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Sikh women celebrate their past and present in a 3-day 'theean' festival.

The end of the monsoon season has come to the Indian state of Punjab, and for Sikh women, the time calls for a modest festival where they can sing, dance and laugh about the pressures that paint their lives.

The tradition, born out of the constraints of arranged marriage, gave Sikh women a chance to vent about extended families they marry into while celebrating the bond they share as women.

Last weekend, as they have done for the past two years, Sikh women in the Central valley re-created the "theean"...Men of course are prohibited...

At the heart of the event are the "bolis" and "giddas," folk songs and dances, respectively, which depict the frustrations in their daily lives.

Rows of women form circles, in the center of which a women will come forth to sing a boli...The verses are short, but they usually gossip or complain about a relationship in their lives: mother-in-law, a husband, sisters-in-law or anyone else.

The surrounding women, roaring in laughter, repeat the boli, prompting the initial women to start dancing and then be joined by others.

On a Sunday evening, a woman wearing a green "salvar kameez" wrapped a shawl around her forehead to look like her turbaned husband and sang her boli. Translated into English:

"I am a smart lady but look at my husband: he's like a baby."

The women, ranging from old women to little girls, burst into laughter, and the woman proceed to dance, sucking her thumb and innocently rolling her eyes.

"There laughing about it now, I guess, which they can't in real life,"...

Generations earlier and continents away, theeans fulfilled a deep need that their arranged marriages didn't permit...

When Sikh women got married, they were forced to move to their husband's village...And the only time they were allowed to return home was for these 15 days during Sikh month of "Sawan,"...

"They were not allowed to complain in their in-laws' home,"..."They had no right to speak aloud."

A woman pretended to be a bride pleading for her husband to buy her a piece of jewelry... The bride intended to use the jewelry as a dowry to get her mother-in-law married into a new family - far away....

"We're worry-free for the moment."




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