A traditional Punjabi wedding is an event to look
forward to, whether you are involved in it as a bride, a groom, or as a guest.
The ceremonies and rituals are lavish, and each is a sweet excuse for fun,
frolic and festivity.
Be warned: The merry-making is absolutely infectious. On the flip side, if
you're used to being a wall-flower at weddings, go ahead and attend a Punjabi
one. You just might emerge a flamboyant person.
|The Roka ceremony is conducted after the
prospective bride and groom have met and approved each other. The significance
of the ceremony is akin to an engagement where the boy and girl give their
commitment to get married to each other. After this ceremony they are free to
court each other. The Roka is performed at the house of the bride-to-be. So the
family and relatives of the prospective groom must go to her house for the
ceremony. The ceremony consists of a simple puja that is conducted by a
purohit, followed by an exchange of gifts between the two families.
and Chunni Chadana
|The wedding celebrations begin with the
tikka or sagan ceremony, held a week to ten days before the wedding
(depending on the number of functions to follow) in which the family of the
girl visits that of the boy's carrying beautifully wrapped gifts and the tikka
material: a silver tray with a few grains of rice and saffron in a tiny silver
bowl, 14 chuharey (dried dates) covered with silver foil and a coconut wrapped
in a gold leaf. The father of the girl applies 'tikka' on his son-in-law's
forehead and gives him his blessings and some money. In return, the girl's
family receives baskets of seven dried fruits: almonds, cashewnuts, chuahara,
coconut pieces, raisins, khurman (dried apricots) and phoolmakhana, at the
kudmai (sagai or engagement). Nowadays the tikka ceremony is usually combined
with the engagement. First, the girl is draped with a chunni (stole), 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, which
her mother and sister-in-law help her wear. A tiny dot of mehendi is applied to
her palm for good luck, and the function is sealed with the exchange of rings.
Everyone present congratulates the couple by feeding them sweet.
|Besides the festivity and frolic that
mark the days leading up to the wedding, the families of the prospective bride
and groom hold a special sangeet (singing) session. Friends and close family
members are invited and traditional wedding songs are sung. Sometimes
professional dholwalis (female musicians who play the traditional drum) are
invited for a special touch. Both the sides exchange gifts and sweets.
|It is mandatory for the bride-to-be to
have henna on her hands and feet. The henna is sent by the future mother-in-law
of the bride-to-be. A relative, friend or a professional mehandiwali (henna
artist) applies henna for the bride-to-be. The ritual is marked by festivity.
The girl friends and close female relatives of the bride-to-be sing and dance
joyously while the mehandi is being applied to her. The henna is usually left
on overnight so that it leaves behind a rich dark hue. After the application
ceremony, delicious snacks and meals are served to all present.
|The maternal uncle of the bride-to-be
plays an important role in this ceremony. The oldest maternal uncle and aunt as
well as the girl's parents usually fast throughout the day, or at least until
the completion of this ceremony. The purohit performs a havan. After the puja,
the chuda (a set of red and cream ivory bangles) are touched by all present to
signify their blessings and good wishes for the bride-to-be. The bride must
slip the chuda on her wrist. This is followed by an iron bangle (for good luck)
with shells and beads, and a mauli that the pandit ties around her wrist.
Flower petals are showered on the girl after the ceremony and prasad (food that
has been offered to God or blessed during a puja) is distributed among all. The
girl's maternal uncle and aunt, friends and cousins tie kaliras (silver, gold
or gold plated traditional ornaments that are tied to the chuda). Before
departing for her husband's home, the bride must tap one of her unwed female
friends or cousins with her kaliras. According to popular belief, the one who
is tapped thus will be the next one to marry.
Ghardoli and Vatna
|This ritual demands that the bride-to-be
stay at home in her old clothes for a couple of days before her wedding. She
must sit in the vicinity of four lit diyas or oil lamps so that the glow from
them is reflected on her face. All these measures are believed to contribute to
a beautiful glowing look on her wedding day. A sibling and the sibling's spouse
usually fill a pitcher of water from a nearby temple and this water is added to
the bath of the bride-to-be. Before her bath, vatna or uptan (a paste of
powdered turmeric and mustard oil) is applied on her body by female relatives
and friends. The uptan is believed to have purifying properties. She is given a
bath after this ritual and her old garments are given away to a poor person.
