India – January 2011
Abhaneri is a small village in the Rajasthan province of India. It is famous for its beautiful step wells and the ruins of the Harshat Mata temple that date back to the 9th century. These historic sites are really impressive, but they are not the main reason Abhaneri holds great memories for me.
It is not unusual to come across different wedding ceremonies when travelling through India – I saw three different weddings in a two week period alone. Many people will already know that there are a number of different Indian wedding traditions that take place over a number of days. One of these traditions involves the bride and other women in her family dancing and playing music through the streets on their way to their temple to gain a blessing before the wedding ceremony.
This is what we witnessed in Abhaneri, a colourful procession of women dancing along the main road of the village.
We were only watching for a moment before we were beckoned to join in the dancing. No one else was keen, so I palmed my camera off to my tour guide and dived into the circle. It was a surreal blur of colour and smiles. One of the old ladies handed me a handkerchief and demonstrated how I should be dancing with it. She held my hand, laughing at my attempts to dance as gracefully as the bride.
Swirling around in a sea of colourful saris, the drums beating loudly and the crowd singing. The feeling was intoxicating. I couldn’t have been happier. It made for a unique experience that I truly will never ever forget.