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24 June 2015

Wedding Songs - And Beyond

Courtesy: Wikipedia
We were watching a film on YouTube the other day (that’s a story for another post) when YouTube, as is its wont, threw up movies on the sidebar. One of them was Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, which a very close friend of ours described to me (I hadn’t watched it then) as a ‘three-hour-long wedding video’.  I must say that while I thought it saccharine sweet, it resonated with enough people that it was the biggest hit of that period. 

Our wedding, the Kerala ones, are were noted for their simplicity. The brides wore either the offwhite/gold-bordered Kasavu saris/mundus or regulation Kaancheevarams, and the grooms wore the traditional offwhite/gold dhotis and white shirts. Even with the traditional homam (a religious ritual), the whole thing took probably a couple of hours. My  whole wedding, including the feast afterwards, took perhaps two hours, the ceremony itself accounting for only 20 minutes. 

In any case, that was what I used to. The big, fat, Punjabi wedding that I participated in, when I had just entered my teens, was a revelation to me – being a child, I enjoyed every bit of the three-day spectacle. I loved the mehendi (Henna) ceremony and the sangeet (literally 'music' an evening that is filled with music prior to a wedding), and the baraat (the bridegroom's ceremonial procession) and even looked wide-eyed at everyone crying during the bidaai (bidding the bride farewell) even though we were the ‘groom’s side’. It all seemed so touching, so, so exotic! And of course I loved the beautiful ghagra-cholis, and the lovely dupattas, not to mention the gorgeous accessories – colourful glass bangles, delicate jewellery, strands of jasmine…

Spotting the HAHK link on the side brought back those memories. It also brought back memories of wedding songs in Hindi films. And since I hadn’t posted any of my themed lists for some time, I decided, why not? ‘Wedding’ songs are a dime-a-dozen in our films. Each event that leads up to the wedding seems to have a song of its own. I remember one of my professors, who used to also teach a course on Culture and Film at the University, telling me that some cultures even had songs for funerals. So instead of sticking to ‘wedding’ songs, I decided to weave a post incorporating the various elements that lead up to a wedding and its aftermath.

1. Maang mein bhar le rang sakhi ri 
Mujhe Jeene Do (1963)
Singer: Asha Bhosle, chorus
Music: Jaidev
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi 
I’m told that brides today spend a lot of time dreaming about their wedding day. Especially here in the US. It seems to bring about a lot of angst in its wake. I’m sure there were young women who did so in our time as well, only I didn’t personally know any. If at all we thought about it, it was a ‘oh, yes, we’ll get married in the future’ – that future being, well, in the future. We had too many things to interest us and keep us busy to worry about who was going to marry us, when. 

But Waheeda’s Chameli has an excuse. She is a tawaif (courtesan) who has never really been accorded a respectable status in society. Sure, men did appreciate her beauty and her art, but they visited, and then they left. She would never be invited to their homes, or be treated as a ‘good’ woman would. And women like her surely cannot imagine being married. So when Thakur Jarnail Singh (Sunil Dutt), a daku kidnaps her, she doesn’t think him any better than her other visitors, but there is a surprise in store for her – he wants to make her his bride. For the first time, Chameli allows herself to dream like any other woman. Of marrying someone, being his wife, perhaps the mother of his children…

2. Aaj unse pehli mulaqaat hogi
Paraya Dhan (1971)
Singer: Kishore Kumar
Music: RD Burman
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
It was only after I went to bed yesterday that I realised I had left out a very important part of our pre-wedding rituals that of 'seeing' the girl. And since most wedding rituals, and therefore much of this post, is focused on the girl, I thought I should add this song to this post.

Arranged marriages are still very much a part of our culture, but a lot has changed since the days when children were betrothed in their cradles. Then came a time when the parents fixed the marriage, and the bride and groom were lucky if they saw each other before their first night. Later came the process of 'bride-seeing', where the girl and boy got to have a peek at each other while the girl served tea. A little later, more progressive parents began to allow their children to meet and talk for a while in (relative) seclusion, while they watched benignly from afar. The girl and boy at least had a chance of talking a few words together before they were tied together in the inviolate bonds of marriage. 

Here, is a very unique portrayal of this ritual. Unique, because the young man is travelling alone to 'see' his prospective bride. Unique, also because, it is very rarely that we get to know what goes through a young man's mind as he goes to meet a strange girl who he may or may not like. I know we talk a lot about the girls' lack of choices. I wonder how much choice young men had those days either. Anand Bakshi's lyrics are simple but eloquent as the young man rides along, he muses about how it would be to meet this girl for the first time, to talk to her, and then...? He doesn't quite know. What if she has a friend to chaperone her? He also wonders how she must be feeling...

