Bhaat-Nyotna: Performance unique to Community

When I was prompted to think about performing arts unique to my community/region. I began by ruminating over three words- performing arts, my community and my region. My region is Delhi, the kind of Delhi where the middle classes live in gated colonies. The kind of Delhi that is all about travelling by metro. This is the region I identify the most with. The community that is closest to me is my family and friends.

The scope of performing arts in my imagination is wide and open-hearted. For me, all acts of living somehow fall into the category of performance. For the dance that is life, music comes from the sounds of the city, its people and the beats/rhythms of the body. However, when zooming into a deliberate act of performing arts Dances and geet associated with rituals of marriages have the strongest impact on my memory. Three major events of societal life (Birth, marriage and death) come with their own rituals and group processions to wells, temples and other places of significance. Women of the family and neighbourhood are generally the ones who do these and occupy the streets.

The following scenes are from a marriage-related ceremony called Bhaat Nyotna. Bhaat means feast and Nyotna means to invite. This is a pre-wedding ritual that is prominent in weddings in North India, especially in regions of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. This ceremony requires the bride’s/groom’s mother to visit her brother and invite him to her kid’s wedding. She pokes her brother and his wife to spend lavishly on her kid’s wedding. The geet sung during this ritual is filled with unusual things being said by a sister to her brother to tease him and thus convince him to help her make the wedding a successful event by contributing more share into it. One of the songs is about a sister giving her brother the idea to rob and steal but ensuring that he brings sufficient money for the wedding.