Music is the soul of any Indian marriage ceremony. Without music and festivity, a wedding lacks the sparkle and nerve of a celebration. Weddings present an occasion when traditional music is usually played accompanied by various forms of dance whether traditional, folk or modern. The different types of music played before the wedding and during the course of various ceremonies, set the tone, mood and atmosphere for the entire wedding.
In most traditional Indian marriages, music sessions on both the bride and groom’s side begin well before the actual ceremony. The growing influence of the middle-class Indian has resulted in the birth of a new music-oriented industry providing innumerable alternatives to traditional singing to the beat of the DHOLAK. In fact, Hindu weddings rituals are mere excuses to break into song. Relatives and friends of the couple sing enthusiastically during the SANGEET ceremony. Tha Sagan and engagement are also incomplete without the spirited lifting of voice and dancing.
HOW IT ORIGINATED
The historical origin of Indian music goes back to the days of the Vedas when the verses of the Vedas were chanted and gradually musical notes evolved. In the practice of music not all developments could be reduced to writing. To keep their traditional integrity, they were imparted orally by teacher to pupil. That was the guru-shishya tradition maintained by the rule of law, but by devotion and love.
FOLK SONGS AND DANCE
Folk music and songs are sung without prior invitations in Indian marriages. the ladies that have gathered for the marriage have tailor-made folk songs on their lips which burst forth spontaneously at the right moment-when the bride is being decorated by ‘mehendi’ or smudged with ‘haldi’ or is in the process of ‘bidai’. However, tough the melodies themselves are so beautiful, it is but seldom that we hear them well sung; for native singers appear to have an idea that the highest form of their arts consists in introducing as much as grace as possible to the songs. Weather it adds to the beauty of their songs or not, is not their worry, How ever, the joy in singing on the wedding day is quite evident and infectious.
Traditional signing in North Indian wedding usually includes Boliyans and Tappas. The dancing of the Gidda or a mind blowing performance of Bhangra creates the festive, boisterous atmosphere. Other options are a collection of Banne and Gari, provocative songs sung at the Mehndi ceremonies.
SPIRITUAL INSPIRATION THROUGH MUSIC
Indian music has given the world Raga and Tala, Raga as the melody and Tala embracing the rhythmic aspect. And so with Raga and Tala as essential parts of Indian life, the harmony that emerges is having a balance in passions. The purpose of Indian music right from the beginning was to gain spiritual inspiration either directly through music or by using compositions as prayer for salvation of the self. It is quite evident in right from the wedding shehnai to the beating of the drums for the dead.
similarly, the Indian wedding, which was the beginning of the life long Sadhana for both husband and wife, gave music and harmony to the couple so that they could not forge ahead in life with greater faith and strength. The spiritual had to be inculcated in the couple and developed while passing through the different phases of married life so that ultimately they can achieve ‘Salvation’.
MODERN DAY MUSIC TRENDS
Now a days, the marriage party is organized in the residence flat, bungalows or in some 5 star hotels. People now are opting for anything from pop songs, Indian classical music to disco numbers. If a wedding ceremony is being held in a farm house, a big lawn in a 5 star hotel or any open space, there is a scope for organizing a show by reputed Ghazal or professional singers. Professional music groups provide wholesome entertainments programs lasting 3-4 hours wherein dinner for marriage invitees is usually arranged outside in the open, with the moon showering its silver on everyone around. Music groups have a number of options to suit different budgets. Sometimes there is a demand for Solo singers with few musical accompaniments. The invitees then get to listen to the songs of their own choice on request.
Ghazal performances are also ‘in thing’ these days. The team of artists for such performances includes a male and female singer, with or without a female dancer. Sometimes, a variety show- including pop songs, disco numbers, Hindi or Punjabi songs together with a magic show or a joker dance – is also showcased to keep the evening light.
Mujra shows are also catching up. And the shows do not have the same connotations as of old. They have now attained the dignity of their own. Sometimes a sophisticated mujras showcased in all subtlety, adds to the aura of marriage evenings and is patronized by bigger size pockets. Together with mujras qawwalis have become a popular genre. suitable for high profile weddings evenings arranged in a open space of a bungalow or a 5 star hotel.
What is the most ‘happening’ and if you have a budget, ease to call the performers from the film industry to entertain guests.
In the musical instrument category people popularly opt for a piano being played to set up their mood for the occasion. Old popular western hits, classical music and old film songs played on the piano make the evening memorable. It is also an accepted fact that a guitar can work wonders in a lively, festive and appropriate ambience. People like a guitarist serenading at the guest table. A particular section finds a violin recital ideal especially if the dinner table is a ‘sit-down’ affair
Whatever the choice may be, a favorite accompaniment is the dance floor with live or recorded music to keep the guests on their feet. A makeshift stage can be set so guests could enjoy slow, sentimental tunes or dance to lively numbers as the evening progresses.
Music oriented Indians – right from childbirth to the funeral pyre, religious rites to seasonal festivals, upnayana to marriage rites-have music for both big and small events of their life. While ones it was the beat of the drums, the clang of the cymbals, and the sweet strains of the shehnai or the blowing of the conch shells, which made the weddings auspicious now it is anything that warms the heart and brings joy, for that is what the spirit of all weddings is all about!