3. Cham cham cham cham chamke bindiya 
Do Dulhe (1955)
Singer: Geeta Dutt, chorus
Music: BS Kalla
Lyrics: Pandit Indra Chandra 
Traditionally, a sagaai (engagement) never seemed to need either the bride or the groom's presence. The bridegroom’s family would visit the bride’s family to offer the traditional shagoon – fruits, gifts for the bride’s family, and perhaps, a pair of bangles and to confirm that the wedding would take place. I haven’t seen an ‘engagement’ ceremony in real life where the bride and groom exchange rings, until recently. So it was rather surprising when I realised that this Geeta Dutt (and chorus) song that I’d heard and liked was for an on-screen sagaai ceremony, where both bride (Vanaja?) and groom (Sajjan) were present, even if they don’t exchange rings. This is a rather small song, sung more by the chorus than by Geeta Dutt, but it is quite a nice song, for all that.

4.  Chali pi ke nagar ab kaahe ka dar 
Mirza Ghalib (1954)
Singer: Shamshad Begam, chorus
Music: Ghulam Mohammad
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni 
The sangeet, much like the mehendi ceremony, was usually restricted to the women of the family, and the bride’s friends. It is held the evening before the wedding, and these are the last few hours that a young woman can openly laugh and dance, unencumbered by the responsibilities that entail being a married woman. For her friends, this is the last time they can tease her so openly, and so they usually do it with a vim and a verve. Here, we have a young dancer (Kumkum) teasing Chaudvin (Suraiya) about how she would soon rule her husband’s household, and how she would not have to fear either her mother-in-law or sister-in-law. Only, this young bride here loves the already-married poet Ghalib, and is not too happy at being married off to someone else, even when that someone is the city's kotwal, who has paid her poor mother a princely sum as meher (bride price).

5. Man bhaawan ke ghar jaaye gori 
Chori Chori (1956)
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle
Music: Shankar Jaikishen
Lyrics: Shailendra 
Come the morning of the wedding, and getting the bride ready for the ceremony has always been  a very special undertaking. Traditionalists still talk of solah shingar (16 ways of beautifying yourself), which is supposed to make any bride look beautiful. Long before professional beauticians came on the scene, this duty was meticulously undertaken by the bride’s more experienced friends and relatives. One expects brides to be a shade nervous, slightly anxious – after all, in a few hours, she is going to leave all that is familiar behind, and go away to a house where she knows no one well, not even her newly wedded husband. Here, unfortunately, the bride is not just anxious; she is miserable. But her friends still do their best to deck her up in her wedding finery, while the two performers (Sai and Subbulakshmi) (try to) keep her and the others entertained with their song and dance. 

6.  Mera yaar bana hai dulha 
Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: Ravi
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni 
It is interesting that many of the wedding celebration songs are women-oriented. The sangeet, the mehendi, the bidaai, are all focused on the bride. So it is nice to have a men-only celebration where the bridegroom’s friends meet to celebrate his coming nuptials. Of course, that is the perfect time for the bachelor friend of the groom to tell their other friends that while he is very happy their friend is getting married, and wishes him well, he hopes that the friends assembled there would pray that he, the singer, would have the good fortune to get married soon as well.  

7. Shivji byaahne chale  
Munimji  (1954)
Singer: Hemant Kumar, chorus
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Shailendra
Now is the time for the baraat to arrive. It is a moment of anxiety for the bride’s party – what if the groom’s party doesn’t arrive in time for the muhurat? But for the bridegroom’s party, it is a fun-filled journey; they are going to bring a bride home! So they proceed at snail’s pace, dancing their hearts out, musical instruments in hand, while the groom, waits impatiently on his mare as she prances along slowly in tune with the men and women who surround her. When the baraat finally reaches the bride’s home, there is a collective sigh of relief as they welcome the groom and his family.

I could have gone with one of the several baraat songs that I really like; this one is not even a ‘real’ baraat song in that it is a stage performance, not one of the characters in the movie going to his wedding. But it is such a beautiful song, and it so encapsulates the joy and celebration surrounding a baraat’s journey to the bride’s home that I had to include this. With Hemant Kumar singing what I consider one of his best songs for Dev Anand, and noted dancer/choreographer Sachin Shankar on dancing on stage with Ameeta, I really could not exclude this even though the song does not just end with the baraatis reaching the bride’s house. 

8. Kaahe sharmaaye gori 
Bandi (1957)
Singer: Asha Bhonsle
Music: Hemant Kumar
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan 
The baraat has come and the bride is all dressed up and ready to go to the mandap. Shyness overcomes her, mixed with nervousness – she is soon going to be wedded to a man whom she’s (possibly) never met before, and she senses, even if she doesn’t know, that her life is going to be changed overnight. Her friends conduct her to the mandap, while her doting brother looks on. They are teasing her about her shyness, because one day or the other, she would have to go to her husband's house. While Nanda is not the heroine of this film (Bina Rai is; Nanda is the heroes' sister), she looks really young and beautiful in this song. 
9. Chal ri sajni 
Bambai ka Babu 
Singer: Mukesh
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri 
The wedding is over. And now, it is time for the bidaai, the departure of the bride to her new husband's home.  While Babul ki duaaen leti jaa is the quintessential bidaai song, I like this one because, while the voice is male, it sings of all the emotions that a bride feels when she is bidding farewell to her childhood home forever – here, in this film, there is an added complication to the feelings of loss; the new bride is also bidding farewell to a man whom the world thinks is her brother, but is in reality, the brother’s killer. But he is also the man who loves her, and whom she loves, and the replacement son for her parents who have no way of knowing that he is not who he claims to be. As she leaves, she looks back one last time at him; he, knowing that he has willingly given her away to another man, watches sadly, silently.

