Sunday 22 January 2012

The Punjabi Wedding!!!!!!!!!

Punjabi’s are known for their robustness and zest for living life to the fullest
With … liquor,butter chicken,Dal Makhani Makki roti and Sarsoon saag !
with… their foot tapping folk music …energetic Bhangra steps of the menfolk
and vivacious Gidha steps of the women folk.
Punjabi wedding is a panorama of colourful series of traditional events such as
2 Ardas
3. Chunni Charana (i.e. from the grooms side donning the bride with a colourful stole.
4. Shagun
6.Churra Charahana (red and white bangles slipped on the bride’s wrist by the maternal uncle)
9. Barat
10. Milni
!1. Jaimal
12.Marriage ceremony (Phere)
13. Doli
14. Pug phere
Wedding …a  time to re live all the customs and traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation.
Marriages are all about …. all the relatives getting together and spending joyful moments together …a family reunion a rendezvous  in time !..the household  agog with excitement and hustle bustle!...the house  lit up with colourful lights ,a tent is pitched ..The cooks are hired who excel in Punjabi cuisine and also delight the palates of all… dishing out Chinese,continental, Malaysian and what have you the haute cuisine… Punjabis are foodies and if the cooking is substandard it’ll be a intolerable blunder.and will leave a bad taste in the mouth for a long time to come…
Slowly the house starts growing  with guests Cousins, Grandparents, Aunts, uncles both from the maternal and paternal side All fill the household with with their laughter, chattering Hulla ballu ,friendly banter , complaints ,smart quips and wise cracks!There is a whirlwind of traditional activities that leaves no time for anyone to fret and fume feel bad or sad!It is such an interesting set up that to an onlooker it would seem as a movie set .The grand parents particularly feel so blessed to see fruits of their family tree and look on with pride and whimsically wish the moments to a standstill. It’s time for them to reminisce  and enthrall their progeny with their olden day tales.i.e about their marriage in the times and  year it was solemnized …how much a unit of Rupee  could fetch… etc..etc   

The size ,pomp and show of the festivities is directly proportional to the money  in one’s pockets . The customs are the same but the rich organize each event in the  plush 5 star splendor .Eyebrows are raised at the expenditure  on the events and  is branded as conspicuous consumption. In the city where there is a dearth of  time and space all traditional ceremonies are performed  within a couple of days . Today we have Event Managers who take a fat fee and do everything one can think of .  They would put a diehard traditional ceremonies to shame . They are such  good planners!
In small town and villages it almost takes 2 weeks or so and the ceremonies are followed as they have been handed down over the centuries. The middle class led by the Demonstration Effect spends much more than its means and ends up in debt!

It all begins with the Bichola the mediator a person who comes with a proposition of a girl/boy to the prospective boy/girl’s place. If found suitable then the horoscopes are matched by an astrologer who works out the configuration of stars of both parties` and  okays the match.
 Ours being a patriarchcal society the boy side goes over to the girl’s house to give their assent to the girl with sweets etc ,.and this is called Roka …meaning the search is over!

Ardas  A prayer is recited where they invoke the blessings of God on the prosperity of the couple, and no untoward accidents happent in the course of the festivities.
Then begins the Maiya phase for the girl where she is given a Spa like treatment  where she is given a mixture of turmeric,chandan oil paste to make her look radiant on her wedding day .The Haldi ceremony has all the relatives smearing the girl with the turmeric mixture.
Shagun :  The bride’s father takes a tray with cash,gold chain ,gold bangle(Karha) Tika ,watch ,dryfruits  to the boy and makes him eat a sweet  . Along with this he gives 21 or 51 or 101  boxes of  Indian sweets .Also they take along a fruit basket. This ceremony is done a day before the wedding .The invitation card is given to them. It is followed by an elaborate meal at their place.
In the evening ,the boy party comes over to the girl’s house and they take a red coloured ribbon(parandhi) , red colored Chunni(stole)Henna,Make up kit , and in a red  scarf dry fruits , coconut, rice etc are given to the girl. Ceremoniously the red chunni is draped on her head .On this day even rings are exchanged between the bride and groom . sometimes this is done on the day of the roka itself.
Mehandi:The hena that the mother-in-law brings on the shagun is mixed and applied on the bride’s hand. The henna appliers are called at-home and all the ladies of the house have their palms and feet decorated with floral patterns with hena. The bride has the pride of the place with the most deft hena applier making intricate paterns on her arms,hands,feet and legs ,in his elaborate handiwork he writes the spelling of the groom’s name which she will ask him to locate!.All this   amidst a lot of folk dance  and  folksongs . After a couple of  hours the hena is removed by rubbing in mustard oil.If the hena takes a dark hue on her palms it is believed that she will have a cordial relationship with her mother-in-law.

