Tag Archives: wedding games

Two Families, Both Alike in Dignity…

The Interviewer will be referred to as ‘I’, and the informant as ‘N’. Explanations and translations for Hindi words will be italicised and in parentheses. The Informant is a 67-year-old Punjabi father, raised primarily in Gujarat.

N: When the baraat (wedding procession to bring the groom in, think loud music, think showy) comes to the girl’s house, then, let’s say opposing side relatives, like the bride’s brother and the groom’s brother, will come close to each other and try to lift each other. It’s part of this tradition called milni (meeting), I think, it has a name, it’s called milni. But, it’s more than that, because milni is just the greeting, this is like… something that’s evolved from it. You have to lift the guy, and everybody gathers around and kind of cheers it. So, first the brothers will go, then the mamas (uncles/mother’s brothers) will go, the cousins will go, so equivalent relatives on both sides. It’s like a friendly contest, a sort of thing where the idea is like… to get to know each other, but it is a big thing. A coming together of the families. But people will do all kinds of things, like some guy will sit on the ground so the other can’t lift him up, some guy will… you get it. It’s like a thing with the younger relatives, especially. It started off as just a milni, where you would just greet each other, the fathers would garland each other, but now it’s become this big thing, friendly competition between the younger guys. Women don’t lift each other, or really have milni at all because they don’t all come out to do the greeting, to receive, they will stay in the home. This happens just before you enter the house.

Analysis:

This part of the wedding process in India has to do primarily with an introduction of the families, so some of the bride’s relatives welcome the groom into their house (and thus, their family), and they do so in both a gracious greeting ceremony, and this fun, loud game. Weddings are a joyous occasion, but inherently a very serious thing because they are all about lifelong commitment of not only two people, but the coming-together of two families. Therefore, along the way, there are many such games, jokes, and customs essentially built to just be fun, along with the other basic purpose, in this case allowing the families to meet, get familiar, understand and welcome each other, in a lighthearted way. North Indian weddings are very expansive, long processes, with many steps and many days, each for a different ritual, custom, or meeting, but each has grown into something more fun as time has passed — the mehndi (henna) ceremony is no longer just carrying out the rituals of beautifying and applying mehndi to the bride and wishing her the best, it has become a time for all the women of both families to bond, give each other advice and their own, simpler mehndi patterns, and have fun and make night-before-your-wedding jokes. It’s like a bachelorette party of sorts, except the bride has to stay in the exact same position for a while because her very elaborate mehndi is drying. Essentially, while Indian weddings are big, serious things with many traditions, rituals, and customs, each has grown with time to become more fun, much like this one!

‘Joota Chori’: Dipping Your Toes Into a New Phase of Life

The Interviewer will be referred to as ‘I’, and the informant as ‘S’. Translations for Hindi words will be italicised and in parentheses. The Informant is a 52-year-old Punjabi mother, born and raised in North India. ‘Joota Chori’ essentially means stealing shoes.

I: So, we have many wedding rituals and games, and practical jokes are part of that. Could you describe one?

S: Yeah, this is during the wedding ceremony, or you could say through and post it, but somewhere during the wedding ceremony, when the — both the groom and the bride have to remove their footwear to get onto the… the podium for the phere (Seven circumambulations performed by the bride and groom during Indian weddings), the sacred… the holy ritual, the seven rounds we take. So, at that point in time, the girl’s sisters and friends, they get together and hide the groom’s shoes. Basically, to seek ransom in return, at some point, and make some money, some cash. And the boy’s brothers and friends are attempting to manage to make sure they don’t manage that, and if they do manage it, they’re attempting to kind of… look for the shoes and find them to save that money. It becomes a major, a big thing, good fun thing, and mostly the girl’s sisters and friends make money. The guy comes practically prepared for it [she laughs], that x amount will mostly have to be given.

I: So, would you say it’s kind of like a rite of passage, in that sense?

S: Rite of passage, introducing each other to the families, the families and friends, yeah. Testing them and joking around, getting familiar.

Analysis:

Weddings are often known to involve the liminal space, the transition period where one person is moving from a certain identity (the family they were born into), to another one (the family they are marrying into). This liminal space is between the stages of departure from the initial and arrival and acceptance into the latter, and therefore, practical jokes and rituals are part of the experience, even in Indian weddings. Here, the practical joke is, as my informant states, a rite of passage, a welcoming of both parties into their counterpart families and communities, and they also have the auxiliary purpose of acquainting both families and friend-groups with each other in a lighthearted, fun way. This wedding game, a practical joke, signifies the introduction of the two families at the wedding, as well as the initiation of the bride and groom into these families, since the people being ‘pranked’ are not exactly entirely moved away from their previous community, and neither are they fully integrated into the new one.

Together Forever – A Henna Tradition

Item and Context:

“Henna traditions are deeply entrenched in the proceedings of Indian weddings. I remember when I was a teenager, my older female cousins would be getting married, and they would tease all of us younger girls by saying that if they hid the initials of our boyfriends in our henna and the respective boys were able to find them in the swirls and floral patterns, we would be together forever. Of course, being a teenager, I found this pretty embarrassing and awkward, as most teenage girls are when it comes to boys. Now, it’s no big deal, because I’m already married. But the next time any of the girls in our family gets married, I won’t leave you!”

Analysis:

As the informant mentioned, henna is really important in Indian weddings, regardless of religious affiliation. There are man different henna rituals and traditions, including this one. Oftentimes, the people targeted by this “hidden initials” ritual are the teenage girls of the wedding party, i.e. the ones who are about to grow up and get married soon enough. Therefore, it is common to embarrass them by hinting towards their upcoming weddings. Also, the idea of predestination is important in the faith of Hinduism, the predominant religion of India. The idea that a woman’s soulmate has already been picked out for her from lifetimes before and for lifetimes after is highlighted by this tradition, and the ideal outcome is that the girl’s supposed boyfriend should find his initials in the girl’s henna. Since henna is traditionally applied on the palms of a girl’s hands, the notion of palmistry is also brought up here ; if the boyfriend is able to find his initials in the girl’s henna, symbolically, he is finding and establishing his place in her hectic life as well.