The first time I watched a bidaai in real life is at the afore-mentioned wedding where I was the ‘groom’s party’. It was my friend’s brother’s wedding, and when the time for the bidaai rolled along, I was surprised to see everyone on the bride’s side crying – because no one did at our (Mallu) weddings! Then, my friend’s older cousin explained to me that the girl was now bidding farewell to her parents’ house for good, and making her way to her ‘new’ home. From now on, she would be considered a visitor; and frequent visits would be discouraged. l still remember my shock at hearing that – what? I couldn’t imagine not walking back into my parents’ house whenever I wanted to, married or not. Or I’m pretty sure I would be weeping buckets too.

10. Ghoonghat hatana dena goriye  
Sapan Suhane (1961)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar, chorus
Music: Salil Choudhary
Lyrics: Shailendra 
The wedding is over, so is the bidaai and the bride has been brought to her sasural (in-laws' house). Now it is time for the women in the bridegroom’s household to welcome the shy bride. Before the bride and groom are finally left alone to get to know each other, perhaps really see each other for the first time, the new bride is alone with her new relatives-by-marriage. The women tease her – don’t allow your husband to remove your veil; your beauty can put that of the moon to shame. The bride can only smile and hide her face in her veil in shy confusion. Picturised on Kamini Kadam (the bride) and Geeta Bali (the singer), the song ends with the bride being ceremoniously taken to the wedding chamber.

11. Chhupakar meri aankhon ko 
Bhabhi (1957)
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi
Music: Chitragupt
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen 
It is time for the suhaag raat (first night). Where are the shy brides of the earlier songs who had been exhorted to not remove their veils from their faces? This bride is not wearing a ghoonghat, and she is definitely not shy at all. On the contrary, hers is a ‘love marriage’ and she is so happy to be married to him that she bursts into song when he comes into the room.

He doesn’t seem too bothered by his bride’s lack of suitable shyness either; he is just happy to be married to her and this night is the beginning of their new life together. Of course, one always knows that in a film called Bhabhi, a song such as this would be followed by great misfortune. This is probably the last scene where this newly-wed couple smile and look so happily at each other. After which is a long series of unfortunate events that keep glycerine companies in business year after year after year.

Now for what happens afterwards:

Dhool ka Phool (1960)
Singers: Asha Bhosle, Mahendra Kapoor
Music: N Dutta
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
Now that the wedding is over, family and friends have all returned to their own homes, the newly-weds are left on their own. Before the new bride is given charge of all the responsibilities of her new home, the young couple are sent off on a honeymoon so they can get to know each other. These ten or 15 days are the only time they can be assured of being completely on their own, and so they take full advantage of it.

In this case, the ‘hero’ (Rajendra Kumar) has loved and left another woman (Mala Sinha) in dire straits before marrying the ‘more suitable’ woman (Nanda) whom his parents have picked for him. His lover is in dire straits, an unwed mother, but he has no qualms about walking away from her; his new wife has no clue that her husband has questionable ethics and, for the moment at least, is happy in her wedded bliss. 

Minister (1959)
Singers: Asha Bhosle, Mohammed Rafi
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen 
The honeymoon phase is over; miya-biwi begin to see each other as the proverbial ghar ki murgi, and so begin the squabbling. It begins over petty things, and if not fixed, soon become mountains. Someone rightly said that marriages seldom break up over huge issues; it is the petty ones that prove their undoing.

Here, the husband (Bhagwan), caught philandering by his long-suffering wife (TunTun) stigmatises her as a suspicious witch. Even as she excoriates him for cheating on her, he blames her for not understanding how difficult it is to keep a house running. Madan Mohan sets this trippy tune to Rajinder Krishen’s pithy lyrics.

14. O babusaab o memsaab 
Talaaq (1958)
Singers: Manna Dey, Asha Bhonsle
Music: C Ramchandra
Lyrics: Kavi Pradeep 
So where does it all end? Typically, it would be the wife sulking and the husband trying to woo her back into a good mood. But sometimes, they need to have someone else put some sense into their heads. Which is where marital counselling, the modern world’s panacea for all ills, comes in. Here, of course, it is not a real counsellor (who will charge $150 to listen to you and say ‘Hmm’ once in a while) but the couple’s friends/employees who do the needful. Since they cannot knock the feuding couple’s heads together, they do the next best thing – they sing a song that provides some much-needed life lessons to the warring duo.

