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Synonymous use of "larki" and "gori" in Punjabi culture.

So recently my cousin got married and we were preparing dholki songs which I have been listening to for years but never really pondered upon the lyrics. This time I did so and one thing bothered me a lot. Not one but several songs refer to the girls as gori. The obsession with fair conplexion and the expectation that a girl SHOULD be fair is so much instilled in our culture that we casually call them gori. Here are some songs and their translations that are in my mind right now.

One of them, a famous one, goes like:

~Mehndi laga ke rakhna, doli saja ke rakhna

Lene tujhe o gori ayen ge tere sajna

~ مہندی لگا کے رکھنا، ڈولی سجا کے رکھنا

لینے تجھے او گوری آئیں گے تیرے سجنا

Translation: "Keep mehndi (henna) applied, keep the wedding carriage decorated

To take you, oh fair one, your lover will come"

Like why gori?! Why? She could be called literally anything, a beautiful girl, a bride, etc. but why gori?!

Another one is a song from a Pakistani serial named Mehndi, it's chorus goes like this:

~Gori kare tu singhar, gori kare tu singhar

~گوری کرے تو سنگھار، گوری کرے تو سنگھار

Translation: "You beautify yourself, o fair girl"

Again what's the purpose of calling her a gori? Can't she do singhar if she isn't a gori?!

Not only the bride but the bridesmaids are also refered as gorio in another famous song:

~Zara dholki bajao goriyo, mere sang sang gao goriyo

Sharmao na laga ke mehndi. Zara taaliyan bajao goriyo

~ذرا ڈھولکی بجاؤ گوریو، میرے سنگ سنگ گاؤ گوریو

شرماؤ نہ لگا کے مہندی، ذرا تالیاں بجاؤ گوریو

Translation: "Play the dholak fair girls, sing along me fair girls

Don't be shy after applying mehndi (henna), clap your hands fair girls"

On the other hand, boys are never called goray, instead, in another mehndi song the bride takes pride in her husband for not being fair and even demeans the fair boys!

~Kala shah kala, mera kala hai sardar goriaan nu dafa karo

Haye goray mann ke kaale, goriyan nu dafa karo

~کالا شاہ کالا، میرا کالا ہے دلدار، گوریاں نوں دفعہ کرو

ہائے گورے من کے کالے، گوریاں نوں دفعہ کرو

Translation: "My beloved is black (dark-skinned), so let the faur ines get lost

The fair ones are black hearted, so let them get lost"

Although, they are just some songs but they are surely a representation of a bigger problem that is our obsession with the fair complexion for girls especially. Unfortunately, even in this day and date, this thinking exists and it destroys the self esteem of several beautiful women.

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