Love knots

SUB­TLE CAN NEVER BE AN AD­JEC­TIVE USED TO DE­SCRIBE THE FLAM­BOY­ANT AF­FAIRS THAT ARE PUN­JABI WED­DINGS. EVEN THE QUI­ETEST OFTHE LOT ARE DAZ­ZLING CER­E­MONIES, RE­FLECT­ING THE TRUE PUN­JABI CELEBRATION OF LIFE. SIM­PLY PUN­JABI GETS THE BEST IN THE BUSI­NESS TO SHARE

India Today - - INSIDE - BY SHIBANI ANAND

SIM­PLY PUN­JABI shares se­crets of mak­ing big fat Pun­jabi wed­dings even more ex­tra­or­di­nary

Pun­jab’s wed­ding in­dus­try, is said to be ‘ re­ces­sion proof’. Rid­ing high on de­signer wed­ding cards, un­con­ven­tional venues and Bol­ly­wood- themed chore­og­ra­phy, Pun­jab has emerged as one of the big­gest wed­ding hubs in the coun­try.

Chandigarh- based wed­ding plan­ner Man­meet Ah­luwalia of Wed­ding Bells elab­o­rates, “Pun­jab has wed­ding themes have never been seen be­fore in In­dia. We have even had Las Ve­gas- themed cock­tail par­ties with ta­ble host­ess and casi­nos.” “Wed­dings are an im­por­tant el­e­ment of the Pun­jabi life­style and an oc­ca­sion for fam­i­lies to show­case their hos­pi­tal­ity and op­u­lence,” says Anupreet Sethi, the force be­hind Wed­ding Asia, one of the big­gest wed­ding shows in the re­gion. Ac­cord­ing to Ra­jiv Cha­lana, gen­eral man­ager, The Fort Ram­garh, a lux­ury ho­tel in Chandigarh, the sky is the limit for those plan­ning a wed­ding in Pun­jab. “There are times when clients want ev­ery­thing to be over the top, in­clud­ing the food, dé­cor, even the wel­come cer­e­mony for the guests. The idea is to get ev­ery­thing un­der one roof.” Prepa­ra­tions be­gin many months in ad­vance and the wed­ding it­self is eas­ily a week long af­fair here. From the bach­e­lor and bach­e­lorette par­ties, to the mehendi, cock­tails, Anand Karaj and re­cep­tion, each event is larger than life. Ac­cord­ing to DJ Bhanu, one of the big­gest wed­ding plan­ners in Pun­jab, those seek­ing an eth­nic wed­ding are opt­ing for ra­jwaara or a royal theme with palace- like struc­tures and ele­phants in the court­yard. Then there is a Mughal set- up that has the last word in op­u­lence. “Pun­jabis love to ex­per­i­ment, and wed­dings give them a once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity to be in­no­va­tive, cre­ative and show it to the world,” adds DJ Bhanu.

Ace wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher Amit Sood echoes same thoughts and says his clients are ready to ex­per­i­ment, and al­ways dig deep into their pock­ets. “A Boe­ing 747 was hired by a wed­ding party that took off from Delhi, flew over to Am­rit­sar and at 12 noon, the rings were ex­changed 32000 feet in the air,” re­calls Sood. Af­ter that, the en­tire wed­ding party was whisked off to Goa for a five- day celebration. A lot of re­search, plan­ning and co­or­di­na­tion goes into the event. Anupreet from Wed­ding Asia says that more than money, a lot of time should be put in­vested to en­sure that a wed­ding turns into a fan­tas­tic day to re­mem­ber. “There used to be a time when Bol­ly­wood would in­spire our wed­dings. To­day, the way things stand, our wed­dings could very well in­spire Bol­ly­wood!,” she says. “You have to feel the emo­tions and see the ex­trav­a­gance, and only then can you truly un­der­stand the mag­ni­tude of the Pun­jabi wed­ding. We're talk­ing huge money here. It's not a fam­ily af­fair any­more,” says Ish­winder Jauhar of Te­jee's Stu­dio, one of the most sought wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers. Has there been a shift from the tra­di­tional? Ac­cord­ing to Ah­luwalia of Wed­ding Bells, Pun­jab has two ma­jor cat­e­gories, “The lo­cal res­i­dents want to try con­tem­po­rary ideas. Then there are the NRIs who seek lo­cal flavour and al­ways ask for tra­di­tional con­cepts.” The venues ideas are get­ting in­no­va­tive too; there are op­tions of hav­ing a cer­e­mony at a fort or even the fa­mous Rock Gar­den of Chandigarh. THE PLAN­NERS PRE­DICT Man­meet and Neha Ah­luwalia of Wed­ding Bells fore­cast the rise of con­tem­po­rary themes this sea­son. “The fo­cus is on all things big— huge carved wooden struc­tures and de­signer flo­ral props. Wed­dings must look re­gal and grand,” says Neha. Those opt­ing for all things tra­di­tional are choos­ing to go “royal” this year. “Think ra­jwadas of Ra­jasthan, and many are in­spired to try the Um­rao Jaan and Pa­keezah looks,” says Man­meet. The NRIs are es­pe­cially keen on hav­ing tra­di­tional wed­dings. “From cloth­ing, food, cer­e­monies,