There is a bangle ceremony where a couple of bangles are slipped into the girl’s hands by her sisters,cousins and friends and relatives. On the day of the Churra  Charrahana ceremony  these bangles are removed and distributed amongst the girls of marrgiable age The mother’s brother i.e her uncle puts in the ivory bangles which have been soaked in milk to make them smooth and soft. These bangles are special to a Punjabi bride for they indicate that she is  a newly wed She proudly spots them never removing them for the period of time say 40 days or 3 months ,a year …In front of the(churra) bangles  a steel or a gold bangle is slipped in, on which the Kalera’s are tied by the ladies .On the day of Sangeet she puts her hands together and strikes them over the head of her unwed sister,cousin,friend and if a portion breaks and falls over the head then it signifies that her wedding is imminent.
On the eve of the wedding there is the traditional Jaggo (be awake!)ceremony It is literally to wake up the whole neighbourhood proclaiming amidst the beating of the Dhol(Punjabi drum)and a thick pole tied with bells tied on it dancing and singing in the street Jaggo(Awake )all of you …there is a wedding in the vicinity…A popular folk song “Jago aaiyan,lambrha joru jaga le ve jago aaiyan” village head wake up your wife we’ve come to tell you about the wedding! The night revelers carry a mud pitcher with a lamp lit by oil …whichever house they go they collect oil or money ,and invite them to  come and join the revelry.

Gharhaoli:The brother and siter-in-law take  a pitcher and fill water for bathing .After the Girl finishes her bath ,her Maternal uncle puts a Phulkari Bedsheet over her and brings her out of the bathroom ,known as Khare lana.In the groom’s place a similar practice is followed.

The girl gets ready to go to the beauty Parlour where she gets dolled up for the wedding.
 Meanwhile at the groom’s camp…his siter-in-laws put kohl in his eyes( to keep him away from evil eye) .The sehra is tied to cover his face in golden or silver streamers  He then mounts a horse along with a sarbala a boy who accompanies him and keeps him company .With a turban ,he looks very much like a man of strength and valor ,he comes on a horseback looking like a prince to seek his bride in marriage. It is his sister’s who help him mount the horse, and feed the horse with soaked gram lentil, making sure he has his bellyful . The Barat consisting of a Band along with singing and dancing friends and relatives dressed in their Sunday best gives a royal touch to the occasion.  
Another interesting feature is a sort of a dress code for the Baratis. Men  are all in the same coloued turban and the women are in the matching scarves …generally pink,red etc They can be spotted from a distance and  makes easy for the bride household to segregate and give them a V.I.P treatment .(Lack of which can lead to a lifetime animosity.)The one thing that the boy side demand is a V.I.P.treatment meted out to the Baratis.
Milni…Once the Barat reaches the bride’s place,her brother helps the groom to dismount. Where the relatives of the bride are waiting to welcome them. with a surfiet of garlands . The father of the girl facilitaes the groom’s father with a gift or cash or both and then they garland each other. The bride’s grandfather greets the groom’s grandfather,the maternal uncle of the bride greets the`maternal uncle and so on with gifts`and garlanding each other…..and then the womenfolk. greet each other similarly.

Jaimala: The name suggests a victory garland .In olden times the bride would garland the man who stood victorious in her eyes after a test or so. It was known as swayamber.i.e. choosing one’s own husband . The tradition has carried on ….as the Baratis (the groom’s party is referred to as baratis)come in, the bride is ushered in with her entourage of sisters cousin sisters and friends under a canopy of a phulkari  (Punjabi embroidry )sheet  held by her brothers and cousin brothers …with a befitting folk song for the occasion. She walks to the stage where the  groom is sitting waiting for her. Once there the garlands are given to each of them and they garland each other amidst a lot of cheering and clapping!

