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The Big Fat Punjabi Wedding

The Big Fat Punjabi Wedding

May 22, 2010

Who cares if they are pompous, brash and showy, Punjabi weddings are great fun too!

It’s an all too exotic affair; the big fat Indian wedding, popularized the world over by Bollywood’s larger than life depiction of the myriad traditions and customs that form the celebrations in a typical Indian marriage ceremony. Of course knowing its penchant for exaggeration, I always did wonder whether the real stuff was even moderately close to what I had seen in innumerable Hindi movies. Where the Raichands and Malhotras got married on sprawling lawns, with thousands of baraatis accompanying the groom. Where the bride adorned in kilos of gold sat waiting for the groom to arrive as his family hurled 100 rupee notes on the bandsmen. Where riches were shown off with reckless abandon for any and everyone to see.

So last week as I packed my bags to attend a close friend’s wedding in Ludhiana, I was skeptical, intrigued and full of excitement to see for myself the splendor and grandeur of a real Punjabi wedding. And boy, I wasn’t disappointed! It was almost like déjà vu, the scenes all too familiar, mirror images in fact of those filmy family dramas I had seen for years and yet so new and awe inspiring. For someone like me, used to dull, anxiety ridden Maharashtrian weddings, where the major emphasis is on maintaining a high degree of non-conspicuousness and death stirring boredom, this was a culture shock of sorts. Everything, from the clothes to the venue, the food and the gifts was blatant, in your face, non-pretentious, extravagant and like it or not, liberating to an extent.

Now whether this is a case of the reel inspiring the real or vice versa is for sociologists and film enthusiasts to study, but what I am sure of is that the nature of the Punjabi people reflects strongly in their marriage celebrations. Their vivaciousness, free spirited and uninhibited zest for life and strong sense of family and community comes alive during their weddings. The no holds barred, full throttle approach to having fun, the songs and dances and the rustic sense of humor are all in fact perfect ingredients for a 3 hour family entertainer. No wonder then that Bollywood has latched on to this culture and fortunately or unfortunately passed it off as a collective representation of the so called traditional Indian wedding ceremony. For apart from the Punjabis, not many of us from other parts of the country celebrate marriages in such a flamboyant, lively manner.

As you go down south the fun element in the wedding is slowly replaced by a solemn demeanor. The rituals get more intense and the celebrations less flashy. The dancing baraatis are replaced by stoic faces twiddling thumbs on plastic chairs. The sprawling hotel properties give way to non-air conditioned halls. And the massive buffet spread is substituted with simple but delicious fare served on a banana leaf

There were many debates among my friends on what the 'right' way to get married was. Was such extravagance really justified? Ideally I would have been the first one to dismiss any such excessiveness. But after all these years of being a cynic, I've sort of realised that weddings are an idiosyncratic expression of a region’s attitude towards life. People down south are known to be conservative and introverted in their approach to many realms of life. Up north, especially in Punjab it is the opposite. And instead of dismissing their zeal for living, perhaps we should celebrate it!

Here's to big Indian…umm Punjabi weddings!


  • evangeline
    26.07.12 04:00 PM
    Realy it's like a momnt of felngs of being a south indian bt if go to NI side especiaaly 'PUNJAB' d marag ceremony is vry funy........
  • Shalini
    10.06.11 06:44 PM
    what a lovely share of experience...the difference in styles should be given credit for making one more interesting over other...!
  • girlsguidetosurvival
    10.12.10 06:00 AM
    It is amazing how expats identify themselves when they come home for weddings. Big and fat weddings at times when half the state is dying of farmer suicides and other half is drug addicted... These Big Fat weddings are one of the reasons for female fetecide in this state and skewed sex ration.

    Gave attending weddings long back, just attend those taking place at the Summer Solstice. Glad you enjoyed it...

    Desi Girl
  • Aashish Sood
    Aashish Sood
    11.10.10 10:50 AM
    Hey NRI

    Loved the first person account of a typical Punjabi Wedding... must have been a really good (I hope!) surprise for you to attend a Punjabi Wedding, not being used to it.

    I have written a similar, not so short, humorous post on the Big Fat Punjabi Weddings at Do tell how did you like it?
  • Anup Gottipati
    Anup Gottipati
    31.07.10 05:44 PM
    I got married in December and the celebrations where a joint South Indian and Punjabi effort and it was fun and enjoyment all the way, I think the misconception that all South Indian weddings are dull and boring seems to be changing and sangeets and mehndi nights, stag and hen parties, and glamorous and flamboyant receptions have become the order of the day, well in Hyderabad at least !!!!!!!
  • Sapna
    29.06.10 12:59 PM
    Great post. As colourful as the Punjabi weddings :)

    I always felt South Indian marriages are boring. But these days even some South Indian marriages have Sangeet, Mehendi... Since it is a borrowed concept, they are a lot more different from the actual Punjabi counterparts but fun nevertheless

    PS: I too did try my luck with writing abt the Indian weddings. Here is the link:
  • Mirchii
    09.06.10 02:56 AM
    Lovely read!
  • Maria
    08.06.10 07:25 PM
    U r right about south indian marriages.bore the hell out of people ...even my own was the fact after reading ur piece on our nothern counterparts,I wish I cud deck myself up head to toe and head out to gatecrash some punjabi wedding :)
  • S.R.Ayyangar
    25.05.10 03:52 PM
    Punjabi marriages are too lavish and extravagant display of wealth.
  • Kcalpesh
    25.05.10 10:33 AM
    A good analysis of India Weddings!! Nice reading....
  • keerthana
    24.05.10 09:49 PM
    I'm a South Indian and I always get bored at South Indian weddings!, They are sooo boring!!
  • Injection Mold Troubleshooting
    Injection Mold Troubleshooting
    23.05.10 04:27 PM
    Lovely, makes me proud to be a Punjabi.
  • Gori Girl
    Gori Girl
    22.05.10 09:20 AM
    I just want to know if Harbhajan Mann and his backup singers did some bhangra, just like in the movies.
  • Shilpa
    22.05.10 06:17 AM
    Never got to attend a punjabi wedding but ya marriages down south lack the fun and liveliness of a punjabi one....:)

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