gifts they go as Pun­jabi as it can get,” adds Neha, who loves plan­ning NRI wed­dings. Most lav­ish wed­dings have a celebrity as the star per­former. Artists like Neeraj Shrid­har, Jazzy B and Malkit Singh per­form at a lot of wed­dings. “We now see a grow­ing de­mand for dance troops or even acro­bats and cul­tural per­form­ers from abroad,” adds Neha. Wed­ding Bells spe­cialises in mak­ing elab­o­rate sets and is known for cus­tomi­sa­tion. So, if you want a Mughal theme, you are as­sured of the ac­cu­racy of the de­tails. TOPTIP

Al­ways opt for bright colour themes and use lots of ex­otic flow­ers and can­dles. Con­tem­po­rary chan­de­liers are very pop­u­lar this sea­son. En­sure the en­tire venue is car­peted

CON­TACT SCO 411- 412, Level 1, Sec­tor 35 C, Chandigarh and Aveda Ho­tels and Re­sorts, Hum­bra Road, Lud­hi­ana

TEL 09646099999 STU­DIO 69 His fans say that a Pun­jabi wed­ding can­not be big and fat with­out DJ Bhanu. Bhanu be­lieves the sea­son’s flavour varies from client to client but I do know that more and more tra­di­tion­ally- styled wed­dings are lean­ing to­wards a royal theme. “Dou­ble storey palace- in­spired struc­tures and ca­parisoned ele­phants, ev­ery­thing has to be grand. In case the client wants a mod­ern theme, then sets are more like tele­vi­sion show sets with in­ter­na­tional hosts and bar­tenders, lasers shows, smoke ma­chines,” adds the 43- year- old Bhanu. Ac­cord­ing to him, the con­ser­va­tive days are over and no­body in Pun­jab is afraid to ex­per­i­ment any­more, es­pe­cially when it comes to wed­dings. “Gur­d­wara wed­dings can now be fol­lowed by a pool party. Peo­ple just want to be dif­fer­ent all the time,” says Bhanu. He re­calls a wed­ding where the bride was low­ered from a 60 feet high crane styled to look like a ‘ UFO’ and the groom emerged from the ground un­der­neath the stage. Of course, how could it all be com­plete with­out lit­eral fire­works when they met on the stage! “Be­lieve it or not, we once did a Play­boy theme for a wed­ding,” he laughs. Bhanu says his NRI clients want to cel­e­brate their Pun­jabi roots and ask for folk singers, tra­di­tional food and para­pher­na­lia like ban­gles and paraaan­dis. “Of course, a sev­en­tier wed­ding cake pop­ping cham­pagne bot­tles re­mind you that this is an NRI wed­ding,” he quips. Lud­hi­ana, Am­rit­sar, Ja­land­har and Bathinda are big mar­kets for Bhanu. The Doaba re­gion is also big on op­u­lent wed­dings as there are large seg­ments of NRI clients here.

TREND­ING NOW BOL­LY­WOOD Per­for­mances by Jac­que­line Fer­nan­des, Geeta Basra and Neha Dhu­pia

MU­SI­CIANS Gur­daas Mann, Diljit, Mika Hari Sukhmani, Jasleen, Harshdeep, RDB, Rabbi

SETS Fu­tur­is­tic LED- lit back­drops and dance floors and ly­cra sets are hot this sea­son

CON­TACT Cy­clone Acous­tics. 3rd Floor, Sant Ishar Singh Na­gar, Pink Flats, Pakhowal Road, Lud­hi­ana. TEL 09814022660 LO­CA­TION LO­CA­TION THE FORT RAM­GARH Over 360- year- old and just a thirty minute- drive from Chandigarh, The Fort Ram­garh is a much sought af­ter back­drop for those seek­ing an un­usual wed­ding venue. Ac­cord­ing to gen­eral man­ager Ra­jiv Cha­lana, the place hosts royal- themed wed­dings, com­plete with ele­phants sta­tioned at the lav­ish en­trance. They also of­fer cus­tomised colour schemes, light­ing and dé­cor. “Here, the Jai Mala cer­e­mony is done with the help of ele­phants. The bride and the groom ar­rive on ele­phants and ex­change gar­lands from their royal perch,” smiles Cha­lana.

