Unraveling the Sangeet Tradition: A Bride’s Perspective Through an American Lens

Before delving into our story, it’s crucial to note that I am from the United States, while my now-husband is a product of India. In the initial phases of our relationship, discussions about marriage surfaced naturally, driven by the shared certainty that we were destined to spend our lives together. Given our stark cultural differences, we opted for two distinct weddings to honor and fully embrace the unique ways our respective backgrounds signify and celebrate the sacred union of marriage.

Our Indian Wedding took place in December 2023 in Monish’s hometown of Vadodara, Gujarat, India at Laxminarayan Club & Resort. Our wedding lasted three days, with the first day consisting of the Mehndi Ceremony, which you can read about here. The second day unfolded with a busy agenda, commencing with the morning Pre-Wedding Rituals, followed by the Haldi Ceremony in the afternoon, and concluding with the lively Sangeet in the evening. And then came the big day – the wedding ceremony! With that, our incredible Indian wedding journey officially came to a close. This article dives into the excitement of a Sangeet and shares my personal take on being a bride in this vibrant celebration. Let’s get this party started!

What is a Sangeet?

The Sangeet, a vibrant celebration deeply rooted in Indian pre-wedding customs, is a joyous fusion of music and dance, dedicated to honoring the bride and groom in the most delightful way possible. Traditionally, this event was an intimate affair where the bride’s female relatives would serenade her with folk songs and playful teasing. However, in modern times, the Sangeet has transformed into a lively event where both of the couple’s families and friends come together to groove to Punjabi beats and Bollywood tunes. From spirited performances onstage to energetic dances, it’s a delightful fusion of tradition and revelry that sets the stage for the upcoming wedding festivities. What’s more, thanks to the influence from countless Bollywood movies, this event has transitioned into a playful contest to see which side has the best dancers: the bride’s or the groom’s.

This event typically begins with the emcee announcing the bride and groom who will make a grand entrance together, thus setting the tone for all that is to follow. You’ll often find the couple nestled in a special spot, front and center, giving them the ultimate vantage point to soak in all the excitement and love poured into the performances dedicated to them. After the dazzling performances wrap up, it’s time for everyone to hit the dance floor together! Additionally, delicious food and drinks will be flowing, ensuring the party keeps rocking well into the night.

Let me share a fun tidbit about Sangeet dance performances: they’re usually choreographed by a dance instructor. This adds a cool touch of uniformity to the group’s moves. The level of practice put in by each group of performers can also vary quite a bit. For instance, my friends and I dedicated a solid three days to mastering our dance moves and rehearsing, while Moni’s cousins started practicing weeks ahead of time. On the flip side, some of Moni’s friends only had a single session to get the dance down before hitting the stage! But hey, it’s all about the joy of participation, and less about perfecting every step. To quote our friend, Parth Shah, “no one remembers a good Sangeet performance. The mess-ups are what make it entertaining and memorable!” Which I couldn’t agree with more!

Who performs at a Sangeet?

This is totally subjective and can vary from wedding to wedding, but here’s one thing you can always count on: the bride and groom are definitely going to perform a dance together at least once during their Sangeet. Additional individuals who might be asked to perform on stage include: the bride’s siblings/cousins, the bride’s friends, the bride’s parents/aunts and uncles, the groom’s siblings/cousins, the groom’s parents/aunts and uncles and the groom’s friends.

With so many enthusiastic performers and limited time at the venue, you might witness as many as 20-30 different acts! Plus, some groups might spice things up by swapping partners or putting on multiple dance numbers. For example, the bride’s parents might perform one dance together, then perform an additional dance along with the groom’s parents and finish up with a final performance that includes the bride’s aunts and uncles. When it comes to who’s performing and how many dances they’re busting out, there are practically no rules! But here’s the scoop: if you didn’t snag an invite to perform from the bride or groom beforehand, don’t fret! You can still join in on the fun once the dance floor opens up for everyone.

