Anointed & Adorned: Indian Weddings in Houston

Pooja Pratankar's bridal adornment.

Every day, the Houston metropolitan area is refreshed by immigrants from across the world who have chosen to make it their home, thus forming communities that expand the city’s cultural palette and invigorate us all. Indian weddings are an extraordinary addition to that palette, involving rituals and festivities that fuse music, dance, oral poetry, visual embellishment and special foods of all kinds. These elements recur in weddings worldwide, but the Indian celebrations are notably saturated with artistic traditions that resonate and enliven.

Anointed and Adorned explores continuity and change in the artistry and festivity of Indian weddings in Houston. A complex mix of East and West, ancient and modern, Indian weddings in the region offer participants the opportunity to enjoy the traditions of the mother country performed with nuances that reflect a Western environment. They celebrate the beauty that resides in the old and accustomed, alongside the appeal of the new and surprising.

But it is worthy of note that Indian weddings, here and there, differ in their central emphasis from Western ones. Despite the importance of the bride and groom in Indian rituals and ceremonies, the focus is especially on family and community and the overt joining of two social worlds. Indian weddings anoint this communion and adorn this most important of ritual moments with a profusion of color, sound and sensation.

This set of webpages attempts to emulate the manner in which the exhibition mirrored the processive character of the Indian wedding. After introducing the couples who allowed documentation of their weddings, it explores the event preparations and the actual progress of the ceremony.

Anointed and Adorned is a public project produced as a part of the Houston Folklife Collection. The work contained in the Houston Folklife Collection was produced by Folklorist Pat Jasper and Project Manager Angel Quesada, with assistance from a range of colleagues and the generous participation of Houstonians and citizens of surrounding communities. The creation of this website was supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts Folk and Traditional Arts Program and University of Houston Special Collections.