Marriage ceremony: Shubh Vivah :Anand Karaj ( work of bliss):The marriage ceremony is solemnized according to the vedic rites .In the marriage mandap the priest  is ready with  the fire .Amidst chanting of prayers the groom accepts the daughter from the father as kanyadaan (the giving away of the daughter)They go round the fire 4 times Fire is a witness to their being united as man and wife. . In the Punjabi Sikh wedding the couple goes round the holy book Guru Granth Saheb four times amidst singing of hymns called (Lawa Phere)The marriage is generally solemenised in a gurudwara  .The priest then brings a register where the bride and groom sign as a couple.
The girl  who sat on the right side before accepting him as her wedded husband extracts seven promises which is known as Satpadi …..1st…without her consent he will not perform Yajna i.e offering
2nd.without her consent he will not go on  a pilgrimage.3rd… will not spend wealth without her consent.4th.will not make any well or pond meaning thereby will not make any major changes in the premises.5th will not buy any animal.6th without her permission will not indulge in any  vile celebration and will never insult her in company of others.7th will not associate with any other woman.
She will be his equal .She will be his other half who will make him whole!
He in turn puts forth five conditions which should be acceptable to her 1st…she will consider him her God ?(pati parmeshwar)2nd She will not indulge in eating drinking and dressing up without his approval.3rd… will protect her character and honor of both the houses..4th will serve his parents and other members of his family 5th… will reside in his house and spend a life of purity and truth. The implication of these vows is that only when they respect each other will their family life will be fruitful and meaningful. And after they have accepted each others conditions the bride gets up and sits to the left of her husband.
Generally when the groom comes out of the wedding ceremony his shoes are taken away by the bridesmaids.which they return  to him at a price . He then gives rings (Kalichiris )
to the bridesmaids …
Doli: “Naazan de naal paal ke mapae …des nikalan devan aapae…” (Parents nurture their daughter with so much love and care..are themselves the one who banish her from their household….)The folk songs resonate with such soulful lyrics that hardly leaves an eye dry …each  married lady reminiscing about her Bidai(send off )by her parents ….each father of a daughter daunted by the prospect of  ultimately sending off his daughter to her groom’s place 
She is given uncooked rice on a platter which while stepping out of her house she throws backwards   signifying…. prosperity in her father’s house even when she’s gone!
A decorated car is waiting to whisk her off to her husbad’s place along with him. More often than not the car is a dowry gifted by her parents to the groom .Her brother accompanies her to her new home .The men folk of the girl’s side gently push the car as a send off while the groom’s party shower money mainly coins on the car . expressing their joy!
The family members of the groom are there to welcome the newly weds at his place. Before newly weds enter they pour oil on both sides of the  gate /door to ward off the evil eye. The Mother-in law brings in a glass of buttermilk which she rotates on the heads of the newly weds and then takes a sip . A rice  gram  lentil mixture is given to the bride implying that  she will mix with the new family in a similar way .Her brother is sent back with respect and honor. A child especially a boy is made to sit in her lap as a good omen to her having her first born as a male child! Several games are played in order to cut the ice and make her feel at-home. Mukh Vikhai :another custom where all the ladies of the neighborhood surround her  pick up her veil to see her and give her some cash or gift to welcome her to the new set up.
Pug Phere: The following day she along with her brand new husband goes to visit her parent’s. They treat them to an elaborate meal and give them   sweetmeats,cash,coconut ,etc tied in a bundle in a big red cloth. The implication of the tradition that from now onwards the girl is free to visit her parent’s informally.
The girl’s house slowly comes back to normalcy with most of the guests gone. They come to terms living without their beloved daughter yet secure in the thought  that they have fulfilled a duty of settling her in the protection  of a man  who will look after her in all times.  However the  thought of paying back loans they have assimilated for the great event  is a wet blanket …because money or no money  it’s time to spend money …that’s what marriages thrive on –and the innate human desire to show off  what in economic parlance is called the Demonstration Effect.
I hope you enjoyed the little insight I have given on the colourful Punjabi wedding!

