Often known as the moment that a girl becomes a bride, the varmala is the ritual of acceptance for the bride and the groom. Joshi says, “It’s the time she is adorned with all the jewellery her family has collected from the moment she is born. It became increasingly clear that in this setting, the worth of a woman, her family’s wealth and their care for her lies in the amount of jewellery she is adorned with on this day.”
As a contemporary Indian woman, Joshi felt like her value didn’t lie in the amount of jewellery her parents adorned her with in this moment of transition, but the opportunities that they presented her with—her education their love, their memories, the highs, lows, travel, friendships, relationships and kinships that have brought her to this moment. Giving tradition her own spin, Joshi wore no jewellery for the function, but designed a draped dress herself with 3D embroidery of sweet nothings and collectibles from her travels, home, childhood, grandparents, friends, in-laws, relatives, her favourite coffee shop and so on. The 3D embroidery sat on her chest, on a pair of sheer gloves and shoes. Balser’s velvet sherwani, gold skirt and shawl became an extension of Joshi’s 3D embroidery, almost as if he was one of the elements that has made her who she is, as she stepped out to the varmala. He continued to wear the pearl necklace gifted to him by his in-laws, his German grandfather’s gold necklace, and a golden ear cuff by Swati. The hair and makeup for the wedding was boldly editorial and decidedly non-bridal. Joshi was a bride with copper hair.
The couple made a conscious choice to use a selection of local flowers for the wedding. The large cascading flower installation was made by 300 women in Deoria in Uttar Pradesh through an NGO called Naragidevi that is run by Joshi’s sister Pranchal. The women used dead stock to make 20,000 red genda phools which were also used in other wedding collaterals. The other significant piece that was used was that of a large stone that is a play on the engagement diamond ‘rock’, since diamond mining is one of the most problematic industries in the world but revered in weddings as a sign of eternal love. The menu, also extremely conscious and thoughtful, featured local dishes and produce with both vegetarian and non vegetarian items because of the diversity of the guests.
The joy and warmth emanating from friends and family who flew in from all over was evidence that this beautiful blend of love, art, culture, cuisine and design was the perfect setting for this multicultural, new-age love story. The next part is an open-to-public event where the couple take the ideas, concepts and artwork created around the wedding and in collaboration with everyone involved to create an exhibit called Wedding at The Great Eastern Home in Mumbai with a three-day event and opening vernissage on 21 January, 2023.
Photos: Ryan Tandya; Eshant Raju Photography; Saurabh Suryan. Art Direction: Franciskus Raymond Hailum.