Sangeet is an Olympic level event

If you’re Indian, you’ll know that after just a month’s respite, the wedding season is back in full swing. Which means more evenings to dress up for, more aunties to listen to, richer food to consume, more occasions to drink, and more sangeets to dance at. And with each wedding it seems like the number of ‘functions’ just seems to be increasing. I don’t know how people sustain the energy needed to live through all these, but I tip my hat to you if you’re a seasoned wedding guest. I certainly don’t have the energy; more importantly, I don’t have the mental capacity for this.

Today I wanted to talk about the Sangeet function which often feels like the IIFA awards.

Originally, Sangeet as an ‘event’, a.k.a Dholak, was a Punjabi tradition wherein a celebration was held within the bride’s contingent to stop, relax and enjoy before the hectic wedding day. Today though, it is an international level dance competition. I kid you not, this is exactly what I think of Sangeet today. Okay let’s break it down.

First of all, there is a ‘concept’ for the ‘show’. Which is basically an attempt to tie all the performances together and make it seem connected. I have seen some really cool concepts but the ones I want to call out are the shams. A typical concept is to narrate/show the love story of the couple through dances. This is a pretty good concept right? The couple doesn’t have to repeat the story a million times to different people, so it’s practical. BUT, when it’s an arranged marriage scenario and this is the concept, a whole story is cooked up! Because, you know, love stories are cute and make you go aww, but you were under too many restrictions to actually fall in love. Or you were a wuss. And I’m all here like, barman, please give me another shot of vodka mixed with fictitious love stories.

Next, the actual dancing. I was quite excited the first time I was asked to dance/perform at a sangeet. But now, some 7-8 sangeets later, my insides cringe when a friend asks me to dance at their sangeet. Because it’s WORK! It’s literally work. I get handed a whole schedule for practices. I never even revised before exams as much as I’v practised these dances. And then there are choreographers. PROFESSIONAL CHOREOGRAPHERS! WHY??? Yeah it’s great for choreographers because they get a platform to showcase their talent. But again, WHY??? The thing about these choreographers is that if you’re a slightly above average dancer, they’ll bring out their ninja moves and you end up with aerial formations and Olympic gymnastics moves. I generally end up in this group and feel like I’m participating in So You Think You Can Dance. Why bruh? Why this complication? What happened to the good ol’ days like in school when the group itself would choreograph and dance? Bring that back!

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Moving on…….Dresses/costumes. Oh my god. To begin with, I don’t like taking instructions from people about things like dressing. So when somebody says, hey we should ALL wear xyz, mentally I vow to wear exactly the opposite. I don’t understand why so many people want to look like each other. It defeats the purpose of looking like an individual no. Also, why is it difficult to realize that something need not suit everybody because everybody has a different body type? For godsake, it’s a two-minute performance. TWO MINUTES. Nobody other than your own friends and the guy you’re flirting with really gives a shit. This is why when somebody says we should all wear anarkali, I show up in a lehenga.

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One time, somebody suggested wearing jeans for the performance. Which meant we had to come dressed in the outfit for the party, carry the other outfit for the dance, change into it before the dance, and then change back to the original outfit. The dance itself was for 1:45 minutes. I mean, show me the logic! That time I put my foot down. I refused to dance in anything other than the evening outfit. I might’ve come across as uncooperative but I didn’t care. I was not going to participate in this madness! It’s too much work for somebody else’s wedding, not even MY wedding!

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But having said all this, Sangeet is fun. Between a marriage ceremony and sangeet, I’d prefer sangeet. It’s about people letting loose, socializing and all these kind of fun things. It’s also the only wedding function at which you can talk to the couple. I do it only for my dearest friends because I’m grateful that they want me to be a part of their most important day and I want to honor them. Oh well, on to the next wedding!

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