The Punjabi-Sikh wedding we attended…LOTS of pics

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Ah. I have got the photos onto Flickr and am all set….

First, the disclaimers, which I am very good at.

…there was no one to explain things to us, so much of what follows is my interpretation. The bride’s family are Hindu Punjabis, the grooms’ family are Sikhs, and this was the first time I have ever seen a Sikh wedding ceremony. So I don’t know what the ceremonies are called, etc.

Secondly, I was also doing a lot of rubber-necking because so many who’s who-s had to be gawked at, from Rahul Gandhi onwards…so I might have missed something, too, while I was looking at Politician A or Film Star B or TV Star C.

Well, let’s begin with the decorated horse that the groom traditionally rides in on. These days, it is only a token short distance. In many north Indian communities (and so it was this time, too–no, I asked the guy in the photo, I did NOT check myself ) it has to be a white female horse that the groom rides…I don’t even want to go into the Freudian significance of that…. ;-)

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Then we come to the floral entrance arch that was built for guests to walk in through. Marigolds in their millions….you can see KM, looking spruce as a goose in his formal  “bandh-gala” or closed-neck (Nehru) jacket, on the right-hand side.

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Here’s the groom coming into the wedding area, with his entourage. The turbans in this photograph are the Sikh style ones.

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“Here comes the bride” goes a famous song, and here she is, with some of her friends keeping her company! In this photo you can see the way many of the guests wore the turban…not ready-made ones but pieces of cloth properly tied as turbans, with a long swath hanging over one shoulder, or down the back.

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No, that’s NOT the bride and groom. That’s the bride’s mother (that figure of comedy, the mother in law!) not garlanding, but just holding the groom, in a ceremony I couldn’t understand, but which is understandable as a cermonial welcome.

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Here’s the groom…notice his dress details, and the sword that he carries. Amongst south Indians, Coorgis (or Kodavas) who have a militaristic history, also carry swords at the wedding and chop banana stems symbolic of their enemies….Sikhism was a kind of militant religion born out of the need to protect Hinduism from  the invading Moghuls and Islam (at least, that’s my opinion.) A Sikh has five things beginning with K…Kesh, or hair (they don’t cut their hair or shave); Kangi or comb (with all that hair, that makes sense) Kaccha or loin cloth, and Kripaan or dagger (which they carry on their belt.) However, this ceremonial sword is different.

The turban of the groom’s friend is in the Holkar style, reminiscent of the dynasty that once ruled Maharashtra. You can see the bandh-gala kurta too. The “trousers” are called Chudidar, that is they fall at the ankles in several rings that look like Chudi, or bangles. You can have chudidar sleeves, too.It is a very traditional Indian dress-design feature.

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And here, on a flower-bedecked dais, is the Holy Book of Sikhism the Guru Granth Sahib. It is brought in ceremonially and installed, and will be a holy witness to the wedding. There is the priest attending reverently to it, who will also conduct the wedding, and behind him, an attendant fans the Holy book gently with a whisk.

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The bride waits with her friends, looking gorgeous as every bride manages to do….bevy of beauties, including some from across the seas! (This bride was educated in Switzerland.)

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The bride and groom take their places in front of the Guru Granth Sahib to start the actual wedding.

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The exchange of vows or mantras or shlokas (I was too far away to hear) over, the newly-weds leave the wedding site, and begin mingling with the guests.

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The Guru Granth Sahib is carried out, ceremoniously and revenently, back to the Gurudwara. You can see the whisk more clearly in this photo.

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This band, with skirling bagpipes, drums, spats and other things from a bygone era, was playing at intervals throughout the wedding…some western music, and some Hindi film numbers!

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And here, as a complement to the picture of the Nagaswaram I posted some time ago, are the north Indian pipe instruments called the Shehnai. This player (the one in the dark kurta) is the nephew of the legendary Bismillah Khan, one of the top Shehnai players of India. On his right you can see the Dholak player and on his left sits his assistant Shehnai player; on HIS left, is the tabla player. All of them were simply excellent. Among other ragas, I identified Gurjari Todi that day. In an acknowlegement of the changing taste of the times, they too concluded with several film songs.

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Well, that was a quick Sikh wedding for all of you, and my own future reference and enjoyment! This took place on the 5th of November, 2006…The guests were in thousands, and the venue was the bride’s family farmhouse in Gurgaon, a satellite township of Delhi.

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