C Ramchandra is well-known for his light, frothy numbers, but can you believe Kavi Pradeep, he of the patriotic numbers’ fame, writing something that is so light-hearted? While the warring couple are Rajendra Kumar and Kamini Kadam, I do wonder who the man is, who is lip syncing to the song. The woman, I think, is Yashodhara Katju.
Incidentally, there is another version of the same song where the shoe is on the other foot – the couple singing the song are feuding (and looking for every opportunity to run away from each other) while Rajendra Kumar and Kamini Kadam are trying to teach them the lesson to marital bliss.  

I haven't found any song celebrating divorce, so we will leave this post with the hope that the home-grown counselling worked its wonders.


  1. What a brilliant post, Anu - and I love the way you've taken the thread beyond, even to marital counselling (I'd never heard that song before; several other songs in your list are new to me too, so I'll have to listen to them sometime later). But may I say how happy I am to see Shivji bihaane chale in your list? I adore that song. There's something so overall fabulous about it - the music, the lyrics, Hemant's rendition, the dancing... perfect.

    Okay, let me add a couple of songs to the beginning of this process. A man vowing to never get married, in Kaagaz ke Phool:


    ...and a young woman wishing desperately that she gets married soon, in Paraya Dhan:


    Plus, among suhaag raat songs, here's one I like a lot, from Dharmputra:


    Will back off for now, though I do have a lot of other songs to post. ;-)

    Incidentally, Tarun and I did have a 'proper' engagement, rings exchanged and all. So did my sister and brother-in-law. Actually, it wasn't until I began paying attention to the finer details in old Hindi films that I realised that sort of engagement was rather rare!

  2. What an interesting post! Loved reading it, Anu. I havent heard so many songs in this list. Will log back in from home this evening and listen to them. Since I don't pay this much attention to details when I watch movies, this has really been very informative.

  3. Wonderful! I especially love the way you have started with the bride dreaming about her marriage and gone all the way to the squabbling couple! Trust you to come up with such unique ideas and then to do the research and find all the songs for such a post - my hats off to you!

    Some of the songs appear to be new, but I can't tell until I listen to them, but Shivji byaahne chale... is one of my favorites, as well as Chal ri sajni ... from Bambai ka babu.

    There is one other suhaag raat song that I can remember - from Aashiq (an eminently forgettable film, as far as I can remember, even if it stars Raj Kapoor and Padmini!)


  4. Thank you, Madhu. It is interesting that you had a proper engagement - was that some time before your wedding? Even with the few 'engagements' that I have seen that had a ring, it was only the man who put a ring on the woman's finger. The reverse didn't happen - and in any case, even these were very recent - the last ten years or so.

    'Yes' to Shivji byaahne chale - I love the song, the singing, the choreography, the music - everything. It was done beautifully. I have the Dharmputra song in my list of suhaag raat songs. :) And I dithered between that and Chhupake meri aankhon ko and then went for the latter.

    It is funny you should add the Paraya Dhan song, because I went to bed yesterday and remembered another song from the film that I should have put in - so I added it to the post today. :)

    Love Hum tum jise kehte hai shaadi - perfect Johnny Walker song, no? :) Thanks for the additions, and please come back and add some more!

  5. Thank you, Harini. I had fun writing it.

  6. Thank you, Lalitha. I'm glad you enjoyed the post; I had fun writing it. I had the song from Aashiq on my shortlist, but thought it was hardly the suhaag raat song I would want to hear when I'd just got married. :)

  7. Yes, Anu - Tarun and I got engaged four months before we got married. You're right, though, about only the man putting a ring on the woman's finger. Tarun got his ring only when we got married. And my wedding ring still sits next to my engagement ring on my finger!

    "and please come back and add some more!" This is what I call pair pe kulhaadi maarna! You asked for it, so here goes (some of these were on my list of wedding songs).

    Churi dheere pehna from Dahej, which is from the sangeet:


    And another lovely sangeet song, Jogi hum toh lut gaye tere pyaar mein, from Shaheed:


    And, from Shagun, a song from just before the bride steps into the mandap, Gori sasuraal chali:


  8. Anu,
    This is an interesting. In your list I like #3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 a lot. Some of the songs would not fall under conventional 'wedding' songs. I would like to add one of my great favourites from Parineeta:

    Gore gore hathon mein mehdi racha ke by Asha Bhosle (it has a Geeta Dutt cover version too).

    Madhu has already added another of my favourite songs: Dekho dekhoji gori sasural chali.

    A general comment. I am surprised by your surprise at crying at the vidaai. Having been a witness to several vidais in family and outside, trust me, something happens when eyes become moist uncontrollably. Many of us would be embarrassed to be seen crying, but we can't help it. It was news to me and I am quite puzzled that down South it does not happen. I make fun of most cryings in film, but I can tell you the crying at vidai is not funny.


  9. Anu,

    With all your songs you have a script ready for Barjatiyas. Once again I beg to differ with AK, crying at vidai seems funny, I must confess I had cried at my Vidai and had laughed about it later.

    AK has added Parineeta song that I would endorse too. I will add the 2005 Parineeta song ( I know it is much beyond you time line, I like this album a lot and I feel this wedding song is one the best wedding songs.


