What Happens In A Sangeet?

Indian women dancing

An Indian childhood friend of mine always talked of the Sangeet when we were growing up. This always got me curious as to what goes on in a Sangeet until she made me her maid of honor. What I found out was mind-blowing.

So what happens in a Sangeet? Several things happen in a Sangeet. The event is often a ‘ladies only’ affair with ladies from both the groom’s and the bride’s family attending. It serves one main purpose – to relish and cherish the joy and happiness surrounding the couple.

Think of a Sangeet as a big party before the wedding. It features lots of food, music and dance. Unknown to many people, Sangeets initially lasted for ten days or even more!

Do You Bring Gifts To A Sangeet?

Gifts are always welcome. Note though, that Sangeet is usually a special preserve for close relatives and friends. It therefore makes sense to bring well thought gifts. Note too that the couple will receive gifts on their wedding.

That doesn’t mean in any way that you can’t bring gifts to a Sangeet. As a matter of fact, you can bring your special gift to a Sangeet complete with a special message to the couple and still proceed to give your gift on the wedding day.

Sangeet Gift Ideas

There are many gift ideas worth considering when it comes to Sangeet events. Whatever you choose, be a little bit creative. You don’t have to buy anything expensive. Simple yet thoughtful gifts should be enough. Consider the following ideas.

  • Sweet box – Nearly all Indian weddings feature sweet boxes as gifts. There’s a reason for that – Indians consider sweets as a symbol of ‘shagun’, which directly translates to ‘good luck’. Be sure to spice up your sweet box with something unusual. A necklace, a scarf or even a small piece of art are good examples of what you can use to spice up your sweet box gift. A sweet box on its own as a gift is still good only that it’s a ‘cliché’ gift so you’re left with no choice but to spice up the box.  Ladoo, jalebi and gulab jamun are all examples of sweets you can put in a sweet box gift pack for a Sangeet.
  • Clothes – You can’t go wrong with a dress gift. Remember that this may mean you have to get the bride’s measurements first. Be discreet and respectful with how you go about asking for the measurements. The gift should be a surprise after all.
  • Shoes –Should stand out as an option if for one reason or another you run out of Sangeet gift ideas. But like it is the case with dress or sari gifts, you have to get the size right first. Then to spice up the gift, throw in a nice jewelry inside. A bangle or even a necklace will suffice.

Is There Alcohol At A Sangeet?

Many Indian communities have no problem with alcohol so expect alcohol at a Sangeet. This is hardly ever the case though where the couple and their families are devout Sikhs, as devout Sikhs beliefs around alcohol may mean no alcohol is allowed at the Sangeet.

As already mentioned, the Sangeet is all about bringing people together. There’s therefore nothing wrong with having alcohol at the Sangeet’s reception. Expect scotch or even gin. This is especially the case in Indian weddings in Europe and America.

Sangeet Dress Code

You’ll quickly notice that Indians always go for glamorous outfits when it comes to the Sangeet. Keep your outfit simple but stand out. Western dresses are ideal if you’re not familiar with Indian dress codes. You can also try any of the following Indian outfits.

  • Kurta Pajama – Kurta pajamas are ideal for family functions and other social gatherings that bring people to celebrate a person or an event. They aren’t just comfortable, they are also fabulous. They come in different textures and colors so you can be sure you’ll have an easy time finding one that look goods on you.
  • Sherwani  – Sherwanis have evolved in terms of texture and colors over the years. Like Kurta pajamas, you’ll have an easy time finding one that looks good on you. They’re ideal for the Sangeet mostly because they were worn traditionally for parties and social gatherings. They also symbolize class.
  • Nehru Jacket + Kurta Pajama –The Nehru jacket will stand out as the cherry on top of the cake that the Kurta Pajama is. It adds a pinch of class, charm and elegance to the Kurta Pajama outfit. It is perfect solely because it is considered semi-formal in India. It doesn’t end there. Nehru jackets can also match with different Indian dresses with ease.
  • Accessories – It doesn’t matter if you choose not to go for traditional Indian attires. Whatever you choose to wear to a Sangeet, accessorize. Bring out your best and most favorite jewelry. Body adornments are also a good idea. Ornate stickers on the forehead or even bindis are all good examples of adornments you can wear to a Sangeet. Be sure to ask your host what to wear if you’re not too sure about your choice.

Basic Etiquette

Traditional Indian weddings always featured outfits that cover the legs, shoulders and even the arms. This applies not just for Sangeets but also in every day Indian outfits. If you’re not going for traditional Indian clothes, then be sure to cover up. Make sure your outfit covers especially your legs and shoulders. Cleavage and dresses that don’t cover the knees are not acceptable. The same can be said of clothes that cling to your body.

Sangeet Song And Dance

No Sangeet is ever complete without song and dance. Expect lots of music and dancing. You don’t have to worry though if you’re not a good dancer. You can always sit back and enjoy watching others sing and dance.

Bride’s Family Introduction Dance Performance at Sangeet

Female members from both the bride’s and the groom’s family congregate to sing traditional Indian songs for the bride and the groom. Elder members of both families take the center stage as they dictate which songs the congregants will sing and dance to.

Remember the Sangeet is all about fun so expect good jokes too about the in-laws. Remember too that the Sangeet is also meant to bring together two families. It eases tension and makes it easy for the two families coming together to know each other better.

The Groom’s Role

Traditionally, the Sangeet was all about the bride. That’s why it has always been a ‘ladies only affair’. This has changed over the years. Sangeet events also involve men today. Basic rules still apply though. Bring gifts, dress well and have fun.

Westernized Sangeet Ceremonies

You must’ve come across the term Westernized or Americanized Sangeet ceremonies. They simply refer to Sangeet ceremonies that aren’t too strict on traditional Sangeet codes of conduct. But even with such events, you’ll quickly notice that factors like the dress code and even the choice of gifts one goes for still hold a special place in the hearts of the bride and the groom. The best you can do if you’re not sure about anything is to ask your host for clarification.

Wrap Up

Attend one Sangeet and you’ll most likely want to attend many others. It’s all about bringing two families together as already said. It is a traditional that has been passed one for hundreds of years. Two families come together and get to know each other in a special and fun way. Whatever happens, enjoy yourself. Expect an array of Indian dishes and drinks. Be social too. Make friends if you can.

Photo credits:

Main image – Shamrock23, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Recent Posts