Notes on Culture & Antique Art, Ethnic Decor & Vintage Fashion | Wovensouls Art Gallery

A Wedding ‘Muklawa’ Scene in a Textile

The term ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’ has been coined in the recent times. But it has existed for decades.

Even in families with limited means, a wedding supercedes all other life events in priority.

It marks the end of one life stage and the beginning of another. For not just the bride & groom but also the others in the family.

The father of the bride has discharged his duty to his ancestors and to his own immediate family and that brings a sense of fulfillment.

But at the same time he is distraught that the daughter he has raised under his own protective wings will now be exposed to the dynamics of a new family which he has no control over.

And so with a heavy heart he conducts the ceremony of Vidai or Parting that is known as Muklawa in Punjabi.

In the olden days, when marriages took place between children, the Vidai did not take place at the time of the wedding. It was postponed until the girl grew up to be 13 or so. Then another ceremony of Vidai was arranged which was smaller than the wedding itself.

When the groom’s family finally leaves with their new daughter-in-law, the last steps that she takes out of the home that is now no longer her own – the tearful good-byes take place.

The two families might live in the same neighborhood – so the reason for tears is not the distance. It is the change of status – from that of a daughter to a daughter-in-law and everything that this entails that causes the pain.

The parents lament because they know exactly what this means – the end of a carefree childhood and the onset of the unending responsibilities of adulthood. And the bride laments because that is the moment it strikes her that she is finally leaving behind everything she has ever known – her lifestyle, her friends and her family.

There are dozens of folk wedding songs that I have myself heard in Hindi and Gujarati – and am certain there are dozens more in each of the languages of India. A large number of these focus on the Vidai – perhaps to make prepare everyone for the inevitable heartbreak or perhaps to make it easier to bear it through song.

So the Vidai is a significant event in all Indian Lives (unless one elopes!).

And so it is not surprising to find it documented in a Phulkari textile.

Here are some photos:

The first is a picture of the groom looking all dandy in waistbelt, neck scarf and pugg.

antique vintage phulkari bagh traditional Indian textile embroidery silk

And the next picture is the scene of the Vidai

antique vintage phulkari bagh traditional Indian textile embroidery silk

Here we have the beautiful maiden with her large wedding earrings waving goodbye to her beloved father (also dressed in a fine neck scarf and a pugg) who walks her out as far as he can. The mother remains at the gate of their home and can be seen at a distance.

Note the Ghunghat or Wedding Shawl – probably a Phulkari – that is draped over the bride’s head.

I have often found scenes of social practices embroidered into our Phulkaris …and this is one more example of such work.

Here is the rest of the textile – the lovely old Darshan Dwar Asset 808.

antique vintage phulkari bagh traditional Indian textile embroidery silk

And so once again a textile delights me with the story embedded into it.

I’ve had this for a couple of years … but it is only today that I looked at it carefully enough to connect the dots and realise what it is that I have been seeing all this while!

A Eureka moment!

More of this Asset 808 can be seen here.




One comment on “A Wedding ‘Muklawa’ Scene in a Textile

  1. Elisabeth G Khan
    July 5, 2020

    Another phulkari treasure with a wonderful story attached! Thank you for sharing!

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This entry was posted on July 4, 2020 by in Art Kaleidoscope, Culture Kaleidoscope, FESTIVALS & CEREMONIES and tagged , , , , .



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