  10. There is a reason why the man doesn't get a ring at engagement time - the ring is given when the man proposes to the woman. Since the woman doesn't propose, the man doesn't get a ring! In any case, why waste money on jewelry for a man, right? This is just my take on the matter, I have no idea what the real reason is.

  11. That is interesting, Madhu. And actually you are the best person to answer this - is this a Christian/Punjabi thing? Now, of course, everyone seems to have an engagement ceremony, and exchange rings, etc. But back then, the only one I know, from my friends, who had an engagement ceremony, is a Punjabi.

    I didn't remember either of the first two songs you posted, Madhu. Thanks for reminding me of them. The Shagoon song was on my shortlist, but I wasn't sure just what it was. I'm glad you linked it here.

  12. Our men don't (or didn't) 'propose', no? Poor saps just get told which girl they are going to marry. :)

    And what happens when it is the woman who proposes? (Enquires interestedly.*grin*)

  13. Some of the songs would not fall under conventional 'wedding' songs.

    :) That is why I said 'Wedding songs - and beyond'. Perhaps I should have said, 'Wedding songs - before, during and after'. *grin*

    AK, I'm sure it means a lot to the communities that have that ceremony, especially because the girl is now going to 'her' house. I'm not making fun of the crying at the bidaai whether in real life, or in films. I was just puzzled then. And ever since my friend's cousin explained, I can understand how touching it can be.

    And no, in the South (well, at least in Kerala), we are usually happily waving goodbye to the bride, who is equally happily waving back at us. But then, for us, we have just acquired a new family and a new house; we never severe ties with our old one. Even today, when we go to India, I say, 'I'm going home' when I mean my parents' home. That will always be 'home' just as much as our home here in the US, or my husband's house in India.

  14. Ashraf, since it was a Barjatya film that sparked this post, that is good, no? :)

    About the bidaai - my friend (the one whose brother's wedding I'd attended) had told me before her wedding that she was only going to cry at her bidaai because it was expected of her. And when the bidaai rolled around, she did burst into tears. Afterwards, she confessed to me that her tears had been real - she hadn't realised how painful it would actually be to severe those ties, even if only symbolically. I've always remembered that.

    I love the songs of Parineeta (except the one where Sonu Nigam thought he had to fill with angst. Lovely song, but oh, I wanted to kill him!) - this one, I thought, fit more into the UP sangeet songs than for a Bengali wedding, no? (My friends from UP would say that their wedding songs are very earthy, very graphic.)

  15. Anu,
    As I said I cried at my vidai, at that time you do feel that your severing those ties which is not true, when you think about it does seem funny. I felt it funny and hence I always laugh about it.

  16. :) I understand what you mean.

  17. I have no idea whether it's a Punjabi thing or not, but Christian it definitely is. It may be that both my sister (who's married to a Bengali) and I expected a 'proper' engagement, and the men we married were so like us (or didn't want to disappoint us?!), they agreed. Though, you may be right about the Punjabi thing too: Tarun's sister, who got married just two weeks before us and had been engaged a week before us (and whose husband is also a Punjabi) had the same sort of engagement too.

    It's called a 'ring ceremony' in North India, I believe. There's also another thing called the roka (literally, rok lena), which is like earmarking someone. That, as far as I know, is the custom of giving shagun for the bride-to-be, though not a ring.

  18. Shalini Razdan27 June 2015 at 16:16

    Wonderful post, Anu! What I love about India is that every community (or even sub-community) has it own wedding traditions. It's a pity that weddings in Hindi films don't usually go beyond depictions of Punjabi or UP weddings customs. Kashmiri Pandit weddings are long drawn-out affairs that span 8-10 days and involve multiple milestones, events and outfit changes. My poor non-Kashmiri husband was aghast when I told him the wedding ceremony would take 4 hours - till I told him that that was the abridged version and regular KP ceremonies take 9-10 hours.:-) To this day he complains about being kept hungry on his wedding day since we both were fasting and couldn't eat until the ceremony was over. :-D

    I've never seen a Kashmiri Pandit wedding in a Hindi film so can't post a relevant song, but here's a Rajashtahi wedding song from Do Boond Pani:


  19. You and your sister expected a 'proper' engagement? :) Why? (Just curious, I promise.) I mean, it is not a common enough thing, or at least it wasn't, at one time.

    And it is very interesting that the 'ring ceremony' (yes, I've heard of that, from my Punjabi friend) is only meant for the girl. The guy puts the ring on the girl's finger, and then assembled family are busy feeding everyone sweets, and then they all return to their respective houses. (That is how my friend described it to me. *grin*)

    The shagun is what I'm more familiar with - once the marriage has been fixed by the elders, the groom's family sending gifts for their new daughter-in-law-to-be, and her family.

    So much fun, no, the different ceremonies?

