The wedding sangeet and mendhi party–*sigh* two of my favourite pre-wedding events. I love the candour and relaxed atmosphere that oftentimes contrast to the formal wedding reception setting. I especially love it when the aunties sit down cross legged on the floor in their fancy suits and saris, break out the dholki, and start singing their hearts out. Boliyan–aka Punjabi folk songs–are an expected component of any pre-wedding event. It’s when the boliyan start that I know a wedding is around the corner.
However, it’s also when the boliyan start that I realize how little I actually know!! Most of the aunties (and my cousins who grew up in India) know the songs by heart. I, on the other hand, a Canadian born and raised Punjabi girl with a mom and close aunts who do not sing and who never sung boliyan around me, am often clueless. There are a couple songs for which I know the chorus or other songs for which I can pick up the lyrics as I go along. But, there are a lot of times when I miss the joke in the song or the emotional lyrics that lament the imminent loss of a beloved daughter. It’s during these times I’ll have a mix of emotions: excitement and happiness (cuz I love a good party), but also disappointment and a little shame. *If only I could sing along*
To my delight, it appears my prayers may have been answered. I was recently contacted by Ameet, who informed me about Boliyan Book. Boliyan Book, which was launched a few months ago, is a wedding song book that provides information and guidelines on where and when to sing traditional Punjabi wedding songs. What’s super cool about the book is that the lyrics are written in English phonetics, so even an illiterate Punjabi like me could sing along! It contains lyrics to songs for different occasions, including the karmai, chunni, maiyan, suhag, and more.
I haven’t been able to get my hands on one yet, but based on the website descriptions and pictures, it seems like a very useful resource–not to mention an amazing way for us not-so-fluent Punjabis to take part in and sustain a centuries-old tradition and to feel fully part of the occasion.
If anyone has seen or used this book recently, please share your experience with me! I’d love to hear about its utility!