I’ve had Mehndi/Madhorama Pencha in my music collection for a while now and have always loved the joyfulness of it. The percussive clapping and the freewheeling female vocals always inspire me to move. It wasn’t until after the wedding I attended in Kolkata that I found out that mehndi is the application of henna and there are whole wedding festivities centered around it. And it was only after I looked up the song for this post that I found out that it is a Punjabi folk song and the version of it I have is from the movie, Monsoon Wedding. Though the song is Punjabi, and the wedding I attended was Bengali, it seemed like an appropriate song to share before I get into talking about the sights and sounds of a four day Indian wedding.
After watching the video, the scene is exactly what I expected after hearing the song many many times. But I couldn’t get behind the lyrics. They are obviously sung in jest, but to me, they come across as chauvinistic. The man has his pick, and the “fair woman” is the chosen one for seemingly no other reason than being light skinned. That’s the thing with world music, you can really get into a song based on the sounds, and then sometimes the lyrics disappoint you. I have yet to see Monsoon Wedding, but I really want to. It seems to cover a variety of gender and relationship issues that are common in India and I’m curious to see how it approaches them.
What are your thoughts on the lyrics of this song?