Bob and meTonight my girlfriend and I have been at the Sehra Bandi of my friend and business partner Bob.

Bob – his real name is Chanan Singh – is a Punjabi Sikh whose parents moved to Thailand during the civil unrest in their home after Punjab was split into an Indian and Pakistani part after Britain’s occupation of India had ended. Sikhs nowadays live in many countries of the world.

The Sehra Bandi is part of the traditional Sikh wedding ceremony and is a night for the groom and his family. You could call it his last night as a bachelor. One night before the groom’s Sehra Bandi takes place, the bride will have her own celebration with her family and friends. The day after the Sehra Bandi, the actual wedding ceremony – called Anand Karaj – is held at a temple.

The Hotel\'s DecorationTo me the Sehra Bandi was an impressive and fun event, held at the Holiday Inn Silom in Bangkok. Bob arrived at the hotel, wearing a long ornated red robe and a sword. He was followed by most of his guests. When most of his guests had arrived, a ceremony was held in which one member of the community prayed on the stage together with around 20 of the male guests. Then a veil of flowers was attached to Bob’s head – the so-called Sehra. A similar Sehra was given to a young boy who is selected from the groom’s family, which is for good luck, as I’ve learned. Photo Session with BobAfter this the actual ceremony was finished and all the guests came to the stage to present their gifts to Bob and took pictures with the groom.

Also, the buffet was opened. It consisted of vegetarian Indian food, served with rice and roti. In addition, the international guests could indulge in salad and some Thai food. As dessert they served small Western-style cakes and eclairs plus a very sweet Indian dessert, the taste of which reminded me of Turkish Baklava.

Sweet Sweet PunjabThe buffet was the first part of the fun, but it got better. After a slideshow of photos representing every stage in Bob’s life (seems to be inevitable in all wedding parties all over the world), Bob’s friends took to the stage and gave their best – dancing, acting, lip-singing – you name it. It was hilarious and a very enjoyable show to watch. Very different from Thai style wedding parties.

We left the party around 23 h, which is later than such parties normally end in Thailand. Nevertheless, quite a few people were still there, dancing and talking. Tomorrow we will join the actual wedding ceremony, the Anand Karaj.

Read more about Sehra Bandi and Sikh culture:
Chip Bennett’s Blog
Younghong Cho’s Gallery
Wikipedia on Sikhism