Making Your Mandap
Perhaps it’s because the
mandap carries such religious significance that many weddings don’t treat it
with the kind of glamour seen on display throughout the rest of the ceremony. In
many cases, a simple arch adorned with the most basic array of decorations seems
appropriate; in fact, some think too much fuss might even detract from its
spiritual connotations: that of an auspicious canopy symbolising the universe,
set on four pillars representing the sacred scriptures of Vedas.
it this way is not only redundant, but also goes against the Hindu scriptures
that decree that flowers and religious symbols be used to represent beauty and
joy. And there’s no beauty in something that looks cheap, plain and
Mandap providers certainly aren’t putting up with any outdated
notions. As Anit Lakhani, director of The Lakhani Group, points out: ‘The mandap
is the centrepiece of your ceremony. It doesn’t matter how incredible everything
else looks, the whole impact will be lost if you use an average mandap because
all eyes will be on it. It simply has to have that all-important wow
The average mandap is the standard four-pillar wooden staged
structure, but it’s the way it is crafted and decorated – using ornate pillars,
flowers, backdrops, drapes, lighting, ornate sculptures and motifs – that will
make yours stand out from the rest. And because more couples, be they Hindu,
Muslim or Christian, are opting to have a mandap as the ultimate centrepiece for
the Big Day, the choice out there is truly phenomenal.
Selecting a mandap is not just about picking one that catches your
eye in a picture. You need to see the mandap almost like an enchanted palace at
the end of a fairytale walkway. The whole set-up should leave your guests mesmerised from the moment they enter your chosen venue. The welcoming arch
doesn’t have to start at the mandap itself, but can be placed at the entrance,
your whole venue into one giant mandap. Your mandap provider can give you an
option of an entrance gate that just frames the mandap or an entire foyer
display; depending on the venue layout and how it compliments the mandap you
The major difference between an English wedding and an Asian
one is that, because we skip the church part, the bride doesn’t get to walk up
the aisle – but she can when she steps onto the walkway leading to the mandap.
And what better excuse to roll out the red carpet? By covering the aisle with
red and white rose petals, and lining it with majestic ornaments and statues,
all glowing with lights and candles, the whole effect can transport even the
most average venue into the realms of fairytale fantasies.
Mandaps come in all sorts of shapes, colour, carving and décor.
You can have anything from a standard four-pillared single-domed structure to
the giant eight-pillared triple-domed mandap, but be mindful that it doesn’t
overshadow the rest of the proceedings. Size definitely matters, but it’s not
the case that bigger is necessarily better. Bipin Patel, the director of Gayatri
Mandaps, points out: ‘Selecting the right mandap for your occasion means you
can’t simply hire the biggest or most expensive and expect it to fit in with the
proceedings. You need to take things such as the height, colour and feel of the
venue into consideration – you don’t want your beautiful mandap to end up
looking out of place or, worse still, not fitting! When selecting your mandap,
always remember that it should complement the surroundings rather than work
For instance, if you’re thinking of putting your mandap on
stage – is that stage big enough to accommodate it? Remember, you need space on
either side of the mandap for the photographer and videographer to roam freely –
not to mention making room for things such as head table, speeches and the
WHAT’S IN A MANDAP?
Other than the necessary
items such as the agni pot, bajot, chori and so on, one of the most striking
features lies in the use of statues. Because mandaps are no longer exclusively
for Hindu weddings, the range of statues you can have has broadened from the
traditional religious ones of Ganesh and Krishna, and can be carved from wood,
metal, fibre or even solid bronze! If you prefer to shop around for your own
ornamental decorations, you can do so, as long as you are clear on the theme and
get your mandap provider’s approval.
Picking the flowers are all to do
with matching the budget, season and style. Satya Norris, from Tulsi Flowers,
points out: ‘Carnations, roses and white lilies are always in demand. Just make
sure the flowers are fresh because one little wilt can let your whole mandap
down, particularly in the case where flowers make up the canopy, or when the
pillars are hollowed out and filled with flowers.
The backdrops and
drapes you use are vital for making your mandap stand out, so look for richer
materials like silk, organza and russet to prevent any of them from looking
shabby or flimsy. Also, the designs of backdrops have moved away from elaborate
depictions from religious scriptures – which can look garish because they tend
to be multi-coloured – and instead have gone for the more classier minimalist
approach; the night sky and crystals are amongst the most popular, because they
are easier to light up and to create an ethereal, magical atmosphere.
move away from the strictly religious theme has also allowed for other
innovations in terms of styling – with Oriental and Bollywood being amongst the
most wanted. As Satya Norris says: ‘When selecting your ideal mandap, the best
tool at your disposal is your imagination.’
Also, when choosing chairs
and pedestals – make sure they match the rest of the mandap. If your service
provider only has gold chairs, but you know they will clash with the orange
theme, go elsewhere for them. Whatever you hire or buy, make sure you have the
complete picture in mind beforehand.
TAKE IT OUTSIDE
bypass the strict fire regulations by holding the ceremony outside the venue.
And what better backdrop for your mandap than nature itself? The bride and groom
walk up the vibrant red carpet laid over the soft green grass, with the blue sky
above them, surrounded by guests happy to be in the sun and plenty of room to
breathe – it’s hard to picture a happier setting for your big moment.
this being Britain, you need to take extra precautions. Because rain can appear
at any moment, it is advisable to incorporate a marquee as part of a grand
summer wedding, enabling you and your guests to retreat to, without losing the
moment or feeling of the great outdoors altogether.
Also avoid using
hollowed-out pillars or light artefacts as the wind might knock them over. Try
to arrange for someone from your mandap service to be present in the case of an
outdoor wedding to deal with any unexpected mishaps.
THE PRICE IS
A reputable mandap provider should have at least 20 mandaps at
their disposal, with an average price tag of £2000. Avoid providers who are
rigid about the choice because many people prefer to mix and match to create
their own style.
Mandaps can also be a minefield for hidden costs. Warns
Anit Lakhani: ‘The actual mandap might be affordable enough – but the add-ons
can take the price through the roof – especially when it comes to flowers,
because it is not uncommon to have them imported from as far away as Bangalore
and Venezuela. The best way to avoid this is by agreeing on a fixed price – that
includes all the amenities – from the outset.
‘I advise that you do as
much research about mandaps beforehand because many couples are clueless about
what they need and what they don’t. What looks good in a photograph isn’t good
enough to go on because it was shot in a different location. Work your ideas
together with your mandap provider’s suggestions to get the one that suits your
budget and your needs.
And finally, because of the rising demand in
mandaps from all communities because of their aesthetic appeal – book the mandap
of your choice as early as you can so you can relax in the knowledge that your
wedding is shaping up to be just perfect.’