Both, the ghara ghardoli and the vatna ceremonies are also performed for the
groom at his house. Here the pitcher of water is brought for his bath by his
bhabi (elder brother's wife).
|The bride is dressed by her mother,
female relatives and friends amid much gaiety. She may wear a sari or a lehenga
in traditional colours like red, orange or magenta. She is adorned with
traditional gold jewellery like a nose ring, etc.
|The groom dresses in formal attire, which
may be traditional or western. A young nephew or cousin also dons similar
attire. He is called the sarbala (caretaker of the groom) and accompanies him
on his mare or in his car.
|A puja is performed after the groom dons
his wedding attire. His sehra or turban is blessed by his relatives, as is the
silver mukut or crown that goes on top of the turban. At the end of the
ceremony, those present bless the groom and give him gifts or, more commonly,
Vag Goodti and Duppata Varna
|The groom's bhabi lines his eyes with
surma (kohl). After this, the groom's sisters and cousins feed and decorate his
mare. If the groom chooses to use a car for the occasion, then the car is
decorated. His relatives use cash for the varna, a ceremony that is supposed to
ward off the evil eye. The cash is given away to the poor.
|The milni ceremony takes place when the
groom's procession reaches the wedding venue. The groom and his relatives are
welcomed with flower garlands by the bride's close relatives. The chief aim of
this ceremony is to help both sides to get acquainted with each other. The
girl's relatives give shagoon to the groom's close relatives, beginning with
his grandfather, father, uncles and brothers. The shagoon usually consists of
cash and is given to honour the relatives.
|The bride and groom exchange garlands
during this ceremony. Those present indulge in much teasing and festivity to
mark this happy occasion. Often, this ceremony acts as an effective ice-breaker
for the nervous bride and her groom.
|The mahurat or auspicious time for the
wedding ceremony is usually set after dinner. When the mahurat approaches, the
purohit first performs a puja for the groom. The groom chants a few mantras.
This is when the girl's young relatives grab the groom's untended shoes and
hide it away to be returned after the ceremony for a fee. The fee - kalecharis
- gold for the bride's sisters and silver for her cousins. Once the groom's
puja is over, the purohit performs another puja with the couple and their
parents. The bride is given away by her father in a ceremony called the
kanyadaan. This is followed by another ceremony - the pheras (rounds). The
bride and groom go around the sacred fire with the bride's sari tied to the
groom's pagdi with the help of the red chunni used in the ghara ghardoli
ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the newly-weds touch the feet of the
groom's parents and the elders present to take their blessings. The bride
changes into the clothes presented by her in-laws, while her relatives apply
tilak on the groom's forehead.
|This ceremony marks the departure of the
bride from her parental house. She throws phulian or puffed rice over her head.
She conveys her good wishes for her parents through this gesture. A beautifully
decorated palanquin or car takes her to her new home. She is usually
accompanied by her brother. Her relatives throw coins in the wake of this
at The Boy's House
|The newly weds are welcomed in a ceremony
called the pani bharna. The groom's mother performs the traditional aarti
(puja) with a pitcher of water. She makes seven attempts to drink the water
from the pitcher. The groom must allow her to succeed only at the seventh
attempt. The bride must, with her right foot, kick the sarson ka tel (mustard
oil) that is put on the sides of the entrance door before she enters the house.
Along with her husband, she must offer puja in their room. Then they must touch
the feet of the elders in a ceremony called matha tekna. The rest of the
evening is spent in playing enjoyable traditional game.
|This ceremony demands that the newly weds
visit the bride's parents on the day after the wedding. They are usually
fetched by the bride's brother. The bride's parents host a lunch to mark the
occasion. They also give a lot of gifts to the newly weds.