  20. Thank you, Shalini. I too love the different traditions that different cultures/sub-cultures in India have; they are all so beautiful, and most of them have underlying meanings that now appear to be lost in the mists of time. You are so right about Hindi films sticking to the Punjabi/UP traditions - what bothers me about that homogenisation is also that traditional customs and traditions are going amiss in the rising trend to ape what is seen in the movies. What will happen then is that we lose the uniqueness that each set of customs and traditions have. :(

    Thank you for this song - I haven't watched Do Boond Pani, so I hadn't heard this song before. The only ones I know from it are Peetal ki mori ghagri and Apne watan mein aaj do boond pani nahin...

    I can imagine your husband's state - four hours must have been 3.5 hours too much for him. :) :)

  21. "You and your sister expected a 'proper' engagement? :) Why? (Just curious, I promise.) "

    I don't know, really. Probably because it's so common in our family? I remember all our older cousins (my father's the youngest of six, so barring one, all our cousins on my father's side of the family are older than us) getting engaged that way. Ring and all. Party. Family. So we couldn't imagine not getting engaged.

    And your friend described that perfectly! :-)

  22. Subodh Agrawal28 June 2015 at 21:15

    Beautiful post Anu. I like the way you extended the theme beyond the wedding ceremony itself. Your closing paragraph brought to mind a Hindi poem that has been circulating on WhatsApp about an aged couple whose marriage has survived all ups and downs. I think it is worth giving a link here: http://nshah.co.in/?p=990

  23. I landed upon this Cobra Girl (1963) song by a chance:

    Babul Ki Ladli Bhiya Ki Pyar- Suman Kalyanpur – S N Tripatrhi –

    The Happy song is a very traditional situation, which would end up in a Bidaai in a Palki https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZUPydcKuMA

    But the the this Bidai on an 'arthi' also used to be most painful part a 'babul' was expected to play in not so distant part of our times -


  24. Here is one of my favourite wedding songs, although it is a doll's wedding.


  25. Cobra Girl? :) The films I seem to have missed, though looking at Mahipal, I appear not to have missed much. I certainly haven't heard any song from it either.

    Thank you for the link, Ashokji.

  26. Parineeta, right? It is such a beautiful song. Thanks, Shilpi.

  27. Wonderful idea for the post Anu, I liked the theme of wedding songs and beyond. We just came back from attending a couple of wedding celebrations and here is your post continuing our enjoyment. It was interesting to read about your wedding ritual, how short it was and no tears at bidai. From the comments, it seems that punjabi weddings have become a big affair, true. Yes, we had several ceremonies but they were never this big as they are now. We did have sagai ( also called mangani or kudmai ) but it was a small family affair just exchanging some mithai and token money to confirm the yes from both sides. I never had any formal sagai or ring ceremony. Sangeet was also a family and friends, neighbors affair at the bride's home, almost every evening for a week or so as the out of town guests arrived to spend time with the family. A Dholak would be omnipresent and played by whoever could and wedding songs sung by family and friends. It was a lot of fun meeting your cousins, uncles, aunts. Getting to know your elders that you met once in a while. All that has become formal hotel affairs :(.

    I was so glad to see one of my favourite songs starting your list. Nice to see the Shivji song make the list. Absolutely love everything about it. I did get to hear one new song, Geeta Dutt's Cham Cham Cham Cham. I do like most of the songs you have posted. May I add a few ? Here are two renditions of the traditional "lakshmi babul more". The first is from Suhag raat, a very young Geeta Bali. The love between father and daughter is so apparent. Second is same from Umrao jaan, different situation. Incidentally, a lot of punjabi rituals of west Punjab ( now pakistan) are very similar to Muslim weddings. A lot of borrowing from each other's culture.

  28. I wanted to post a Sikh wedding scene but could not find a separate video. This is from the movie "Nanak naam jahaj hai". The wedding starts at 5:25 and is over by 6:22.

  29. Just remembered an old Tamil song - not a wedding song, but what happens much after the honeymoon phase, and the squabbles are in full flow. The squabble is about what the neighbour's husband does... Cute song - Aduthathu Ambujathu Paathela...


  30. Thank you, Neeru, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Your recollections of your wedding are what I remember from my friend's wedding as well. I think today, Hindi films have a great role to play in the aspirations of brides to have a ceremony that most closely matches what they see on screen. As you said, the homely atmosphere of the ceremonies (and its significance, I daresay) go right out of the window when you have a DJ in a hotel hall, as opposed to family elders singing familiar folk songs on a dholak while the younglings have a blast.

    Loved your additions to the list - how could I have forgotten Main toh bhool chali babul ka desh? I'd Chhod babul ka ghar on my shortlist, but it was such a weepy one that I decided to leave it out. :) Besides, truth to tell, I wanted to add a song that is not as well-known, hence the short one from Mirza Ghalib.

    I agree with you about the cross-borrowing of cultures. It is interesting to see them juxtaposed to each other. Thank you for the links.

  31. I must have seen one Punjabi movie in all my movie-watching days, Neeru. Thanks for this addition.

  32. My god! A very, very young Sowcar Janaki! :) What a fabulous actress she was. Am I the only one who thinks she resembles Manorama (the Tamil actress) a little bit?

