Ladies, and gents, I’m sounding an alarm bell: our generation is at risk of losing our rich cultural traditions. How so? This past weekend I was at a dholki (pre-wedding event where you play the traditional drum and sing wedding folk songs). An aside, this is what I wore, another outfit from Chinyere, the same one that I wore to my own dolki in Pakistan last year, with the kussas (shoes) I wore on my mehndi, from Kussa Mahal in Liberty, Lahore, costume earrings from Shabi’s in Richmond Hill, costume jhummar (that piece of jewelry I’m wearing on the side) that my Khala sent me from Karachi, and a purse my sass (mother-in-law) gave me as part of my wari (trousseau gifted to the bride from the groom’s family)!
And at this dholki, not one of the twenty of us twenty-somethings knew the words to one full song, and only one person knew how to play the actual dolak itself! And that is a problem.
Sure, we could start “Lathay Di Chadar Uthay Salayti Rang Maaiya Ao Samne Ao Samne Gholo Di Uske Na Rang Maaiya”…But what comes after that? Ok ok, how about “o kala shah kala…” Wait, but then what? And so on, and so forth until our voices fizzled enough that we had to resign ourselves to finding a youtube play list!
If we don’t learn these songs from our mamas, khalas, phupos, chachis, mamanis (basically all the female aunts, as typically it was women who sang these songs, even though nowadays both girls and guys give it their best efforts), then what are our own children’s wedding functions going to look like, when they’re not around to drown out our unsure voices? How will we keep our rich traditions alive?
I grew up in a really small town in Canada where I was literally the only South Asian kid in my class…Every. Single. Year. I never had the opportunity to attend dolkis because there was just no community around us and so I was never exposed to these songs, in fact the first time I had ever heard any of these songs was when my cousins sang them perfectly at my own dolki in Pakistan! So now when I attend dholkis with people who were surrounded with large desi communities, and who grew up singing these songs on the regular…and they don’t even know the words, I can’t help but think what chances do we have to preserve it?!
Having song booklets to learn the words help! Here’s one that you can download that my sis-in-law sent me: Songs Booklet! My BFPW tip: when you have them printed for your dholkis/mayoun/mehndis, have them printed on bright yellow paper – it will blend into the decor and look so much more festive than plain white sheets!
Be sure to look out for my Punjabi song booklet next post! (I know, this one doesn’t even have the classics like Chitti kukar! Hehe 😉 ) What classic songs would you add to your song book?!