Indians love to dance! This is not a random musing or topic for discussion but a statement of absolute fact.
India is one of the few countries in the world that embraces music and dancing wholeheartedly.
Dancing as part of celebrations is intrinsically woven into the fabric of Indian society and culture. With the exception of mourning there is no life event that involves jubilation of any kind that does not include shaking a leg and letting loose. And there is no bigger cause for celebration for any Indian family than an Indian Wedding.
Considering the sheer expanse of India filled with its numerous cultures, rituals and ceremonies, it is the love for larger than life festivities that have made Indian wedding dances a common feature from North to South and East to West. Every region has its own distinct flavour of music and dancing infused with its own traditions and history. Typically South Indian states have been more subdued and simplistic about their weddings with celebrations getting grander, louder and more opulent moving towards North India. However with the advent in migration for work to larger cosmopolitan cities, cultural boundaries have become more fluid to allow for incorporating an Indian wedding with fun bits and pieces from other regions.
Wherever they may be geographically Indian weddings are renowned for large-hearted hospitality, warm hosts, bright colours, loud music and smashing Indian wedding dances. Age is no exception or restriction for wedding guests, family and friends not to partake in the chaos and spectacle of Indian wedding dancing. From grannies to little tots everyone gets involved in the exuberant joy of the occasion and breaks out dance moves that might shock anyone who has never witnessed it before.
Having two left feet and being of Indian descent is a near statistical impossibility that is met with gasps of horror from other Indians. An Indian who cannot dance is an unheard of phenomenon deemed worthy of being studied for medical journals and for an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. You don’t have to be graceful, rhythmic or even synchronised for Indian wedding dances. You just have to be caught up in the moment and having the time of your life.
Indian wedding dances are not relegated to one occasion of complete and utter craziness but are essential of every function. It all starts with the Mehendi that is a predominantly female festivity. However once the henna is applied and while all the ladies wait patiently for their henna to dry and stain their hands with its gorgeous orange brown colour some dancing is the order of the day. The men join in while a dholi or bass drummer belts out loud beats and songs that invite different sections of the bride and groom’s friends and family to take centre stage and show off their moves.
However the pinnacle of Indian wedding dancing is specially reserved for the Sangeet ceremony. Characteristically meant for music and dancing, the sangeet ceremony usually features choreographed performances by close friends and family meant to entertain other guests and to set the mood. The participants painstakingly practise for months in advance to deliver a flawless rendition of current Bollywood or Tollywood chart hits that could give the originals some stiff competition.
Indian wedding dances don’t conclude at the end of the sangeet night as the groom’s side of the family is in for another dose during the baraat. The baraat is the wedding procession of friends and family that used to traditionally start at the groom’s residence and move towards the bride’s home accompanied by a massive band of live musicians playing dhols (drums) and shehnais (Indian trumpets). It signifies the joy of the groom’s side in welcoming the bride into their lives and as part of their family. Today the wedding processions may have become shorter but the Indian wedding dancing has by no means become less enthusiastic. The bride’s family welcomes their new in laws at the entrance of the wedding venue and both families proceed towards the wedding ceremony filled with boundless happiness and eternal love as they shower the couple with blessings for the magical new phase of their lives.
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Image sources: mercinewyork