A Sikh Wedding in Mewar


And when you travel, you open new doors into the magnanimity of the world. You get to see things from a different vantage point. And in your head you think…where I was all this while! Craving for one vacation after other is like sitting in a train waiting for another bridge to pass by. Because each bridge takes you into a trance…its rhythmic beats awaken your rhythm with the universe and its novelty brings you a new sense of joy and exploration. It is exactly how going from one holiday to another feels…leaving all that is mundane behind and gearing up for the unexpected.
One of such vacations was when I traveled to Udaipur for a friend’s wedding. When I reached the Lake City of India to see the first ever Sikh wedding of my life, I had a picture in my mind. A picture that was created out of stories I had heard about the grandeur of a true Punjabi wedding. A part of those stories seemed real as we were welcomed by a zealous joint family, kids running around and a huge family house which was being decorated with colorful lights. Just after finishing our lunch we were pulled into the dance practice by our very own bride-to-be as she wanted perfection on her special day. Before we started the practice, I saw her grandmother preparing for a performance with the same excitement as the children of the family. With her unhurried moves and wrinkled skin, she was dancing to a cannily chosen Bollywood song filled of prayers and was trying her best to make it memorable for her granddaughter.
Next morning we started our shopping spree and reached the famous Hathipol market. I always knew Rajasthan was all about colors and I saw an enormous display of it every at shop we went to…vibrant leheriya dupattas, the famous meenakari jewelry, mojari footwears and black metal and silver bangles with vast variety and bargaining options were available in the local shops. Some of the shops also had miniature Rajasthani paintings called Pichwai which emerge from Lord Krishna’s stories and have roots in Nathdwara, the town famous for its Srinathji(the seven year old form of Lord Krishna) temple. We also went for some hippie shopping at Jagadish Chowk and found ourselves engrossed in a wide range of indo western clothes with patch and mirror work, leather bags and antique decorative pieces. This small lane in Udaipur was an uphill area with mostly European people around.
We took the old age ‘autorikshaw’ to come back. The bright yellow autorikshaw, in all its glory, was a compressed and modern version of a chariot, decorated with glass and wool danglers of varied hues. The driver was using an unconventional manually operated horn which sounded like a loudspeaker. We passed narrow streets in the main city which sent out the whiff of freshly prepared tea and the famous daal bati churma being sold on the local carts. Because of the up and downhill terrain of the city, we had a bumpy ride back home which was an energetic precursor to the extended wedding celebrations. We then changed to the musical evening organized by the ladies of the household (typically referred to as Sangeet in North Indian families). Women were dancing to their local versions of fun filled homely songs. Some of them were even playing musical instruments to adjunct the spirit of euphoria.
When you attend a Punjabi wedding, you can see every person elated and it shows in everything: from their food and drinks to their dance; and the one thing that depicts their flamboyance the best is their dressing sense. Full of colors and full of life and even the elderly are no exception. From the bride’s brother folding up his dastaar(a smaller form of turban) to her sister in law cannily embellishing her hair with a paraandi(a long and colorful artificial braid) to her aunt drying her freshly done mehendi, everyone was busy making a maneuver to look their best. We saw all the guests wearing exuberant clothes and jewelry irrespective of their age. Every part of their celebration conveyed true sense of enjoyment and the brighter side of life. We then reached Paras Hill Resort, a palace like hotel situated on national highway 8, for the engagement ceremony. The venue was reflecting the opulence which is ingrained in the regal architecture of Rajasthan. The carefully carved pillars, the humongous chandeliers and the indigenous marble flooring glorified this sheer piece of art. Even though it was mid-September when it’s not too cold in Rajasthan, there was a chilly feel in the air. A grey silhouette of the Aravali hills could be seen in the dusky light. We merrily witnessed the engagement and the power packed performances by the family members while enjoying the ambiance.
On the day of the wedding, it was a much simpler version of the 3 day celebration that preceded it. We all headed to the Gurdwara, welcomed the Baraat(the groom and his relatives) and quietly sat and watched the bride and the groom circumventing Guru Granth Sahib(the holy Sikh religion book)as the head priest read out the vows.
As the four day wedding ceremony came to an end with the vidai(send-off) of the bride, time stood still at the entrance of the house which we had seen being decorated when we had arrived four days back. It was a moment with mixed emotions for all the family members. As the car went blurry in front of our eyes, all the time spent in Udaipur went past my memory. Sometimes beholding life in a different setup than yours gives you a perspective on the magnitude of assortment the world offers. And yes, it does open new doors into the magnanimity of the universe.

S.Upadhyay.

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