Wedding Season is officially over! This year alone has been crazy, wedding-wise. Since January I have been invited to 6 weddings taking place this year, and it’s only August! The majority of these are Punjabi weddings, which typically results in me taking around 3-4 days of annual leave per wedding, which often causes eyebrow raises and questioning glances from friends and co-workers alike. I get it, a 3-day wedding isn’t something experienced by everyone…
Indian culture is big on celebration, and to help the non-Indians in my life, I have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions surrounding wedding culture, specifically Punjabi Sikh weddings. Friends and colleagues, this one is for you!
How do you know so many people?
My parents and grandparents know a lot of people and most of the people I know are related in some way or another. Punjabi villages historically were big on community, and when we came to the UK, we kept up that community spirit, even whilst assimilating and integrating into British society. Now that we’ve spread beyond Smethwick, Birmingham, we have smaller communities, but whenever there’s a wedding, the whole village still gets an invite! Plus, with our parents being so close with their cousins, we end up getting to know not only their siblings’ children, but also their cousins’ kids, all of whom become our cousins. It’s a big tree so please don’t ask me to draw it…
How can you possibly have another wedding?
I know a lot of people! Or rather my parents do, and their parents do, and since I still live with them, I’m invited to all the same things they are! It also happens that everyone in my life is of a varying age, so there’s always at least one person who is ready to get married. Case in point, the age ranges of my immediate cousins are from 42 to 16 – we’re only halfway through getting everyone married off!
Why is it so long?
In a nutshell, because we have a TON of pre-wedding rituals and ceremonies to perform. There’s the maiyan, the ladies’ sangeet, the mendhi day, the maiyan again, the jaggo party and then finally finallly the wedding ceremony (which is also preceded by a few ceremonies) and reception*. But even over the weeks running up to the wedding we might have some religious ceremonies, so that really spreads out the whole wedding celebration. Of course, this all varies depending on how traditional a family is, but the generally agreed wedding length is about 3 days of solid events.
So… Was it, arranged?
This could go either way, but generally, no. Arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, especially as more and more people of Indian heritage are being born outside of India. Having grown up and been educated in the Western world, many young British Asians are forming relationships themselves, unlike our parents. And while arranged marriages aren’t around so much, there is a rise in the Introduction. These are often marketed as ‘no-strings’, where two people are introduced by their families/matchmakers and get to know each other before committing to a life together. These are usually seen to be pretty successful marriages, as they also marry tradition with modernity.
What’s with all the outfits?
It’s a multi-day event! And some days might have 2 ceremonies, calling for one morning and one evening outfit per day. If you don’t use them all, at least you’ll have a spare! Of course, I’d re-wear the suits I own, but I wouldn’t re-wear within the same event; dry-cleaning suits takes time! And there’s also all the jewellery… Don’t even get me started on that!
If you have any other questions that people have asked you, or that you would like to ask, drop it in the comments and I’ll do my best!
*I’ll go through these ceremonies in a separate post. Stay tuned!