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My Big Fat Sikh Wedding

In the winter months of December and January, when the plains of North India are awash with fog and icy winds, the country's wedding season reaches full fury. The colour and vibrancy of these events - which often last for days - are increasingly becoming grandiose displays of wealth and status.

In Punjab State, home to many of the richest Indians, an entire wedding industry has been born. Armies of caterers; marquee specialists; furniture renters and movers; fashion designers; power generators; florists; tailors and musicians, all work flat out to cope with the surging demand in these cool winter months.

The venues for these grand events are spacious often out-of-town 'Farmhouses', walled acres of land that, during the season, are transformed into opulent galas of tinsel and tandoori.

Grewal Farms, on the outskirts of Amritsar, is typical of many such establishments. Wedding parties are booked night and day, hosting upwards of 800 people, and replete with valet parking, top-quality cuisine and props and backdrops worthy of a Bollywood film set.

Of course these big marquee events are only a part of the story. Often the wedding ceremony has been going on for days in advance at the family home and at various parties around town hosted by family members, all eager to out-do one another in offering lavish food and gifts. The well connected, in a small yet exuberant city such as Amritsar, will often be feted night and day throughout the entire wedding season.

Very occasionally a game foreigner will be accepted into this highly traditional society. English lass Lindsay Singh (nee Shepherd) bravely navigated the roller-coaster ride, and the story of her own Big Fat Sikh Wedding - to dashing sweetheart Navneet - is partly told here.
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