They say you know someone is a Punjabi when their party catering for 100 people can actually feed 500 people, they are willing to do the bhangra everywhere they go (except the Gurdwara) and they call people they don’t know ‘uncle’ and ‘aunty’. And when you imagine a whole load of such people together, you can expect nothing less than fun, excitement and noise. In short, a big fat Punjabi wedding.
Elaborate in nature, one with many rituals, music and dance, Punjabi weddings are extremely reflective of the culture. We take you through the journey of these beautiful rituals that will help you manage your preparations for a Punjabi wedding.
Takha – The couple make a promise to wed each other and this promise is sealed with a prayer and exchange of gifts. From this point no other matrimonial offers shall be received for the girl or the boy.
Shagun – Translated as engagement, in this ceremony the girl’s family confirms this relationship between the couple. This is celebrated with the boy’s family receiving gifts and jewellery.
Rokka ‐- An official engagement is held to seek the blessings of family and friends. At this ceremony, the to‐be‐bride receives a very significant part of her wedding day jewellery, the nose ring, popularly known as the ‘nath’ by her mother’s brother.
Sagai ‐- This is the formal engagement ceremony which takes place at the groom’s house. An important part of this ceremony is the ‘tikka’ ritual wherein ‘tikka’ is smeared on the boy’s forehead by the girl’s. At the ceremony, the boy’s mother drapes the girl with an ornate piece of fabric called the ‘chunni’ which is usually referred to as a stole in the Western world and a dot of ‘henna’, a dye used to temporarily tattoo designs on the hands of a bride, is applied to her palms. This is applied to wish the bride good luck. The couple exchange their rings and receive congratulatory messages.
Sangeet – Translated as music, this ceremony is a an equivalent to the Western bridal shower. The female family and friends of the to‐be‐bride gather for an evening of traditional music and dancing while they play the Indian instrument, ‘dholki’. Over the years, this has been modernized with a DJ belting out commercial music.
Mehendi – Prior to her wedding, beautiful designs are tattooed on the hands and feet of the bride to be in order to beautify her for the big day. As per customs, the ‘mehendi’ is sent by the boy’s mother.
The ‘mehendi’ marks the end of the pre‐wedding rituals and the wedding ceremonies begin. A set of rituals are followed in the bride and groom’s homes before they get together for the wedding ceremony.
Haldi – Wedding preparations begin with the bride being beautified with the application of a paste of turmeric and mustard oil. Post this ritual, the bride and groom are not allowed to meet each other until the wedding day.
Chuda – On the actual wedding day, all family members touch a set of red and cream‐ivory bangles which will be presented by the uncle to the bride. This will be worn by the bride as part of her wedding attire but she does not see these bangles until she is dressed up for her wedding. Close family and friends tie gold plated dangling ornaments called ‘kaliras’ to a bangle on each wrist.
Ghodi charna – Once the groom is dressed and has been protected from evil, he is set for the final ceremony which is ‘getting on the horse’. The groom makes his way to the wedding venue on a horse that has been fed and adorned by his sisters and cousins.
After a series of rituals in both homes, the wedding ceremony takes place at either the temple, gurdwara or a generic wedding venue.
Varmala – After these introductions, the bride and groom meet for the exchange of the garland of flowers. This ceremony signifies the acceptance and love they have towards each other while stating that from hereon they will live with each other. While both the families tease the couple and an atmosphere of fun and frolic is built, an auspicious time is chosen for the wedding ceremony.
Kanyadaan – As per Indian traditions, a father gives away his daughter at the time of marriage. In order to get his daughter married he first places a ring on the groom’s finger after which the actual wedding ceremony can begin.
Phere ‐- The main part of a Hindu wedding is the circum-ambulations which take place in front of a sacred fire. The fire in a Hindu wedding is generally encircled even times after which the bride and groom are pronounced husband and wife. The groom applies red vermilion powder to the centre of the bride’s head and then wears her a black and gold beaded necklace called the ‘mangalsutra’, both which are the identity of a married Hindu woman.
Joota Chupai – While the ceremonies are being performed, the bride’s sisters and friends indulge in a tradition of stealing the groom’s shoes. In order to give him back his shoes so he can go home with his bride, the groom generally has to pay a price. This is usually in the form of gold rings for the bride’s sisters and silver rings for the cousins.
Vidaai – Once married, the bride departs her parents home throwing puffed rice over her head. Accompanied by her brothers, she makes her way to her new home.At her husband’s house, she is welcomed by her mother in law who circles a glass of water thrice around the head of her daughter in law before welcoming her in.
Pani bharna – The girl then steps in to her new home by using her right foot to knock a vessel filled with mustard oil which has been placed at the entrance. This is followed by a prayer offered by the couple in their room and blessings taken from the elders.
This brings them to the end of the wedding rituals and to the start of a new life filled with love, happiness and health for both.
Phere dalna – The following day, the bride’s brother picks the newly wed couple and takes them to the bride’s house so the couple can spend a day with her parents.