Kashmir Pt 1: A Gujjar Wedding

Kashmir Pt 1: A Gujjar Wedding

Gujjar men wait just out of the snow for the wazwan to begin.

 

I had the privilege to host my good friend Jon McCormack around Kashmir this past week. We were able to visit some of my favorite places in a short three days. One of the highlights for us was the wedding of the daughter of an old Gujjar friend. If you are a long time reader of my blog you will know that Gujjars are a shepherd people living in Kashmir. We developed close friendships with these people over the years living in the valley. The Bakarwal Gujjars are semi-nomatic traveling from one permanent home to another, the Kashmir version of “snow-birds“. There are other types of Gujjar that raise water buffalo and have settled, like my long time friend Abdul Aziz. We have known each other since before either of us had children. So when I heard his daughter, only a few years older than Jessie, was getting married I knew I needed to attend. Once again I became the official Gujjar photographer. I was pleased to take this role. Like all Kashmiri weddings it is celebrated over several days. Jon was only able to see the preparations. The big day was held after he left. These photos are from that day. On this day there is a wazwan served to sometimes hundreds of people. This time they slaughtered several sheep and a cow or two. There were pounds and pounds of rice cooked on open fires. It is all quite dramatic. All in all, it was great to be back in Kashmir to help out a friend.

 

Men watch as the Waza, or chef, cooks the meat.

 

A pot of rice is moved to an additional fire. A creative pot holder.

 

The waza sits among his creation.

 

More waiting.

 

Finally, the first course is served.

 

Food is served to the women first.

 

The bride (in red) with friends.

 

The bride is surrounded buy her friends and family.

 

Naseema, the bride.

 

The father of the bride, Abdul Aziz with his new son-in-law. Unlike Western weddings, tradition dictates bride and groom should not look happy.

 

Gujjar Portrait 1

 

Gujjar Portrait 2

 

Gujjar Portrait 3

 

I think this is the Kashmiri Waza.

 

The wedding is over and everyone returns home (with leftovers).

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.

9 Comments

  1. Travis

    Great pictures Matt! I hope one day I can go back to that area.

    Reply
    • Matt

      Thanks, be sure to check out Jon’s as well. I’ll be posting more from the rest of the trip over the next few days.

      Reply
  2. Jackie

    Stunning photos. Love the contrast of bright color against the men’s faces and clothing. The portraits are just beautiful.

    Reply
  3. Jon McCormack

    Absolutely lovely Matt! Clearly I missed an incredible day. I love Portrait #2 – just superb!

    Reply
    • Matt

      Jon, All thanks to you!

      Reply
  4. Robert

    Absolutely incredible images. Outstanding.

    Reply
  5. Carol Hart

    Just wonderful photos, taken in difficult snowy weather (which added to the photos, of course). I’ve looked at most of the photos on your site, and listened to your interview. Terrific. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Matt

      Thanks Carol, Glad you’ve enjoyed the site. Please keep coming back.

      Reply

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