In Indian traditions and culture, weddings play a significant role, and they almost always involve a number of ceremonies and festivities. The Pithi/Haldi ceremony is one such event that is essential to Hindu weddings. Pithi and Haldi ceremonies are esentially the same with tiny differences. Both the Haldi and Pithi ceremonies involve applying the yellow paste to the bride and groom’s face, arms and legs. The ingredients of the paste differ slightly. Both paste look yellow and nobody would be able to see the difference. I am an Indian wedding photographer and I can tell you that there is not difference in color or texture.
Other slight difference is that you can attend Haldi ceremony all across India, whereas the Pithi ceremony is more local and community specific. Haldi ceremony is usually held separately for the bride and groom, and it is often a vibrant and colorful event filled with music, dancing and singing. The Pithi ceremony, unlike the Haldi ceremony, is usually held together for the bride and groom and is often a more intimate and spiritual event conducted by close family members and friends. It is easier for a wedding photographer to shoot this one because this one takes place at the same location.
Pithi/Haldi ‘s Origin
Since ancient times, Hindu weddings have included the Pithi ceremony, which has (medicinal) Ayurveda roots. Ayurveda is an alternative medicine system with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. In the past, it was a technique to improve the bride and groom’s attractiveness, fend off evil spirits, and get them ready for their wedding day. The ceremony has changed with time and now plays a significant role in the wedding festivities.
The most crucial component of the ceremony is the Pithi paste, which is a yellow paste made with turmeric, sandalwood, and chickpea flour. You will see it in a little bowl during the ceremony. Each of these components has a symbolic meaning associated with the wedding ceremony. Turmeric, for example, is thought to bring good luck and ward off evil, whereas sandalwood is thought to purify the body and mind. Chickpea flour, on the other hand, is thought to improve skin radiance and beauty. The bride and groom sit separately during the Pithi ceremony, while family members and friends apply Pithi paste to their faces, hands, and feet.
There is strict rule how you apply the paste, you can not mix up the order. Often people do though and if this is your first Indian wedding, probably you will do, too. Don’t worry, the rules can be best sometimes. The point is that the more paste you put on the bride or groom the longer they will live happily together. As you guess it it creates some amazing photography opportunities for us wedding photographers. Usually, the Pithi ceremony photos are everybody’s favorite. Occasionally, family members and guests sing and dance to traditional wedding songs as the paste is applied, making the ceremony a lively and fun. Not all the time, but I shot weddings where gifts were exchanged at the end of the Pithi ceremony. It symbolizes the family’s acceptance of the bride and groom.
In India, the Pithi ceremony varies by region. So if you take into consideration that the country has a population of 1.4 billion, you guess it right, there are many variations. In some parts of the country, in some villages for example, Pithi paste is made with milk and sugar. In others, it is made with yogurt and honey. Similarly, the ceremony is performed in the morning, in some regions and in the evening. I mainly shot Indian weddings where the Pithi was performed in the morning. It usually start with rutuals involving the couple’s parents and ankles and anties. Later the bride or groom joins in the rituals followed by the actual Pithi ceremony.
Pithi ceremony photos are my favorite because it includes a lot of laughter and fun. It is a great way to start the wedding weekend. It is the best opportunity for family and friends to come together and celebrate the union of two people in love. Whether you’re attending an Indian wedding for the first time or have been a part of one before, the Pithi ceremony is an experience you won’t forget!