In Punjabi Weddings, the groom is generally accompanied by a little boy dressed in identical clothes. He is the groom’s associate who accompanies him throughout the wedding, starting with the Baraat.
Sarbala is a common tradition in Hindu weddings in North India. It is a part of Muslim and Sikh weddings too.
Shahbala in Urdu.
When this happens?
Only on the Wedding Day. This was originally used to camouflage the Groom to protect him from being attacked by Robbers or Dacoits en route to get his Bride.
Who can play this role?
Sarbala is generally the groom’s nephew. If the groom has no nephew, then a cousin can also be the Sarbala.
Image Courtesy: TejesNayakPhotography
In the olden days, while the baraat was on the way to the bride’s village, they would be attacked by dacoits to rob the wedding procession of its valuables. Therefore, the concept of Sarbala was introduced to assure the groom’s safety. The tradition continues till date, without having any practical use.
As times have changed, the Sarbalas have turned younger. Whereas, during the olden days grown-up men were involved and were expected to ensure a safe baraat and wedding. This word is derived from Sanskrit. But no references speak of the specific Sanskrit roots or detail its origin.
Sarbala is dressed in the same attire as the groom. Therefore, said to be a miniature version of the groom. Some prefer this in their wedding receptions too.