  33. One of my favorite suhag raat songs (from a Tamil movie, Vietnam Veedu) has Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini running around the bed:


    I am planning to check and see if the song in Michael Madana Kama Rajan song, Sundari neeyum ... , is also a suhag raat song. If it is, I will add it here, that too is an interesting song.

  34. I know, she is so very young. And yes, she does resemble Manorama a bit.

  35. That is Padmini?! She looks so much like a young Sukumari (of course, there will always be a family resemblance - they are cousins). What a funny sequence - I haven't watched Vietnam Veedu so I don't know how the movie is, but the song is lovely!

  36. She had such a flair for comedy, didn't she? So did Manorama. I last remember seeing her (SJ) in Hey Ram! And Manorama was a hoot in both Michael Madana Kamarajan and Apoorva Sahordargal. I still laugh over the
    Ayyayyo ayyo, ayyayyo ayyo sequence in the latter.

  37. There is an interesting set of writings by Irna Qureshi on Bardford, Bollywood, Pakistan and her description of her wedding here


    as other topics on her blog remind us of the similarity between the Hindu and Muslim cultures in Punjab. Makes very interesting reading.

    Another article by her on Bollywood in the Guardian.


  38. Even though I don't understand the language, I watched the song above

  39. Here is another situation in the newly weds life, the bride goes home for the first time after marriage and the friends want to hear all about her first night

  40. Interesting read, I read part of it, will read the rest tonight. Thanks for the link. At the wedding we attended recently , the pandit jee mentioned that this business of saat phere is all film world created. In reality, there are only 4 phere and saptpadi which of course are seven. I have to read up on that if it is true. I don't remember how many I took :). Another thought on mehndi, we did not have the intricate mehndi ritual as it is now with designs oh hands. Our hathelis were just covered with mehndi the night before and the imprint was put on the wall of our family room. ( actually wall covered with white paper, which my mom saved ). I guess it was for remembrance. My nanad did the same, but a few years down the road it all changed to intricate mehndi work....

  41. We have only four pheras. And it is interesting that you should say that about the mehendi; when my friend's brother got married, the 'mehendi ceremony for all the women in the household took the form of someone bringing in fresh mehendi leaves and one of the women grinding it right there, and then applying it to everyone's hands - it wasn't the intricate designs that you see now, either.

    And when the bride was brought home, just before she entered her husband's home, she placed her hands flat in a thali of haldi (that too freshly ground) and choona and then placed the imprints of her palms on the outside wall. (The haldi-choona water is almost red in colour.)

    I love the different customs! :)

  42. Shalini Razdan2 July 2015 at 15:18

    There are only four pheras in Kashmiri weddings too...and they're taken with the bride and groom walking side by side holding hands, not with one or the other leading. And the pheras are taken sometime in the middle of the ceremony and not what what confers the "married" status on the couple. I have an abiding dislike for "sindoor" so it was lucky for me that there is no sindoor tradition in Kashmir (or mangalsutra for that matter).

    Mehendi raat is a big thing in Kashmiri weddings for both the bride and the groom. My brother didn't get fancy designs (actually nor did I) but he had to have mehendi put on his hands and feet just as I did. In Kashmiri tradition, the bua of the bride/groom is the one who has the right and responsibility for providing mehendi to everyone. Everyone who receives mehendi from her has to pay her a fee. :-)

  43. Side by side ! I like that. We called the pheras "lavan phere". I will have to find the meaning of lavan. No one used sindoor in our family except my mom, May I ask why the dislike for sindoor ? My brother too had his palms covered with mehndi and imprinted on the wall. Chopra ceremony was important, Mamas of the bride gave the chopra ( red and white ivory bangles ) then kaliras tied to them by family members ( they are silver or gold dangling things. I saw this video recently (Karishma Kapoor's wedding ) the chopra is at 2:41

  44. It is very interesting that you walk side by side. How nice! I know in our pheras, the bride goes first a couple of times. I'm trying to remember if the groom goes first twice too, or whether he leads three times... So, in a nutshell, I don't know whether we have 4 pheras or 5. Neither does my husband remember.

    Like yours, our pheras have nothing to do with conferring a 'married' status on us. Neither do we have the sindoor (though it's been co-opted by people who borrowed it from KJo/Barjatya/Chopra clans. We do have a mangalsutra though, and to us, that is more important than the wedding ring.

    Typically, our mehendi for the bride consisted of a large dot in the middle of the palm, and four dots around it. I do like the intricate designs, though. I got it done for my nephew's wedding. :)

  45. That was nice to see - her parents tying the Kaliras onto the bangles. I've seen them before (at the wedding I talked about earlier), but I didn't know what they were called. Thanks for letting me know.

  46. That is interesting... but the bride looks totally upset, no? (Well, I can't say I would much like to sit around while my friends decide to tease me about what went on during my wedding night either! :)

  47. Ipad changed the choora word to chopra. I did fix it, hope it stays. BTW, we don't have mangalsutra either,

  48. She looks upset because she was not very happy with her husband and in-laws. Saw the movie many moons ago. A bit depressing but a nice movie. I like the music. There is another song where her friends are singing about being grown up and soon wil be married !
    Chada chada

  49. Our mehendi was like this: one large dot in the middle of the palm, small dots around it, and each finger had its little cap. How I used to envy the brides I saw in movies, with elaborate designs on their palms!

