So, after several days of traveling across the country enjoying a mini-vacation of sorts and taking several photographs of the sights, we arrive in Chandigarh to begin all the festivities and pre-wedding ceremonies that surround a traditional Sikh union.
It all started with a warm welcome for the bride and groom as our bus pulled up. However, with so many mini events to fit in before Saturday’s wedding, things quickly moved along. A brief prayer ceremony is followed by a well-known South-Asian tradition; the Mehndi party. Here the bride receives intricate, henna-based designs on her hands and feet. This is closely followed by the Choora where red and ivory bangles are gifted to the bride along with other items from the family. Interwoven into all of this is the Batna, where yellow turmeric paste is placed on the face, hands and feet as a way to prepare the person for married life. This is done for both the bride and groom. For two days prior to the actual wedding all these activities are occurring in concert with family visits, expansive lunches and dinner spreads, and a house party in the basement that practically never ended. Perhaps the true highlight of this time frame comes in the form of the Sangeet. In the past a Sangeet was more of a ladies tradition, similar to a bridal shower but more elaborate. Nowadays it has blossomed into a full blown reception-like party that is usually conducted in a very large venue for all to enjoy. In this case an entire neighborhood park was reserved and tented for Reet + Julie’s Sangeet. Hundreds of guests were invited to eat, sing and dance. Finally the party takes to the streets…literally! Also known as the Jaggo, at the end of the night the family takes the couple, along with all their guests, to dance and sing in the streets. A maternal aunt carries a copper vessel on her head and leads the way through the neighborhood to visit friends that have decorated their homes in honor of the couple. The bride and groom are welcomed with sweets and drinks. They dance there for a while and then move on to the next home for the same process. All along, music is played for all to hear.
Actually, there’s so much more occurring. It’s almost impossible to list or show everything. Nonetheless here’s a large sampling of all the fun we’ve just described. Stay tuned for Part 3…the wedding and the reception!