Bharat’s Big Fat G20 Wedding

How many of us have attended at least one big fat wedding? Chances are most of us have. Those who have attended Punjabi weddings, or weddings in India inspired by Punjabi weddings, would know the ‘big fat’ about these weddings. Some of the important functions that take place are as follows.

A little bit of a background first. Now the G20 is an international group that has 19 nations and the EU as its members. All members except the EU are clubbed in 5 groups. All countries within a group have the right to presidency when it is their group’s turn. So the states within their group negotiate and decide. India is in group 2, other members being Russia, South Africa and Turkey.

Roka & Thaka are usually the very first functions. Roka means that the search for a match is concluded successfully with the families of the bride and groom having agreed for a marriage between their children. In Roka, the bride’s family visits the groom’s home, customarily without the bride, to bless their union with presents such as fruits, sweets, clothes, money, and other valuables. Following this, the bride’s family visits the home of the groom and brings presents, or “shagun,” which are bestowed upon the couple. This is Thaka. So when they decided it was going to be India’s presidency from 01 Dec 22 to 30 Nov 23, it was the G20 Roka. Now there are a lot of working group meetings scheduled all along the year. So you can say that the Thaka was when the first such meeting (Meeting for the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion) took place in from Jan 9th to 11th this year.

Then follows the Chunni ceremony in which the groom’s mother along with other female relatives visit the bride with a red chunni. But it is not just the chunni that they are armed with. They bless the bride with sweets, gifts, jewellery etc. welcoming her into the family. Now there were tonnes of meetings of various working groups in different parts of Bharat that were attended by the G20 members, observers and special invitees. You may take any of those akin to chunni.

Sagai usually either follows the chunni ceremony or is done on the same day depending upon the families’ conveniences. This is when bride and groom exchange rings. Ceremonies till now are for intimate relatives and very close friends on both sides, though information is usually shared with all. There is some mystery, suspense and intrigue in some corners though, over who is invited and who is not. This can be a nail biter, but relax, even the wedding families are under suspense wondering if there are adverse whispers. Why? Because usually by now, there is a chance that some relatives / friends / neighbours start finding faults with the way events are being organised, or the choice of bride and groom altogether. Recall that on March 25th & 26th one of the RIIG (Research and Innovation Initiative Gathering) meetings was held in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. Attended by 100 plus delegates representing G20 countries except China. Why? Like a heart broken lover who has lost his lover to a more suitable groom, China claims the whole of Arunachal as its own, ignoring the fact that it never was China’s.

Next comes Sangeet. It used to be ladies’ sangeet originally, arranged by the bride’s family, where the family’s ladies got together and sang folks songs, danced and teased the bride. This too is an intimate function usually. And not all relatives get invited – so the mystery behind whether they are invited or not, ends. And they sulk! Recall that the third G20 Tourism Working Group meeting, was held from 22nd to 24th May 2023 in Srinagar. And Pakistan and China cried hoarse. Have you heard of ‘begani shadi mein Abdullah deewana’? Well Pakistan was that Abdullah. Neither a member of G20, nor an observer, nor invited by India, but this is one neighbour has to cry always. China declined to attend this meeting citing the venue as a ‘disputed territory’. What else could China do, other than stand by its ever-crying poor brother.

We are now getting closer to marriage. Invitations are being sent & RSVP statuses are being updated at a frantic pace. The fast-paced thriller that a Punjabi wedding is, has picked up steam. Nail-biting moments are now generating themselves.

There is mehndi, kangana baandhna, chura & kaleerein, and haldi. All the pre-marriage day functions are over. On the marriage day there will be Ghara gharoli (nearby temple visit & bathing in holy water) for both the bride and the groom, followed by sehra bandi (the decorative headgear for the groom) and ghud-chadhi (literally, mounting the horse) on the groom’s side. The baraat (groom and groom’s marriage party) now heads for the venue where the bride’s family will welcome the groom’s family and conduct milnis. This is where the bride’s mother receives the groom with a traditional aarti and tikka. And the groom’s relatives are embraced and welcomed by the bride’s corresponding relatives.

Hold it right there… Our G20 Sherpas (A sherpa is the representative of a head of state or head of government who prepares the G20 summit and coordinates round the year for the activities) are akin to these corresponding relatives. There are multiple sherpa conferences where possible agreements, declaration, joint communique etc. are laid out. The news flow as of now (3:00 pm IST or so on 08th Sep 23) is that the G20 Sherpas are in hectic negotiations to reach a declaration or at least a joint communique, which the summit leaders can bless with their agreement.

In all this there is always that one relative, that one person in the inner circle of either the bride or the groom (usually the latter) who is angry with his side, or the opposite one for not having been taken care of properly. Sometimes he even boycotts the marriage. As per the folklore, usually it is the foofa (father’s sister’s husband) or the mausa (mother’s sister’s husband) known to conduct such a notorious behaviour. Even if it is some other relative, they are proverbially referred to as the foofa or the mausa of that wedding, in which they either do not turn up, or create nuisance.

No marks for guessing Xi Jinping is he proverbial foofa of Bharat’s big fat G20 wedding. He even had a problem with the Sanskrit words Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam (the world is one family).

Who cares! Let the Panda sulk while the Tiger roars!

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