  50. I forgot to add one more thing: the nose itch that invariably started once all the fingers got their caps! My mother and aunt used to get tired of scratching our noses for us!

  51. Ah, yes, I forgot the little caps! :) Yes, that is exactly how they were - I didn't do that for my wedding, but at that time, the intricate designs weren't that common in my hometown either. :( So I indulge for others' weddings. :) :)

  52. Thank heavens you clarified that. :) I wasn't sure what 'Chopra' meant - I had never heard of that before. Yeah, now even we have engagement rings, and brides not only want proper engagements, they also want to be proposed to, romantically, and nothing less than a diamond ring will do.

  53. Oohhhh, yes! That happens even with the intricate designs bit. At my nephew's wedding, we had our husbands feeding us, and then S got irritated because he had to keep scratching my nose, my arm, my back...

  54. Shalini Razdan3 July 2015 at 12:44

    Thanks for the video, Neeru. I really do love Indian wedding traditions...the jewelry and outfits alone are to die for!:-)

    As for sindoor, my dislike is partially aesthetic - the blood red powder in the hair just looks tacky and messy to me, and partially philosophical - the sindoor seems uncomfortably close to "branding" to me.

    The symbol of marriage for KP women is the "dejhor" - earrings comprised of a long gold chain with a gold pendant-like thing dangling at the bottom. (https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/2f/bc/77/2fbc779cccc75ac96e893e6aa60f6ff0.jpg ) The pendant is provided by the parents of the bride a day or so before the wedding in a ceremony called "devgon" and the red thread replaced by a gold chain (called the "ath") given to her by her parents-in-law when she goes to her sasural for the first time after the wedding. Interestingly, the groom/husband has no part in the bestowal of the dejhor and a Kashmiri woman never takes it off, even if she is widowed.

  55. Very informative about the Kashmiri traditions. Thanks Shalini. I can relate to the "branding". I did not like the idea of girls being marked as married and not men. ( they become from Miss to Mrs. Etc ). My mother' family is from Srinagar ( not kasmiris ). My Naniji had some traditional earrings with chains that she wore occasionally to wddings. They looked so beautiful.

  56. Shalini, what a pretty ornament! (I love earrings!) But where is the dejhor worn? Or rather, how is it worn? In the picture you posted, the bride is wearing another earring in her lobes. Is the dejhor worn over the ears?

  57. BTW, Shalini, I really thought that was your wedding picture. I just saw the picture, it would not open on the ipad, so checked on PC. The ornaments are so beautiful. I once had a calendar of indian brides published by Air India. It was fascinating to see different bridal wear and ornaments from other parts of the country. Do you wear the gold color clothes or is it just in the snapshot, the lady is wearing gold ?

  58. For a moment, I thought it was Shalini in the photo as well. :)

  59. Thanks for your review of this movie! As a result, I watched it last night, and the plot holes really got to me. I never understood the purpose behind the sinister servant, Lakshman, who he was waving the lantern to, and who was replying to him? Maybe I missed the part where the answers were provided, but then the significance of the shoes also escaped me. Did the person keep the same shoes all these years? Was this the only pair he owned, in which case, it should have been subjected to so much wear and tear in twenty years that there is no way it could still be retaining that pristine look. Really, I should not watch such movies because the questions keep plaguing me later. This is why I prefer to watch the songs and not pay attention to the story line. But the songs were wonderful, even if I wondered why Waheeda would sing a song to lure Biswajeet to the marshes, if she wanted to keep him safe? Questions, questions, questions! But yes, Waheeda was delightful, even if her initial nakhras and so-called display of innocence sometimes reminded me of someone who annoyed me a lot - Nimmi. And Biswajeet looked better in this than in his later movies.

    This movie was the big hit in '62, and I remember how I used to wait for the song Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil ... in Binaca Geet Mala. I think Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam was also released around the same time, and so was Aarti, so BGM used to be full of such melodious songs. Now there is no BGM, no melodious songs, and in any case, the present movies are nowhere near those old movies, even if they were chock full of plot holes!

    By the way, I saw Papanasam recently. Excellent movie, even if it is almost a faithful scene by scene reproduction of Drishyam, which I had watched, in part, earlier. Do watch it and give us a review of Drishyam, if you get a chance. I would love to read your take on it. I thought it was a well done plot, with no plot holes that I could spot, and that is rare!

  60. :) The servant is waving the lantern to his son or his wife's brother (I've forgotten who he is, exactly). And Waheeda's character, after first obeying her uncle, begins to lure Biswajeet to the safer part of the marshes once she falls in love with him. I honestly don't know about the shoes - perhaps he kept buying similar shoes? (But solving two out of three mysteries for you is a good record, I think. *Grin*)

    I want to watch both Papanasam and Drishyam! Unfortunately, neither released here! :(


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