December 18th, 2018
Project 3 Reflection
My project was based on the South Asian community of Jackson Heights. I chose to focus on the bridal culture that is present in that location. Two of the locations I chose in that neighborhood were bridal stores called Armaan’s Bridal, and Karishma Clothing. Alongside, these two stores are several other bridal stores that are filled with vibrant colors, and dresses. This neighborhood means a lot to time and spent most of my childhood because my parents owned a South Asian clothing store there. Two reasons why I was always fascinated by the bridal culture was one the beautiful dresses that were displayed and present in the stores, and second because brides would always come in with their in laws. In the beginning of the project, I wanted to take a critical approach and find out how a bride feels about the groom’s family calling the shots, and in particular choosing the dress. As I researched, spoke to two brides, and saw how the families bonded, my conclusion of the meaning behind shopping for the dresses changed. I initially thought the brides would feel angered and left out from the process of choosing their dream dress, but I realized it was so much more than that. The five dresses were just the materialistic device used to bring two families together and the Jackson Heights community was a part of that journey.
The tool that I used for the project was Story Maps, and in particular the Cascade map. The title of my project was the “Jackson Heights Bridal Culture: The Five Dresses of Passage” The women wear five dresses that represent their rite of passage into marriage. The Cascade map was perfect for me to use because it allowed me to put pictures and writings together. The map allowed scrolling which symbolized the passages that the women go through. Each scroll exemplified a new dress of passage. Since, the dresses are so beautiful I wanted my project to appear that way as well. I chose to add a gold glitter image on top of black from Google as my background. The white font color kept the simplicity of it. Although, the images of the dress were taken by myself, I included professional images alongside it to make it more appealing. In addition, I changed the color of the font and added links to certain words to add my sources. I didn’t want to add links separately onto the slides because it would make the project look odd.
Each image had a different dress related to a different ceremony. I did my research for each entry though articles, blogs, and speaking with the two brides. The Nikkah image was of a bride dressed in an anarkali. I knew as viewers that many would not know what this was so I added a link with an explanation of the dress. Since, Nikkah is an Arabic word I added a link for that as well that stated the definition. The Nikkah is the ceremony/ritual where vows are exchanged, and the marriage contract is signed. By saying the words “Qubool Hai” the bride and groom accept the marriage with their free will. “Qubool Hai”, means I accept it in English. The ceremony is very intimate, and is conducted by a religious leader known as the Imam. After this, the celebration continues and eventually the bride leaves with her husband and his family. The Nikkah dress is traditionally red and through research I found out that in South Asian cultures, red symbolizes new life/beginnings, union between two people, and fertility. The Haldi image showed a yellowish-orange dress that is worn by brides for the Haldi ceremony. Haldi means turmeric, and the turmeric symbolizes purity, fertility, and good health. The color yellow is worn because it is considered to bring peace and prosperity into married life. The third image was the Mehendi dress which was a green sari. The blouse was woven with gold embroidery, as well as the draping below it. Mehendi means henna, and henna is made from plants, or flowering shrubs. The green dress is worn as a representation of that. The Mehendi is put on the bride and the darker the color the longer it is said the marriage will last. These are the traditional dress colors, and it is slowly beginning to change. New trends are emerging but I believe it is important to know the traditional dress colors since there is meaning behind it. By viewing these images, and writings I want the reader to understand the meaning behind the dresses and ceremonies.
Overall, I really enjoyed doing this project and using Story Maps. I actually I’m happy to say I am excited to use it again in the future, as well as recommend it to friends. I enjoyed going to the stores and seeing the brides try it on, as well as seeing the various dresses in the stores. They were all breathtaking, and it was obvious from the looks of it that a lot of hard work goes into making one. The project helped me connect with people that I might have not spoken to prior, as well as helping me find a new understanding of the South Asian bridal culture. It is a beautiful; yet bitter sweet moments between two families. Since, the project was based on our own community and an interest it was fun to do. In addition, I was glad to bring light to the South Asian community that many do not know or aren’t familiar with. It was a fun, exciting, and new way of learning as well as approach.
Link to project : https://arcg.is/DiKHK