App e n d i x 1
Wedding Invitations
There was a remarkable range of experimentation in the production of wed-
ding invitation cards during the late nineteenth and early twentieth cen-
turies. Invitation cards were not an invention of this period, but they did
not feature as prominently in wedding paraphernalia in the precolonial and
early colonial era as they did later. In the earlier period we come across a
different kind of document that announced the particulars of the wedding.
Referred to as sambandhapatra or lagnapatra, these were akin to marriage
deeds containing the formal announcement of a wedding. They included the
date of the forthcoming wedding, the amount of money promised by the
bridal family to the groom’s, and the names of witnesses before whom
the document was signed.1 Interestingly, the practice of writing sambandha-
patras, extant even in the 1950s, is now almost defunct. I reproduce here a
sambandhapatra from the 1950s (Figure 27) collected during my research
in Calcutta.
The reasons for the obsolescence of these documents are not hard to
fathom. Given the ongoing commercialization and legalization of Hindu
marriages under British rule and into the postcolonial period, the assur-
ances, both financial and communal, held out in the sambandhapatras must
have been seen as superfluous. The documents appear to have assumed a
purely ritualistic character over time. In an earlier period they were usually
written before an audience of community elders after the betrothal, or be-
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