What is Sham-e-Awadh?

Sham-e-Awadh is a famous term popular for the glorious evenings of Lucknow the capital of Awadh, reverberating with the sounds of revelry of the pleasure-seekers. It was called the City of Nawabs. Lucknow’s Awadhi culture is mix of ‘Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb’ which brought together the best of the Persian and Mughal cultures of Islam and the Banarsi Raasrang of Hinduism.

Khayal, Thumri, Ghazal and Kathak flourished. The food reached epicurean heights and and Lucknow’s contribution includes the fabled Tunday Kebab, the Kakori Kebab and Biryanis along with its delicious street food. The clothes worn by the elite were works of art and their heightened aesthetics has led to the development of very fine crafts especially in textiles and perfumes (attar). The culture of Lucknow is imbued with elegance and courtesy and ‘nazakat’.

What is a Sham-e-Awadh party?

It is a party that recreates the ambience of Old Lucknow. The guests are accorded a traditional ‘Lakhnavi’ welcome with a sprinkling of Rose water or attar from a ‘gulab-pash’ and petals. Garlands for the wrist made up in sweet smelling flowers of bela, champa, chameli and gulab.

A musical soiree or a ‘baithak’ or a sher-o-shayari evening would be perfect. If that is not possible then play classical thumris, kajris, dadras, ghazals. Or have an antakshari, if you want to add a bit of fun to the evening.

What kind of clothes should be worn?

Seema Sahai
Typically women should wear either the churidar kurta, made in the traditional Lakhnavi style or a sharara, gharara, ghagra, the full gathered skirt, or the lehnga which is in a bias cut. These can be teamed with kurtis and sheer ‘odhnis or ‘dupattas’, embellished with ‘gota and kiran’ and ‘tille-ka-kaam’.

They should wear heavy traditional kundan jewelry, bangles, thumb rings or aarsi, anklets and toe rings and use flower garlands for the hair and wrists.

Men should be attired in achkan, sherwani, chikankari kurtas teamed with churidars or the ‘khalta pyjamas’, the loose pajamas worn at that time. A ‘rumaal’ ‘chadar’ or shawl should be draped around the shoulders. Headwear is a must and there were several types of ‘topis’ that were worn at that time. Men also wore jewelry so they could wear it for added effect.

A good source of inspiration for authentic Awadhi clothes and jewelry are the movies, such as Shatranj ke Khiladi or Umrao Jaan directed by Muzaffar Ali.

What is the décor for a Sham-e-Awadh Party?

The room should be lit with ornate lamps and chandeliers in the Awadhi style with candles or regular oil lamps. Floor or low seating with masnads and rich silk throws would give the opulent look of the time. Accessorize the room with gulab paash, hookahs, paan-dans, pik-dans, bowls of chameli and champa placed on occasional tables. Serve the drinks from a traditional pitcher into goblets to complete the Awadhi picture! You can always add to this with other accessories like hand fans, supari cutters in the paan-dan and so on.

What should be the menu?

Hara Tava Kebab/Arvi Ke Kakori
Kakori Kabab/ Shami Kebab

Main Course
Lucknavi Murgh Biryani,
Khhumb Biryani Or Chana Biryani,
Mutton Chap,
Gobhi Mussalam,
Paneer Chandani,
Mutton Korma,
Murgh mussalam,
Bakarkhani, Roomali Or Sheermal

Makhane ki kheer
After dinner you must serve paan, assorted meethi suparis and saunf. If you have a Paan-dan use it to great effect! Serve the paans in a gilori–dan.

Regular drinks from the bar will do. Just serve it in the Awadhi style. You can serve khus, thandai, roohafza also.

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