Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A Punjabi Wedding

A phone call from a cousin who I had last seen on my wedding day (almost twenty years ago) inviting me to her son's wedding compelled me to pack my bags and board the flight to Delhi.

What was so compelling about the call? I am still trying to figure it out.

Was my decision to go based on the superficial enjoyment of food, clothes, music and general dhamaal (chaos = fun in Punjabi weddings) or was I looking for something else? And did I find it?

All those years of not being in touch with the family melted into tears of joy when I saw my cousin. We hugged and cried and our hearts played our shared memories like a flashback scene from a 1970s Indian film. No words were needed and none were exchanged. Just the warmth of hugs and the love in moist eyes was enough.

I was home.

Home? Where is it? What do economic nomads like us call home? And should it even matter? Do my friends and family who have stayed on in India feel that they are home?

Does home come with you wherever you go  or do you go home when you have completed your parental duties of settling the children and then make your way back to the motherland?

Does home live within you or do you live inside a home?

As I stood there, surrounded by my ageing cousins and their 'adult' children, my childhood memories became my 'home'- a place where I could go back to and take a refreshing dip into a time when how I looked, what I wore, how I spoke or what I said  did not define me. I was me and that was enough.

That is where I wanted to  travel to when I decided to go for my nephew's wedding who I had not seen in more than twenty years.

Did I find it? Yes and no- but more about that later (I don't want to bore you with my thoughts just yet. I will do so via another post:) maybe!)

Let me share a snapshot of the wedding as I saw it, there are many 'Hindi/Punjabi' words in the lines I penned down.

For my non- 'Hindi/Punjabi' friends, I can offer a translation but it'll be like drinking masala chai without the sugar... it's not the same.

Here goes...

Tears of joy, peals of laughter
awkward silences and chitter-chatter

Bhangra, Bollywood  and the DJ
Thumkas and jhumkas on display

Belles in parandis
Handsome dandies

Jalebi, rabadi and Dal ka halwa
Sizzling bhindi on the tawa

The beat of the drum
Beer, Whiskey and Rum

Bahri Bursi and lots of Haldi
Chachas, Bhuas, Maamis and Masi.

Midrifs and cholis, hairdos and stilettos
Silver and gold and magenta, too

Garam garam pakoras with hot steaming chai
Safety pins and sarees, suit and tie

Band, Baaja and Baraat..too loud to talk
High heels that are too painful to walk

But all is forgotten when the dhol beats are rung
the booty is shaken and the arms are flung

I miss the dholak with the spoon
I miss the home spun fun
It's all very organised and performance based
I miss the chaos
It's all very 'wedding planner-like' these days.
Times are changing and
I am growing nostalgic
for the simple way of life
that was pure magic

I ask myself
what do I miss the most
Is it my lost innocence
something else
that I can't put my finger on?

I said my goodbyes with exhausted eyes
What a journey this wedding was
I travelled back in time
and time reminded me
that it always moves


Here are a few shots...

This Ganapati was created by a twelve year old (Laxmi) who sometimes helps her mom with household chores at my cousin's place.
So while she was waiting in the kitchen, she started sculpting him out of dough!
Sadly, we later ate yummy paranaths made with the same dough.

Laxmi's Ganapati lasted just long enough for me to take a photo.
I feel lucky. Isn't she talented?

My didi's gorgeous saree

Nothing like pakora and chai to re-energise tired Punjabis.

The lights...

the drums...

And the 'Dulha' (the bridegroom)
I couldn't resist 'sepia-ising' this photo... call me a sucker for all things old...if you will.

I flew back 'home' the very next day but I am sure I'll be mulling over my memories of this wedding for a long time.

Cousins have always been a very important part of my life and their love has stood by me whenever I needed help or support. I feel blessed to have you all in my life and I hope we can have many more such reasons to exchange hugs and reminisce.