Thursday 19 January 2012

Shabad Gurbani by Bhupinder Kaur Grover

Here are some Gurbani Shabad videos of Mrs Bhupinder Kaur Grover:

1. Meherwan Sahib Meherwan

2. Ko Banjaro Ram Ko

3. Kahe Re Ban Khojan

Tuesday 10 January 2012

In admiration of God's Intricate and exquisite carpets !

How I hate Air travel .The very prospect of being caged in metal and so many miles above the ground is un daunting .Perhaps I am too in love with myself . I have often chewed and digested on the thought that ‘your life matters little to anyone but yourself ’,yet it has not made any dent in my psyche…because still I get my panic attacks and other phobias.
When I told my father about my misgivings he simply said,’ enjoy your journey’. Just imagine yourself in an amusement park with all sorts of merry-go-rounds, Ferris wheels,  etc.
Armed with assurances of my family I made mental notes and decided to enjoy my trip…believe me I did.
Air bound in Air India on 10K window seat on the right side with a friendly red coloured fan outside my window .As I settled down in my seat I fished out the delicious Besan ki Roti my Mum had lovingly packed (she knows about my aversion to outside food- )and started eating to the roving eyes of the passengers,nodding my smiles to them.
Soon the plane started taxing I nearly chocked on my last morsel –the T.V. screen in front  of me was beaming the important safety instructions ….i.e. how to make use of several devices in case of emergency  (in my minds eye…flash of a crash  …falling helplessly with flailing arms and feet …added to this grotesque picture is the nightmare of being a sole survivor … Castaway made a sensational  impact)  in a monotone –soothing to the ears but very fast for a good comprehension …I assured my nerves ‘all is well’(well anywhere is safer than Delhi roads!)… looked out of the window to witness a fleet of  huge planes mainly Air Canada standing there a few were taxing further down and one took off  showcasing all its glory on the take-off !The wright brothers in their own way have revolutionized the world I say!So many thoughts were coursing through my mind …the plane gathered speed and I got a thrill as the aero plane lifted –why ? well I imagined myself on a giant Ferris wheel … I could see the 401 snaking its way  along  with  zillion cars I am sure was my  brother’s whom I waved …the 407,409  ..the Don Valley ,the Rouge valley…-the C.N.E. The wide expanse of the Ontario lake …Since it was cloudy we were surrounded by fog …the plane kept up its upward route and we were in clear blue skies with the sun shining and we were skimming over a fleece carpet absolutely pristine white . We seemed to be moving  through a myriad  patterns of  seemingly stationary  feathery clouds .Above I saw another plane zoom silently leaving behind a white trail. I marveled at the importance of the control tower and fervently thanked them for doing their job well. Inside ,suddenly the sign flashed to open up the seat belt while I was obediently fumbling with it the airhostess wheeled in the lunch cart  dishing  out meals  curtly questioning each of the passengers vegetarian ?...non- vegetarian?
I now planned to sleep ,in order to put out the noise of the droning I put on my earphones of the T.V screen and selected hindi music …For sometime the vibrant voice of Amin Sayani’s ‘Geetmala’ captivated me while I read the inflight magazine and copied copiously from an article on Santa Claus for the blog.
I chanced to look down from the window( I had elevated myself  sitting on my jackets and scarfs )and there were gaps in the fleece carpet showing me the mother earth with colourful patterns made of green brown and blue .The poet in me wanted to do poetry  had no time to scribble I just wanted to soak in the view and just did just that till the fleece carpet blanketed the view.
By 2.30 p.m. Toronto time …dusk came in  beaming it’s  vibrant colours  on the fleece carpet .It was akin to the coloured light displays that changes the milky Niagra falls  at night .The white fleece carpet underneath the plane was now pink,now orange,now orangish pink and then light grey and then granite –an ethereal beauty a must see when you are up there. One feels one has stepped into sheer splendid splendour of God’s Kingdom and it seemed  walt Disney’s ?Tinkerbell and company would spring forth from some cloud .    Since we were going East and the sun was  going west the night set in …soon it was dark  lit up with twinkling stars and the nearly full moon –I saw many a shooting stars !fervently wishing upon them –Hope and pray they come true !!!!!The scene outside seemed almost stationery only the fan outside seemed to be flashing it’s light and seemed to be moving.
