Let’s start at the end, in a love-filled home in Vijayawada, India, where Shreya, Erika, Mano and I are savouring delicious home-made paratha, lovingly prepared by Mano’s mom. By now, Shreya and Mano’s friends and family feel like our friends and family. Surrounding us on the walls of this home wherein Mano grew up, are picture-frames beholding historical wedding photographs from generations past. In my pocket, securely fastened to my belt loop, are memory cards containing photographic documentation of all that has transpired throughout the last 4 days … a pocket full of memories not unlike – but very unlike – the archaic wedding photos on these walls. We’re exhausted and preparing for our inter-continental commute back home … but we’re smiling … reminiscing … and dreaming, which is how it all began.
In a quiet nook of The Hundred Acre Woods, 6 months earlier, Erika and I were hunkered down around our phone, cheek-to-cheek, sharing a churro and our single pair of headphones. It was the only place we could find relative peace and quiet in the facade of The Happiest Place on Earth. Travel schedules, time zones, citizenship complications and countless other circumstances had all conspired to render this our one and only opportunity to finally meet Shreya and Mano. And so, as our kids flew over Neverland with cousins and grandparents; Shreya, Mano, Erika and I hatched a fantastic plan to get us and our cameras to Hyderabad, India to document their 4-day Telugu wedding celebrations. We had no idea what we were in for!
30 hours of planes, trains and rickshaws brought us half way around the world to Golkonda Resort outside the madness of Hyderabad. There, we witnessed a small army (namely Adda Events, Ultima Events and Celebrations, and the remarkably talented Suma Korapati) essentially transform the already tranquil grounds into a shining ethereal oasis. Figuratively and literally, the stage had been set.
Words cannot describe that which would transpire throughout the following 4 days (and we couldn’t understand a single word of the commentary which attempted to). What we witnessed and documented was essentially a non-stop, swirling, whirling celebration of sacred earth, fire, water, air, and turmeric… so much turmeric! Most of the time, we had no idea what was happening… but we were absolutely enthralled with it all… the symbolic rituals… the flavourful foods… the rich colours… the music and dance (Zinx Band was incredible)… the ceremonious food fights… the staff who were absolutely bent on ensuring every wedding guest had the time of their lives, and especially, the unbridled bonds of love.
From Shreya’s hometown of Hyderabad, we all travelled 300 kilometres to Mano’s hometown of Vijayawada where hundreds of well-wishers showered Shreya and Mano in thousands of flower petals to the remarkable tunes of IndoSoul. Which brings us back to Mano’s home, his mom’s paratha, and those historic framed wedding prints. It was a perfect, fitting end to 4 days we’ll never forget.
A special thank you to our friends and alumni, Sam & Ekta and Namrata for their valuable help, and to Chai Motion Pictures who were awesome to work alongside (we can’t wait to see their film). Teamwork made the dream work.
Shreya and Mano, what can we say? You and your families trusted us with wide open hearts. We hope these photos help keep these memories alive in your families for generations to come!