Performances From Our Sangeet

My Experience as a Bride Attending My Own Sangeet

To be honest, by the time our Sangeet kicked off, I was utterly exhausted. I had risen early, spent the entire morning and afternoon posing for photos and participating in rituals and ceremonies, so it’s no wonder I felt worn out. Right after the Haldi Ceremony concluded, I hurried to wash off all the turmeric paste in the shower before heading to the beauty salon to prepare for a fun-filled night of dancing.

Following my pampering session at Sakhi Beauty Care, I returned to the hotel and was directed to the pool area to capture some lovely couple photos with Moni. I’m beyond satisfied with how these photos turned out! Our photographers nailed it, snapping super fun and creative shots of us rocking our glittery, purple attire!

Once the photoshoot concluded, Moni and I made our way upstairs towards the space where our Sangeet was being held. For some reason, I was feeling nervous about making our entrance, probably because I was both tired and hungry. Nevertheless, I pushed through, holding Moni’s hand tightly as we stepped into a room overflowing with joyous faces, all cheering us on and eager to join in the celebration.

The first performance was from Moni’s cousin, Mrunali, and her husband, Himanshu. They sang an a cappella version of Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley then followed up with an a cappella version of Chhu Kar Mere Manko by Kishore Kumar. I’m not sure why, but I got really emotional as they were singing Can’t Help Falling in Love. Perhaps I was swept away by the overwhelming outpour of love from the crowd, or maybe I was just deeply thankful for Moni’s unwavering love and patience, especially during moments when exhaustion weighed heavily on me. Whatever the case, I definitely shed a few tears while listening to the couple sing their beautiful duet!

Next up was my friends and me, per my special request. It was a first for all of them to experience an Indian wedding, let alone perform a Bollywood dance number. Combine that with the thrill of performing in front of a lively crowd, and you could practically feel the nerves buzzing through them! Nevertheless, we had an absolute blast during our performance, and the wedding guests were over the moon to witness the dedication of my non-Indian friends as they rocked their Bollywood dance moves!

Now it was my and Moni’s turn to perform our couples dance. I was incredibly nervous to perform this dance because we’d only rehearsed one time – the day that we learned the dance. Thankfully, Moni is an amazing dancer and I whispered, “I’ll follow your lead“, before our performance began. We ended up improvising roughly 85% of our dance, all while making it seem as if we were following the steps we’d previously learned. Big shoutout to my High School Drama Club for teaching me the invaluable skill of faking competence on stage—because let’s be real, half the time, I still have no clue what I’m doing! 😉

The final performances were from Moni’s friends and his cousins, a few of which included Moni in them. His cousins showed such sweet consideration by only dancing to songs performed by his favorite Bollywood actor, Shah Rukh Khan, as a tribute to him. Moni absolutely adored this gesture, and I couldn’t help but be touched by the way their love for him radiated through this seemingly simple act!

As soon as the performances were complete and the dance floor became open to all, I made a mad dash for my hotel room as I beyond exhausted and needed a break. My wonderful friends came to find me and ended up hanging out with me for a little bit, but left fairly quickly in order to allow me to get some much-needed sleep. The following day marked our Wedding Ceremony, the grand finale, and I knew I had to be fully refreshed and ready to go!

Up Next: The Wedding Ceremony. Make sure to stay in the loop by subscribing to my blog, where I’ll be sharing ongoing updates on my journey as the bride in an Indian wedding.

Special thanks to Pranav and his team at House of Stories for beautifully capturing all of our wedding events.

Published by Bailey Reber

Hi friends! Welcome to the world of Hey Bails, where you will get a glimpse of all the things I get myself into! Explore the world with me, check up on my progress learning the Hindi language, hear about my journey with mental health & bipolar 2 disorder via my podcast (Distressed to Joyful; Bailey's Way) and learn how to do a variety of DIY projects with me, such as crafting and beauty tutorials. So, what are you waiting for? Let's start having FUN!

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