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The officiating priest kindles the fire which always witnesses a Hindu wedding. It dispels darkness and ignorance and is called upon as a god, Agni. Alpa and Prakash, married in a restaurant, make offerings during the nuptial rite by feeding the fire various grains -- rice, puffed rice or popcorn, other grains, and clarified butter, known as ghee.
Katrina Thomas's notes: A wedding is a major rite in the Hindu life cycle, its format and sequence varying greatly in the regions within India as well as abroad. The earliest weddings I photographed were performed by Ram Patwardhan, the first Hindu priest in New York City, who in 1956 designed a modern Vedic ceremony, preserving its essence while streamlining a three- or four-day event to little more than thirty minutes. There being no Hindu temples here at the time, weddings took place in the home or in restaurants serving Asian Indian food. Later, I photograph weddings in newly built Hindu temples, all of which accommodate differing priests and the various traditions which marry a couple. If the couple has not the same homeland, they agree to choose a region of North or South India.