So, it cer­tainly won’t get more out­landish than this. Will it? “The sky is the limit. The pack­ages we of­fer can get ex­tremely lav­ish,” he adds. TEL 09814200007 DEEP ROOTS RE­SORTS In the words of Kan­wal Brar him­self, “Our en­deav­our is to bring pure Pun­jabi el­e­ments of to all our wed­ding func­tions. A lot of fam­i­lies are of­ten en­ter­tain­ing guests from Europe and we want them to get the real essence of our state. Our wed­ding guests ex­pe­ri­ence lush green fields, chilly morn­ings, sound of pea­cocks, the morn­ing call for prayers and all that is Pun­jabi by na­ture. An ideal set­ting for the per­fect Pun­jabi wed­ding.” Deep Roots of­fers three prop­er­ties, The Deep Roots Re­treat, the Deep Roots Fort and the Deep Roots Her­itage are a part of a col­lec­tion of prop­er­ties with strong her­itage. The Deep Roots Fort lies mid way be­tween Ropar and Anant­pur Sahib, about 50 km from Chandigarh and while the Deep Roots Her­itage is in vil­lage So­hian, 100 km from Chandigarh. TEL 988 838 6798 ROCK GAR­DEN Rock Gar­den serves as an ideal wed­ding venue for those who have a pen­chant for all things artis­tic. Com­fort­ably sit­u­ated right in the heart of Chandigarh, Nek Chand's cre­ation pro­vides for a lovely wed­ding back­drop that is a break away from the mun­dane. Large open spa­ces, flanked by un­usual and cre­ative struc­tures, make for an ex­cel­lent wed­ding lo­cale. Wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers are bi­ased to­wards Rock Gar­den too as it gives them am­ple can­vas to ex­per­i­ment with and cap­ture im­ages with varied flavours. It is no won­der then that the place is hugely favoured by artists and those with a flair for cre­ative ex­pres­sion. Book­ings can be made at the of­fice sit­u­ated within the premise.

TEL 08558882810 TOPTIPS

Book well in ad­vance to avoid sea­sonal rush. CAR RENTALS JHAJJZ CAR RENTALS Pun­jabis sure know how to ar­rive in style and wed­dings are no less than a lux­ury car show. “In the past few years, there has been a steady rise in the de­mand of li­mousines, BMWs, Mercedes- Benz and Porsche Panam­eras,” says Ram­jesh Jhajj, who owns Jhajjz Car Rentals, one of the most sought af­ter names for wed­ding ve­hi­cle rentals, es­pe­cially for NRIs. Ac­cord­ing to Jhajj, peo­ple who come from Europe de­mand Audis, BMWs and the Mercedes- Benzs, while those com­ing from North Amer­ica favour Li­mousines and high- end SUVs. “The bride and the groom of­ten ar­rive in sep­a­rate Li­mousines or SUVs and af­ter the cer­e­mony both leave to­gether in a con­vert­ible, it's all very ro­man­tic,’ says Jhajj. CON­TACT SSS- 103, Sec­tor 63, Mo­hali TEL 9814400019; jhajjz. in THE LE­GENDS Mo­hali- based Man­raj Virk, who owns The Le­gends car rentals, says vin­tage cars are the best to stay sim­ple when set­tling for a clas­sic ride. “We of­fer our cars with just a sim­ple rib­bon on the bon­net, or the han­dle bars. Keep­ing it sim­ple is what makes it more eye- catch­ing,” says the 29- yearold. The Le­gends of­fers Austins, Minis, VW Bee­tles, Mercedes- Benz, Ford, and Chevro­let. His team also of­fers trips to the Har­mandir Sahib and even pick­ups for the wed­ding guests. CON­TACT 9988999706; thele­gends. co. in MUSTDO Keep a mix of sedans and suvs Book at least two months in ad­vance.

MUSTAVOID Drink­ing and driv­ing. Over- dec­o­ra­tion. Arms and am­mu­ni­tions. THE DOLI Some­where in the lanes of Chandigarh city sits Nand Lal, 35, owner of the Nand Lal Mas­ter Band, sought af­ter by wed­ding plan­ners for Do­lis, the tra­di­tional bri­dal palan- quins and Brass Band ser­vices. Lal has seen more wed­dings than any mod­ern wed­ding plan­ner and do­lis for him are still an es­sen­tial and sen­ti­men­tal el­e­ment of the tra­di­tional bri­dal de­par­ture or vidai cer­e­mony. “It’s a beau­ti­ful as­pect of In­dian wed­dings. There is a del­i­cacy at­tached to the mo­ment when the shy bride is car­ried away to her new home in an or­nate doli,” says Lal, who be­lieves that trends may come and go, but a doli will never lose its charm.

