Leela Patel

The bride, Neeta Deepak Patel, giving sweets called pandas to the groom during a Hindu wedding ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, 1988

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Getting married

"The wedding ceremony takes place in a "mandap" which is like a special ornate tent for weddings. In the mandap the bride and groom take their oaths to live with each other in happiness or sorrow.

Both sets of parents give them blessings for their future life. The oaths are made around an auspicious fire, which the Pundit [Hindu priest] has created in the centre of the mandap. The bride and groom walk around the fire together, and afterwards they garland each other, which shows that they are husband and wife onwards. There is a special cord, which is given to the girl by her parents and placed around the bride and groom. It too shows that they are bound to each other for their future life.

Then the girl's parents say farewell to their daughter, and give the custody of her over to her new father and mother-in-law. This is the dawn of her new family life. The bride and groom feed each other sweets, called "pandas". This bit of the ceremony is called "kansaar-feeding" to the couple, and this is a special ceremony to make their life as good and sweet as sugar. Sometimes the bride feels a little bit of sorrow to leave her parents, but she has a great big joy for her future life."

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