Punjabi marriages are known for their pomp and show. Punjabi weddings are quite fun, and are conducted lavishly. There are a number of fun filled rituals, which are performed before and after the wedding.
Pre Wedding Rituals
The first ritual is the Roka ceremony where the families and friends come give presents, money and blessings to the groom and bride to be. In an arranged marriage norm, this is a ceremony through which the parents let out the world that their look out for a match for their child has come to an end. The next ritual is Sagan which is either arranged by the groom’s side. The father of the bride applies tilak on the groom’s forehead and offers him gifts and sweets. The tikka ceremony may be combined with the engagement. First, the girl is draped with a chunni, which is usually very ornate. In some families this chunni is a family heirloom, passed down from generation to generation. She is also presented with jewellery. A tiny dot of henna paste (mehndi) is applied to her palm for good luck, and the function is sealed with the exchange of rings.
Few days before marriage, the Sangeet ceremony takes place, in which the female members of the family sing and dance to celebrate the occasion. Just before marriage, Mehndi ceremony takes place. In this, the sister and brother-in-law of the groom take mehndi to bride’s place. This mehndi is applied to the bride’s hands and feet. They also give dry fruits and dates, half of which are consumed by the bride and the other half by the groom.
Lamps or diyas are lit and the bride is made to sit facing them. Oil is constantly poured into the lamps, so that the glow from diyas is reflected on the bride’s face. A paste made from turmeric powder and mustard oil is applied all over the girl’s body by her female friends and relatives. This is done to make the girl look more beautiful on the special day of our life. After this ritual, bride and groom are constrained from meeting each other until the wedding ceremony.
Bhabhis ring holy water from the temple for the bath on the wedding day. This ceremony takes place simultaneously at both the groom and brides house.
The first ceremony at bride’s house on the day of the wedding is the Chura cermeony. The oldest maternal uncle and aunt play an important role in the performance of the ceremony. Chura is basically a set of red and cream ivory bangles, the girl does not see the chura until she is ready for the marriage. At groom’s house, a flower veil is tied on the groom’s forehead after which he sits on the horse. These are called Sehrabandi & Ghodi Chadna rituals.
Milni means “Introductions”. In a Sikh marriage, Ardas is performed by the person in charge of looking after the Sikh scriptures, followed by the formal introductions of senior men in the families. For example, both eldest chachas come together and exchange garlands of flowers. In the Milni ceremony, the girl’s relatives give shagun to the groom’s relatives.
After Milni, the bride and groom place a heavy garland made of flowers- varmala on each other to state, they accept each other and will love and live together with one and other. After this, they are taken to the mandap, where the father of the bride performs Kanyadaan. This is followed by Mangalpheras in presence of the sacred fire.
After this the groom applies Sindoor (vermilion) to the girl’s hair partition and the Mangalsutra Rasam takes place where the groom ties a beaded necklace i.e. a mangalsutra to the girl’s neck. When all these rituals are over, the couple takes blessings from the elders in the family for a happily married life. In a Hindu Punjabi Wedding, Agni (sacred fire) is usually encircled seven times.
In a Sikh wedding, the bride and groom walk around the Guru Granth Sahib four times, called laavaan. This signifies they not only accept each other as one soul in two bodies, but also as the Guru as the center of their marriage.
Post Wedding Rituals
Vidaai marks the departure of the bride from her parental house. As a custom, the bride throws puffed rice over her head. The ritual conveys her good wishes for her parents. The bride now says goodbye to her parents, siblings and rest of her family. Her brothers/male cousins then lead her to her husband, who waits to take her to his family home to begin her new life as a married woman. Her relatives throw coins in the wake of this procession. In keeping with tradition the mother in-law will often not come to the Doli and instead make preparations at home to greet the arrival of her son and new wife. The mother-in-law has a glass of water in her hand, which she circles 3 times around her bahu and then offers it to her to drink, as a symbol of her acceptance and blessing as her newest daughter.
Reception at the boy’s house The newly weds are welcomed in a ceremony called the pani bharna. Then the bride kick the mustard oil that is put on the sides of the entrance door before she enters the house.