One of the most discussed pre-wedding events, Sangeet, is a celebration of bringing together the two families in their children’s association. The ceremony gives respite from all the hectic seriousness of the wedding preparations. Women in the family meet several days before the wedding day with dolaks and spoons, surrounds the bride and sings traditional wedding song. Songs of songs range from the daily life of women to tease the bride about her upcoming wedding and her bridegroom. Some referred to the dreams and hopes of the bride, which differ from their family, while some tell of the pain parents go through while sending their daughter to her in-laws. The groom is called Banna in these songs, while the groom is known as Banni or Banno. Popular traditional songs include ‘Mehendini Mehendi’, ‘Lathe di Chadar’, ‘Laung Gawacha’ and ‘Kala Doriyaan’. There would also be dance where the women of the house dancers dance together with the bride who participates in the gusto. Earlier it used to last for a few days, but today it is mostly a day and sometimes a night.
Although the Sangeet ceremony is seen by most North Indian societies, it is the most popular among Punjabis and Gujaratis. The traditional Punjabi songtrack generally includes performances of Bhangra and song of Gidda songs. Gujarati Sangeet ceremony is often accompanied by performances of garba, the traditional dance Gujarat, involving women in colorful ghaghra cholis, clap their hands in line with the music and move in circles.
Them and now
Weddings in India have ceased to be this strict and sacred ceremony, which refers to the union of two souls, to pomp and show. As the glam quota of Indian weddings rose, the song-based ceremony developed into the focus of pre-wedding party. The days of singing simple traditional songs about Banna-Banni with dolaks, spoons and harmony are over. It’s not just a collection of women singing songs and boring the bride, but a carefully planned event that is a comprehensive and extravagant affair today. The participation is not only limited to the bride’s family and women. Today wedding planners, event management companies and choreographers are involved to provide a hassle-free experience. Sometimes there is a set theme for the event. It may be Casino Night, where the event includes card slot layout where you can play with fake chips. Another popular theme may be Disco, where guests have a set of dress code like 80’s disco icons. Or it may be an Indian princess theme, where the scene is set as a castle on Rajasthan.
The song is celebrated today by both the bride and groom’s family together in a common place. A large scene is set where the performance takes place. The choreographers teach cool dance steps to the entire relative bandwagon. The relative performs in pairs or in groups. In general, the bride and groom’s parents have a set. Usual sets of uncle and aunts from each side also prepare dance performances for popular Bollywood tunes. Sisters and brothers from either side will generally dance in groups or perform sketches. Even the bride and groom participate in the performance and dance to romantic numbers. DJs are employed to create an atmosphere where the guest can dance their hearts out. In over the top NRI or unruly businessman weddings, Bollywood celebrities are employed by event management companies to dance at the event. Some even rent famous musicians and singers to present beautiful melodic performances.
Heaven is the limit when it comes to planning a song. There are no fixed rules and you can pour out all your brides dream if you have a regulatory budget. The dress you choose for the song is one of the best in the trousseau, other only for wedding dresses. But unlike the wedding dress, one can experiment with more styles and designs. The bride may choose to wear a dress instead of a lehenga or saree, and although she has a tie, she can wear any color, cut or design. Designers like Rohit Bal, Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla, Anamika Khanna and Anita Dongre design some funky modern lehengas that allow you to glam the quotient up and allow you enough comfort, you can dance without worry. The groom and other gentlemen in the family can show off in Kurta pajamas or the latest designer choices of indo-western clothing like wearing dhoti pants with kurtas or donating a suave vest or nehru jacket over it.
Apart from song and dance, the song ceremony can involve interactive games like karaoke, or arrange an affordable event where they are praised for their performances. You can become creative with the cocktails and hire an executive bartender to entertain the guest with his pleasures. There may be competition between the bride and groom side at stake like a tugboat or Guess Who. One can even be innovative with the theme of the contemporary song ceremony, such as going with a Bollywood Night, Princess Dream and Magic theme or even the Harry Potter theme, Casino Night or Disco Night. Event management companies look after the whole event, from providing the perfect place to choose the choreographer and even arrange for celebs to participate in performances. They control every detail from food to song selection, from lighting to photography. All the bride and groom must make you show up and make the star in the party.
The song is traditionally a fixture in most northern Indian weddings. Recently, culture has begun to work in other cultures such as Bengal or Southern Indian weddings. It presents an exciting and fun concept for the two families to end marriage in order to loosen and know each other in a less formal setting. Plus it adds much fun and color to any marriage ceremony, across any culture. During the song, the family comes together to celebrate the action of two young hearts that come together. Relatives from the state and even out of the country gather and bring pieces of their newly adopted cultures. In ancient times the song used to serve as a respite from all the tensions and the severity of the wedding preparations. The women of the house will prepare the bride for her wifely duties through simple songs while conveying their love to her. Ceremonies like this show how much of a social significance and event a wedding holds in the lives of the Indians.