Kalimpong | Diki + Rohit

Buddhist Wedding at Chumirchen, near Kalimpong

November took us to the stunningly beautiful and remotest of remote – the gorgeous and hidden village of Chumirchen (don’t bother trying to locate it on the internet, even Google Maps can’t find it!) at the foothills of the Himalayas, close to the India & Bhutan border, with beautiful views and even more beautiful people. The crisp autumn air and an ever-smiling sun were the perfect backdrop to experience our first Buddhist wedding. 

The moment we got on the flight, we knew that this was going to be a special one! By a stroke of luck, the flight’s captain was a to-be-groom we would be shooting in a few months’ time!!! (Amrisha, I wish we had recorded Kartik saying, “Deviyon aur sajjanon…”) What made this coincidence even cooler was that we were going to shoot the wedding of a couple who happen to be cabin-crew members themselves!

With every passing kilometre on the twisting road, and the River Teesta glowing green, our excitement grew. We were greeted with the friendliest smile and hugs by Diki’s grandfather. In his calming presence, it was hard to feel nervous, even though this would to be our first time experiencing a Buddhist wedding. His energy and enthusiasm were contagious and his stories the best! When the build-up story itself is of how he escorted the Dalai Lama into India and was declared dead because he went missing and later showed up at home, you can only imagine how amazing it was to spend time with him.

There are only a few moments in one’s life when one feels truly connected with what they are doing; almost like the energy of the universe coming together to show you that you are on the right path. We had one such moment in the prayer room at Diki’s home. 

Gawa, Diki’s sister, was explaining how the ceremony is conducted. The excitement and stress was clear in her voice and in that moment we realised why we do what we do. It is not to take beautiful photos of the bride and groom on their wedding day. It is so much more than beauty, even more than nostalgia and being chroniclers of a wedding day for generations to come. It is about fully immersing ourselves in these emotional moments that two families are experiencing. It is about giving physical shape, in the form of photographs, to the love that two people have come to develop for each other. 

The wedding itself was full of love and laughter, more often than not caused by Rohit’s use of his pet phrase “Ye bhi seh lenge” (roughly translates to “I will tolerate this as well”; just sounds way cooler in Hindi lol) Small little details (often coordinated over walkie-talkies due to lack of cellphone network coverage!) made everything extra special. Whether it was traditional clothes sourced from Bhutan for all their friends or the “Mr. Ongmu” sweatshirt Rohit had no idea he was wearing!!! There were so many moments of love and care for us to capture. 

The lamas’ rhythmic and solemn chanting in the ornate prayer room created the most serene wedding atmosphere, almost divine; so it was hard to imagine the insanely, loud and wild after-party which saw the DJ pushed out of the joint and shoes being hurled across the dance-floor. Diki and Rohit’s crew (no pun intended) knew how to party and we totally weren’t prepared for Rohit’s kick-ass moves that BURNT the dance floor.

From Bjorn singing for Diki’s mom, to Rohit putting Ranveer Singh to shame dancing on Malhaari; from Shadow wanting to eat Diki’s wedding outfit, to the folks from Shimla wondering why the folks in Kalimpong don’t use heaters in their home; from Kaamil’s awesome selfies to Rohit’s shower only giving cold water on the wedding-day (brrrrrrr); from Abhimanyu spending all his time in the kitchen ogling the delicacies being prepared to Rohit using the selfie camera to shave; from Prasheila needing more winter jackets (all the time! seriously, what’s wrong with you Prasheila?!) to Sangam’s most welcoming family who shared their home, stories and the best momos with us! We love you to bits!!!

We can’t thank Diki and Rohit and their beautiful friends and families for being so welcoming and sharing these two spell-binding days with us. All our love and hugs to them and their crazy friends (Kaamil, Bjorn, Vikash, Agrima, Saish, Shabnam, Suyash, Dilpreet, Mohini, Saurabh, Sonia, Kish, Manbhart, Gawa), and the picturesque village of Chumirchen that stole our hearts!

The only feeling we are left with after this wedding is a wish to do it all over again!

Diki & Rohit’s Buddhist wedding in Chumirchen:

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