The mandap or wedding canopy is the focal point of every Hindu wedding ceremony, a sacred structure supported by four pillars under which the bride and groom are seated and exchange their wedding vows. It is within this sanctified edifice that the auspicious ceremony takes place witnessed by the sacred fire.
The four-pillared structure is said to represents the four Vedas as well as the four goals of a fulfilled Hindu life (Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha). The symbolism of the mandap goes further with each pillar being understood to represent the four parents of the couple, without whose support, love and blessings, the marriage would not have come to take place. Such is the sanctity of the mandap that a special ritual is held the day before the wedding to bless the inauguration of the mandap, known as Mandap Mahurat or Mandap Ropan.
The last few years have witnessed several changes in the design and style of mandaps. But the basic religious and cultural sanctity attached to them by Hindus remains the same: Mandaps are also becoming popular amongst those of other religions such as Sikhs & Muslims, obviously more for aesthetic effect than religious significance - but nonetheless they go a long way to enhancing the wedding décor and provide a scenic focus for the couple to take their vows.
Selecting a mandap has always been an important decision in planning a Hindu wedding, but in recent times, couples have been taking the selection process a stage further. Gone are the days when the mandap was an "off the shelf element" of the wedding décor.
Today, the sacred wedding canopy is a fashion statement in itself - a reflection of the couple's taste and discerning style and should thus come up high on the list of priorities when planning your big day.
From A Four Pillared Canopy To Fashion Statement Extraordinaire…
The structure and style of mandaps has evolved from traditional designs that typically included sankheda (traditional coloured paintwork), bandhani (tie and dye) fabrics and mirror work, to more sleek, contemporary and chic designs. With British Asian weddings taking on a more westernized style Mandaps have evolved to reflect this trend, combining western design concepts with an eastern look and feel.
Recent popular designs have been the round top mandap, mandaps with iron domes, roman pillar mandaps, wooden carved mandaps and mandaps festooned with fresh flowers and ornate drapes. Other imaginative concepts have included water feature mandaps, chandelier mandaps and even mandaps that emulate the grandeur of period films like Devdas.
From chic and slender to grandiose and majestic, a mandap is guaranteed to be found that has every couple's name written all over it. If you do your homework well, you will really start to tell the difference between companies that purchase their mandaps off the shelf and those that have a key input into creating the latest bespoke designs.
Perhaps the best thing about contemporary mandap styles is their adaptability and scope for customisation. One no longer needs to think along conventional lines. A mandap that expresses your individuality is just a thought away and mandap companies will do all they can to customize their creations to your individual requirements and wedding theme.
Each year sees the emergence of stunning and innovative mandap designs on the market with coordinated accessories, backdrops, statues, candles, lighting, water features and foyer displays, all used to complement the mandap and build an all-encompassing theme. Most mandap decorators will now go out of their way to source accessories that match their clients chosen wedding theme and which coordinate together to transform a mundane venue into a setting of ethereal fantasy.
The Mandap Of Your Dreams
Many couples will search out a mandap that compliments the chosen theme and style of their wedding, whereas for others the theme of their wedding is created around the mandap they have picked out. Whichever approach you take, you should have a fair idea of how much of your wedding budget you will be allocating to the mandap and wedding décor and what style of mandap compliments your personality and style before you begin your search.