Punjabi weddings are well-known for their splendour and flashiness. They are organised lavishly and celebrated with full vivacity. To rejoice the Punjabi wedding, there are numerous rituals which are performed before and after the wedding. These customs at times, seem to be just an excuse to celebrate and have fun.
The important Punjabi wedding rituals in the order of their occurrence in a wedding are mentioned below:
Pre Wedding Rituals in Punjabi Wedding
This is the first ritual which is conducted on a mutually suitable chosen date to secure the commitment from both the families. The function is attended by family members and very close friends for mainly exchanging cash and gifts. Some families opt to begin the ceremony with a small puja or ardaas, to mark the first step towards the wedding. The ceremony represents the beginning of a relationship between two families, who will then discuss a wedding date.
This ceremony mostly takes place at the groom’s house. “Havan” is performed and the girl’s father applies the tikka on the boy’s forehead who takes the blessings from the bride’s family members. All the friends and relatives present in the function offers sweets to the boy.
This ceremony is often referred to as the official engagement. On this occasion, the groom’s family visit the bride’s house or venue to present a red “chunni” or a red sari to the bride. The boy’s family bring gifts including sweets, dry fruit and a complete attire for the girl. The girl is dressed in the clothes given by her in-laws and brought where all the guests have congregated. The groom’s mother gives gifts and adorns her daughter-in-law with jewellery. It is known as chunni chadana ceremony because the boy’s mother will put the chunni on the girl’s head to dress her like a bride. The boy and girl exchange rings and the girl receive the gifts from all the relatives from the groom’s side.
In India, mehndi is applied by women on my festivals and occasions as it is considered as auspicious and a symbol of celebration. Mehndi ceremony is one of the exciting wedding rituals in which mehndi sent by the groom’s family is applied on the bride’s hands and feet by professional mehndi artists. In some communities, mehndi is applied to both bride and groom.
It is one of the most interesting and entertaining occasions of the wedding ceremony in which the full excitement for the Big Day is expressed through dance and song. One day is fixed for special sangeet ceremony which is attended and celebrated by both the sides together.
Photo by josh-rodriguez
Wedding day rituals at Girl’s house
This ceremony takes place on the wedding day. In this ritual, puja is performed by a priest and the oldest maternal uncle of the bride plays a very important role. A set of red and cream ivory bangles dipped in milk is touched and blessed by all the relatives present. It is then put on the bride’s hands by the maternal uncle. Once the chuda is worn, all friends, cousins and relatives tie kaleeras on the bride’s wrists.
This ceremony mostly follows the chuda ceremony in which the bride is made to sit facing four diyas. Female friends and cousins apply a paste made of mustard oil and turmeric also known as vatna on the bride’s body. The same ceremony is performed at the groom’s place as well.
After the completion of the vatna ceremony, the relatives, family members and friends visit the nearby temple to fill a pitcher full of holy water. This ritual is also carried out at the bridegroom’s house. After having a bath in this holy water, both the bride and bridegroom go off to get ready for the main wedding.
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Wedding day rituals at Boy’s house
A significant ritual for the groom, the Sehrabandi involves a Pooja during which the sisters tie a sehra across the groom’s turban to cover his face. This is done to ward off the evil eye and maintain anticipation for the wedding guests to see the groom. Most of the families also put kalgi, a turban pin which was traditionally considered a majestic jewel worn on the turban.
After the Sehrabandi ritual, the ghodi chadna custom is accompanied by the sisters feeding the mare on which the groom heads for the wedding venue. The bhabhi puts surma in the groom’s eyes to wave off all evil coming near the charming bridegroom.
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Rituals at the wedding venue
The baraat is welcomed by the bride’s relatives and parents. Both the families gather together for the milni which is actually a formal introduction of key relatives from each family. Before the actual milni begins, ardaas is done and the relatives of the bride are introduced to the corresponding relatives of the groom. Like the maternal uncle of the bride hugs and meets the maternal uncle of the groom and so on.
The groom on entering the venue is taken to a raised stage where he sits and waits for the bride. Garlands are exchanged once the bride arrives, and this is a ceremony that involves a lot of teasing and fun.
This is the part of the wedding that stamps the marriage. In this, the couple takes four rounds of the sacred fire. The bride’s father tie the palla to the bride’s wrist. It symbolises the father giving her daughter away. After the pheras the groom puts sindoor and mangal sutra; two signs of a married Indian woman.
After the pheras, the bride and groom are seated together and the bride’s parents usually give a gift to both of them. A bowl of rice is held in front of the bride from which she throws the handful of it behind her. This indicates her declaration that she is leaving her paternal home and taking nothing with her. Each relative bid farewell and the bride’s brother accompany her to the groom’s house. As the wedding car departs, the groom’s father throws coins ahead of the car.
Photo by Anuj Biyani
Punjabi wedding rituals are a traditional extravaganza and Punjabis follow customs which are truly unique in nature. Thus, Punjabi wedding is arguably the one with the greatest fun.