affair" of 8,000 guests.

Why the fascination with weddings?

"I find them to be fascinating metaphors of my country's penchant for order and chaos, color and noise," Shantaram writes, "and the peculiar sense of taste and design or the lack thereof."

In India, too, people are preparing for tomorrow's royal wedding. Some are planning to leave work early to watch the event live, says Shantaram. "I thought that kind of fervour was reserved for World Cup Cricket alone!"

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