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Wedding rings fall silent as the 50-strong visitor reaches the store

No orders for more than two months; 20,000 musicians across Punjab are struggling to survive

By Vishal Joshi | Hindustan Times, Bathinda, Bathinda

UPDATED MAY 30, 2020, 12:18 AM

Bagpiper Mohan Pandey is a concerned man as his team hasn’t received an assignment to play musical instruments at wedding parties in the past two months. His family of five could soon have trouble arranging their own meals and their savings would run out quickly. A marching band team consists of 15 to 20 people, including musicians, mare leaders and people who wear lights with barat or wedding procession. A bagpipe band has nine musicians, including trumpeters and a ring leader.

With the coronavirus outbreak, marriages are now a low key affair with few close family members in attendance and the center having a gathering of fewer than 50 people.

Pandey’s team leader Balbir Singh said, “Our band received assignments from the Malwa area and we often visited Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to play instruments at weddings. Every year between April and July we received at least 15 invitations a month. However, this year people want us to return the money taken in advance. We are helpless. ”

Singh, who is also chairman of the Union of Punjab Bagpipers, said there are about 100 bands in the state. Traditionally, the post-harvest season started in April, when a significant portion of the rural population celebrated marriages. “More than 20,000 musicians, including the dholis, members of bagpipe and marching bands in the state, are struggling for a living,” he said.

Another musician, Avtar Singh, said: “Bagpipers and marching bands are usually very popular after Shobha Yatras at gurpurbs and religious occasions for Hindus. We were also regularly invited to the Gangaur Festival and Jain Festival by Rajasthani customers. This year there has been no customer call for weeks. “

For a small business owner like Pappu in Sirinda Bazar in Bathinda, the lockdown is also a blow to his business. “I have to sell one of my four mares because nobody orders wagons or mares for marriages. The daily diet cost for a mare is Rs 500 and I cannot cover it with no income. Band players should be exempted from the 50 guest limit at weddings, ”he said.

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