Over the years, over countless cups of tea, I have often pondered over the history of my father’s family who came to India from Pakistan. I have been curious about how much this has influenced mine and it was in November 2012, when I went to Bombay, sorry Mumbai, for my cousin Nanna’s[ii]daughter, Namrata’s wedding that I reflected upon their personal history, culture and more. There was a lot of dancing during the three-day festivities that I attended but, recovering from a sprained ankle of the left foot and a broken toe on my right foot, I was an observer, taking photographs instead. Actually, dancing is not my thing so I was quite happy clicking pictures of everyone else dressed in their finery, jiving to disco beats and peppy Hindi film songs.
There was a lot of preparation that went into the festivities for Namrata’s wedding. Nanna had even organised a professional choreographer to train her various cousins, siblings, nieces, nephews and children to dance to various Bollywood numbers for the Mehndi and Sangeet. As mother of the bride she did the honours with current hit song ‘Ooh La La La’, from Vidya Balan starrer ‘The Dirty Picture’, to loud hooting and cat calls from the rest of us. I recollect that when my cousins and sister married in the 1970’s, there was no such fanfare. Usually family members sang at weddings, led by some aunt or other. A dholki[xxiv] was the only prerequisite and everyone sang and danced as best they could. The standard Punjabi songs like ‘Kala doria or ‘Sooe vacheera’ were popular. These traditional Punjabi wedding songs playfully teased the bride and groom and various relatives were part of the cheda khani[xxv] too. Sangeets then were more intimate and informal. Things had changed a lot.