We first discovered this work after it was submitted to the Visual Storytelling Awards 2014. Although it was not chosen as a finalist by the jury, the editors of LensCulture were impressed and decided to publish this feature article about it. Enjoy!

In India, I’m generally known as a wedding photographer. However, in recent years, my role has changed from merely meeting the expectations of this genre, to using this as an opportunity to document contemporary Indian culture. In this position, I get a ringside view into the theatre of society. Everything that’s great about India—and everything that’s wrong with it—can be summarized in a single wedding.

Young men and women assume the role of prince and princess in a Bollywood fantasy. On the periphery, a multitude of workers facilitate the creation of Disneyland-like sets, entertain crowds, cater to thousands of guests, and keep the show going for days. The answers to just about any socioeconomic question can be explained as a cause or effect of Indian wedding culture. Weddings will always be the greatest enterprise of celebration and consumption in India—no holds barred.

Matrimania is my personal take on 21st century India seen through the prism of its wedding culture, a window into a strange world carved out from what is otherwise a familiar space. Matrimania is my recurring nightmares painted by that unique lighting originally meant to express dreamy celebrations.

—Mahesh Shantaram