RaagTime Episode 4 – Wedding Sounds of India

Band Baaja Baaraat. Indian weddings are noisy affairs. If anyone wanted an instant immersion into Indian culture, the first step would be to attend a wedding in any region of the country. Indian weddings are a feast for all senses and music plays a significant role in the gaiety.

The notes of the shehnai in northern India and the nadhaswaram in southern India are continuously heard across wedding halls. Both instruments are considered the mangal vaadya or auspicious musical instruments. This episode features among others Bismillah Khan playing the wedding notes on the shehnai in the Hindustani tradition and Balamuralikrishna singing the popular wedding song Sita Kalyana Vaibhogame, a composition of Tyagaraja in the Carnatic tradition.

The chenda drums of the southern state of Kerala mark the onset of a joyous occasion. The chenda is part of the musical orchestra for dance forms such as Kathakali in Kerala and dance-drama forms such as Yakshagana in Karnataka. Similar to African drums and the Taiko drums of Japan, the chenda is a cylindrical wooden drum nearly two feet tall and is played on one side. The drummer uses two sticks to strike the side and the sound is loud and clear.

Weddings are a favourite theme for movie producers in India. There have been umpteen songs featuring wedding scenes in amovies. Ae Mere Zohara Zabeen, an old Hindi movie song from Waqt describes the banter between men and women during the pre-wedding festivities. The song Mehndi Lagake Rachna from the Hindi movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge pitted the wits of the heroine against the hero where all the characters were dressed in wedding finery. Both the song and the movie broke several records at the box office.

Click here for RaagTime Episode 4 – Weddings Sounds of India

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