Now I selected English movies and saw ,heard a couple of movies in a sort of a planetarium meaning thereby looking out and hearing the soundtrack of the movie.At about 8 p.m Toronto time the air hostess wheeled in the dinner cart –I took out my mummy’s yummy Roti’s and relished them with the tasty yogurt they had served .I decided to sleep as I had seen enough of carpets and canopies .Before settling my jacket on the little window sill to be a pillow …I slipped up the shutter to a breadth taking  view down below .There were no clouds whatsoever! There was this exquisite pattern of yellow light’s carpet on the earth .A kaleidoscope of a vast expanse of resplendent twinkling patterns .That was man’s creation of stars on earth. What a beautiful carpet !sleep just vanished .I felt right on top of the world!When  I had extended my ticket they said I had been upgraded to the Queen’s class . I didn’t see much difference between the economy and Queen then .I did feel like a  Queen slowly cruising between God’s starlit night and 3/4th moon overhead and Edison’s earth lit night below!Soon the apparition was a blur and I was staring into darkness so the movie took over my interest and soon again came across another intricately shimmering earth carpet.I could also see lights shimmering on the`water perhaps it was a port .Thus it went on as the rotating of a kaleidoscope new patterns of carpet’s underneath emerged much to my visual delight!I could not sleep a wink though I felt  a little tired the wonder and expectantly waiting to see a new shimmering intricate pattern was too much to give a miss by sleeping over it ! Suddenly God’s grey fleece carpet came in and obliterated the earth so I once again planned to sleep ….Not to be –for at the horizon (where the fleece carpet and the space met) I could see a faint light .I looked at my watch which still had Toronto time said  10p.m. Hues of dawn came into being as in the introduction of motion picture –it looked so unreal ! breathtaking ! so beautiful  …just the music of the orchestra was missing to show the onset of the radiant lights coming to fill the space . I could not see the orange orb of the sun but I could picture it vividly as the red fan to my window caught the glow and reflected the brand new orange colour and the tarmac carpet below caught the colour of orange and soon it took on the different rainbow colours and finally it settled to a white fleece carpet . The movie had almost come to an end and I pulled down the shutter and settled for sleep …I must have caught my forty winks I awoke to the sound of the clutter of the breakfast cart with the lizard eyed airhostess mechanically dolling out trays emotionlessly …Robots will be a better proposition I am sure ! 
I slid open my window and to my delight saw a large expanse of the earth far away I could see what I thought was white and black clouds deep down closer to the earth we were around 39,000 m above the ground ! When we came almost above them I recognized them as mountains .They seemed like clay models we as kids made for our geography project . one could see pencil drawings of rivers ,some gorges even from up there they looked menacing…In the gorges were pencil thin lines –perhaps a river I could not see the water . Further I came across a lake in which the reflection of a mountain was there!The mountain range was white like cement with black in between them to me it did not look like snow. The whole range looked very bright …I could feel the discomfort of the glare in my eye hence I relaxed.A steward came in with declaration form a signal that we were close to the destination . I asked him where were we ?Pakistan he said I gazed down at  my neighbour country all I could see was a photo like Mohonjodaro and Harrapa.  
After some time the pilot’s  voice filled the aircraft saying Delhi was  round the corner … would start descending …it was  a  comfortable gradual  descend down below I saw unclear air yes! Delhi had arrived with pollution ,smog and all …then I saw the shadow of our plane gliding over a patchwork carpet of an entire township …I could see high rise buildings ,small ones huddled together unplanned green patches,slum ,rail tracks …as we came nearer I could see trains moving ,Leo toy like cars  racing along side  the green and red buses of the D.T.C.(Delhi Transport Corporation)   could see the Metro shooting off some place. It was all so cute! I was transposed to my childhood days at Poona where my Dad would take us for long walks to Deccan  Gymkhana where there was this working model of the Railway set  complete with tracks,trains,signals station and what you will. Our eye candy which we never were tired of seeing .
Before long  I felt the wheels touch the runway  racing on the airstrip … back to the pavilion ,after a magical time spent air bound in the sheer splendor of experiencing a fourteen hour poetry in movement! What are journey!!!!!!!!!!!!!