“There has been a steady de­cline in the de­mand of do­lis and I too have been forced to re­duce my col­lec­tion. To­day, I have five do­lis and cus­tomers who want royal themed wed­dings ask for those. Some peo­ple want a fleet of ele­phants and camels to ac­com­pany the doli,” adds Lal, who is pop­u­lar for his bands as well. “A Pun­jabi wed­ding can­not be com­plete with­out the dhols and tasheys, trum­pets need to be heard louder, the dhols need to beat heav­ier, the man­jeeras need to go faster, you’re in the land of Heer Ran­jha af­ter all,” he says. CONTACTNand Lal, S. C. O. 8, Sec­tor 41- D, Chandigarh TEL 9357234703. DRESS­ING UP Sub­tle is out, glam is in. Min­i­mal­ist at­tires, dull colours, and faint em­broi­deries have made way for stun­ning ensem­bles, vivid colour pal­ettes and em­bel­lish­ments. And the de­sign­ers are more than will­ing to usher in the new wave this sea­son, from strik­ing corsets with flam­boy­ant lehen­gas to

heav­ily de­tailed fish­tails with tra­di­tional du­pat­tas adorned with in­tri­cate thread work, they are craft­ing it all. Honii Sandhu, who has de­sign­ing bridal­ware for a decade, says the rage this sea­son is floor length, heavy anakalis and those Pak­istani styles. “Pun­jabi brides never fail to sur­prise us. They are choos­ing tra­di­tional suits in­stead of lehen­gas for the wed­ding day this sea­son,” says the 46- year- old Sandhu, whose sig­na­ture styles in­clude flo­ral mo­tifs and deep cut sil­hou­ettes. In many ways, bri­dal fash­ion fol­lows Bol­ly­wood fash­ion, track­ing var­i­ous trends that our favourite hero­ines have glam­ourised. Sandhu agrees that the in­flu­ence has been huge. “There was a time, when ev­ery­one wanted Mad­huri Dixit's back­less blouse from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. To­day, it is about Ka­reena's chif­fon blouse from Ra1 or the em­bel­lished saris from Karan Jo­han movies. Brides are ex­per­i­ment­ing th­ese days, so there is no bore­dom,” she says. But a beau­ti­ful Phulkari re­mains the key com­po­nent of a wed­ding en­sem­ble. “If the right pieces are cho­sen with care, this can be one of the pret­ti­est pieces in your trousseau. Keep an eye for de­tail­ing and you are bound to land up with a master­piece,” ad­vises Sandhu. TOP TIPS Hair Your hair can en­hance the sub­tle fea­tures of your garment. If you are heavy on the bust, go for V- shaped neck­lines and hold your hair in a bun and let a few strands frame your face. SONU GANDHI Sonu Gandhi who has been de­sign­ing bri­dal out­fits for the past 15 years says this wed­ding sea­son seems more fash­ion for­ward. “We are de­sign­ing bri­dal gowns with em­bel­lished jack­ets. The idea is to keep warm while main­tain­ing the stylish, new­ly­wed look”, says Gandhi, who started in Lud­hi­ana and now she has a store in Ja­land­har as well. Ac­cord­ing to her the per­fect oc­ca­sion to wear this con­tem­po­rary en­sem­ble is the wed­ding re­cep­tion. “The look is bold in sil­hou­ette, but tra­di­tional in terms of the heavy em­broi­dery. We have used rich fab­rics, in golden hues to make the out­fit look classy,” she says. The con­ven­tional, warm colours are al­ways in de­mand, but what has changed is the treat­ment they are given now, says Gandhi. “You have a out­fit with ba­sic warm colours and just a dash of a con­trast­ing shade— just one as­pect will stand out in the garment, ” she adds.

The best places to shop in Pun­jab for a wed­ding, ac­cord­ing to Gandhi, are Lud­hi­ana and Ja­land­har. “How­ever, for tra­di­tional jew­ellery, you have to head to­wards Pa­tiala. Even for Phulka­ris, Pa­tiala is a great mar­ket. TOP TIPS

DRAPE WELL Make your own fash­ion state­ment, un­der­stand your body's moves and swirls. Drapes are very hot this sea­son, do try them.

RONIKA KAND­HARI

AMIT SOOD

RONIKA KAND­HARI

AMIT SOOD

AMIT SOOD

www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

SHAILESH RAVAL/

RONIKA KAND­HARI

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