Natchez gets a taste of India during wedding festivities at Dunleith

Published 12:42 am Sunday, May 7, 2017


NATCHEZ — People lined Homochitto Street Saturday to savor the sights, sounds and scents of India.

Dunleith Historic Inn hosted the wedding of Punarvi Patel and Arjit Mehta Saturday with dance, music and traditional Indian customs, things rarely seen in Natchez.Patel is a 2006 graduate of Adams County Christian School and the daughter of local hotel owners Erik and Alka Patel.

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She studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. After graduation she worked for two of the fashion industry’s most influential designers in New York City. She worked for the fashion house Naeem Khan and assisted in the creation of clothing for clients such as Michelle Obama and Beyonce. She also worked for Oscar De La Renta.

In 2014, Patel met Mehta by chance over a conversation about pizza that led to Friday and Saturday’s wedding celebration in Natchez.

For three days, work crews slowly transformed the grounds of Dunleith with red silk, rose petals and ornately decorated gilded statues. In front of the antebellum house, a structure covered in red fabric with a gilded dome suspended inside called a mandap was constructed for the ceremony. Along Homochitto Street, two long tables decorated in red fabric and red flowers were ready to welcome the wedding party for a lunch. Above the table hung long swags of red fabric, crystal chandeliers and a multitude of pocket watches and keys, which was part of the theme for the wedding.

Saturday morning’s festivities began with the groom’s wedding procession down Homochitto Street to the Dunleith entrance gates where female members of the bride’s family greeted the groom. Local residents watched from the side of the road, occasionally getting caught up in the festive music and dance.

From the front gate, the wedding party proceeded to the mandap where the ceremony continued with the procession of the bride and the exchange of flower garlands and several other traditional Indian wedding customs.

The wedding continued into the afternoon with a luncheon and the traditional Vidaai ceremony where the groom and bride depart for their new life together.