Kaala shah Kaala. Kaala shaah Kaala, mera kaala hai sardar goriyan nu daffa karo.” I stepped in the hall where several colourful ladies sat on the floor singing this. While witnessing all the glitz and glamour, absorbing the show that had been put up, I began to think what might have happened behind the scene. Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate might promote “No band, no baaja, no baraat”, but try convincing a Punjabi for that!
1. Paath: In theory, the main motive of Paath is to take blessings of God and pray that everything should go on smoothly. It’s like God giving a clean chit to the family and saying, “I declare this viyaah open.” Since the gathering is not big, each Aunty is clearly noticeable. This is the first chance for relatives to poke their noses into the wedding preparation. The ladies won’t move their asses to go back home until they get enough prasad packed for their grandchildren and gulp down n-th cup of tea while chatting and giggling. All this while, the bride’s family members keep wondering when the guests will finally leave so they could get some moments of rest. With this mind-war, the first function on the check-list is ticked.
2. Mehendi: This is an evening function which means that the bride’s folks are going to have a super busy morning. While the guests are cherishing the “Shaadi De Ghar Di Hulchul”, the folks are high on tension: (A) They have to take care of the caterers as well as numerous relatives who will keep pouring in at every odd hour one can think of. (B) They have to take care of the ego problem that runs through the veins of Punjabis. If a cup of tea is given to a Maasi and by mistake a Bhua is missed out, it will definitely be a huge issue of concern.
Suddenly the mehendiwalas will arrive at noon to start their Herculean task of applying henna on the bride’s hands and feet. This will take somewhere around 6 to 8 hours and is going to cost a fortune, but who cares! Even the youngest kid will get henna applied because her Maasi/Bhua/Didi/Blah Blah Blah is getting married.
And still if the wedding feel has not sunken in any one of us, it definitely will, once we get to go near the food stalls! The tinkling aroma of those innumerable dishes will surely lend you every kind of feel that you might have missed. Liquor will flow like water because that is how we celebrate (read “boast”). And you will easily find the DJ floor full of people dancing with drunken Uncles shaking their booties to the tune of Chikni Chameli instead of any Chameli in sight. Because that is actually how we celebrate. Event two: ticked!
3. Baraat: It’s not a Punjabi wedding if everyone is not running behind the scheduled time. The baraat is indeed the best occasion to witness this huge tension. If the groom’s family is late by just 2–3 hours, it is fair enough. (The events were scheduled keeping that in mind. Had they arrived on time, it would have been cause of a bigger worry!)
So, the function kick starts with a “milni” ceremony. I find the ceremony very funny. It’s like, “Yo the groom’s uncle? I’m the bride’s uncle. BRO-HUG!” And it is NOT at all weird if there happens a bro-hug between a 10-year-old kid and a 50-year-old oldie because both of them can be representing some sort of a brother of bride and groom respectively.
Moving further, the clichéd oh-so-posed photographs take away much of the time. Why on earth! With the bride carrying her 5 kg wedding dress gracefully, all she wishes is to slip into her comfortable pyjamas and catch onto some sleep. But with the third function coming to an end, it’s been the Rs-1.5-lakh wedding dress and 70K make-up that she’s had on herself for every purpose.
4. Anand Karaj: This is the last and indeed the most important function. The “pheras” take place and the bride and the groom tie the knot and hence get a tag of “Just Married” to flaunt. As it is the fourth consecutive day that you have been attending the wedding procedure and watching faces of girls with huge makeup, you actually begin to wonder, how are they even bearing themselves?! This is the event when it is just a matter of few minutes which is going to change the lives of two souls.
With all these functions taking place in full zest and vigour, the bride feels all the time that she is too young to get married at this point of her life. But after spending like lakhs of rupees to satisfy the happy (read “greedy”) relatives and present the wedding with a pomp and show, is there a looking back? Is there really a need for all that “jhataak” and eye-blinding show? The expensive garments and makeup? Beauty lies in simplicity and the bride indeed looks the most beautiful when she is sleeping peacefully in her bed, even in the most rugged clothes. The wedding budget is surely enough to sponsor a perfect world tour honeymoon for the couple! But alas, the traditions!