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Marriage Songs from Punjab

The following songs are more like couplets or aphorisms—short and to the point rather than lengthy and discursive. They are sung at the women’s festivities at the time of marriage and reflect the social, cultural and familial realities of village Punjab.

The girl, who is now grown and ready for marriage, is compared to a radish, which is ready for breaking. Her parents fold their hands in obeisance to those better off, since they are poor. Reflects the practice of young men marrying down social hierarchies and women marrying up.

The radish is long and long are its leaves
Poor people give their daughters [in marriage] and yet their hands are tied.

The frivolity and freedom of childhood will be exchanged for the convention of purdah, face covering and living on the ‘points of the needle’ a poetic reference to both sexual intercourse and the pains of adjusting to life in the husband’s house.

Girls laugh while you can, play while you can
Laughter and games, all will be left behind
When some stranger, a
jat, will come, and take you away

Do not marry me off to these salesmen, father
They will make me take long ghungat (cover the face)
And make me live on the points of the needle

I am tender (brought up like a flower) so do not break me
I will break on my own
He is standing on the
vat (earthen edge of the pond) shouting for me
O my! See the way he twirls his moustache when he sees me

At the age of twelve years I went to work
This son of a farmer does not let me live in peace

Parito (name) your eyes are so big
Look at these men they keep women
But are scared to have daughters

Sometimes the pauna (towel) is green and sometimes it is yellow
My father's son -in-law is a handsome fellow

The singing minstrels wear glass earrings
And in the glass pieces I see your face
Wherever I look, I see only your face


Sohars from Punjab Workshop

This song describes the value given to the birth of a son and the drinking involved in celebration of that event

Elder sister-in-law and younger sister-in-law gave birth to sons,
In your house a girl was born.
So now
sardar, now you drink less.
You stupid keep producing girls
Whereas in every house boys are being born

Devraniyan (younger brother's wife) and jethaniyan (elder brother's wife) had girls
In your house a son was born
Now it is time for drinking,
So have some drinks,

Congratulations, congratulations to grandmother
To your near, dear ones, to your rich father
Who gave you your name
Congratulations, congratulations

Congratulations mama (mother’s brother)
To your family, to your clan
To you and to your father

Circulate the purse (batua vaar) around the child
and throw your purse,
If a son is born,
Drink till the bar is dry, empty
Every body drank half a bottle
My husband drank from the bowl
We drank so much that we all got drunk

This song is sung in the voice of the new mother speaking to her husband, who responds to everything she says with “Yes, my dear.” It tells her experience of each month of pregnancy—and also her imaginings of death and her husband taking another wife.

Oh, this is the first month
Get me two lemons oh, father of Guridita.
Yes my dear.

It is my second month
Yes my dear.
My heart is sinking.
Yes my dear.

Oh, father of Guridita.
Yes my dear.
It is the third month.
Yes my dear.
Get me some grapes.
Yes my dear.

It is the forth month.
Yes my dear.
Oh, father of Guridita.
Yes my dear.

It is the fifth month -- Yes my dear
It is the sixth month -- Yes my dear
It is the seventh month -- Yes my dear
It is the eighth month -- Yes my dear

It is the ninth month.
Yes my dear
Call some village
Yes my dear.
Call some
Yes my dear.

Oh, I am dying.
Yes my dear.
Oh, father of Gurudita.
Yes my dear.
I am sick of this.
Yes my dear.

Oh, father of Guridita.
Yes my dear.
May be when I die…
Yes my dear.
You will get my saut
(second wife)
Yes my dear.

Oh, my children are small.
Yes my dear.
Oh, who will take care of you all?
Yes my dear.
Oh, my house and farm.
Yes my dear.

Oh, my saut will take over.
Yes my dear.
Oh, my bullocks and cows.
Yes my dear.
Oh, my
saut will take over.
Yes my dear.
I am sick of your ‘yes my dear’.
Yes my dear.

In this song her husband comes to take her from her mother’s house. The tension between mother’s home and married home is depicted—her natal family members are disparaged when she complains about his car.

She: He is coming to fetch me today.
Tell him to sit on the cot.
My friends are coming to see him.
He will walk ahead and I will come strolling behind him.

He: Sit in the motorcar, my dear.

She: Oh, it shakes a lot.

He: You talk too much, you will get a slap from me.

She: I will go home and tell my mother.

He: What can your mother do?

She: I will go home and tell my father.

He: What can your father do?
Just use foul words for mother.

She: I will go home and tell my brother.

He: What can your brother do?
Utter a few more foul words for sister.


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