Punjabis are known for their rich culture and their weddings are great fun to watch and attend. The entire slew of pre-wedding and post wedding ceremonies not only exhibit the colorful grandeur of those weddings but the traditions followed by the people. The ceremonies performed during the wedding have a great significance and let’s take a brief look at each of those in this post.
Wholehearted consent of the parents of the bride and groom is imperative in Punjabi weddings before the wedding can actually progress. Roka – the ceremony where the bride’s family visits the groom and Thaka – the ceremony where the groom’s family visits the bride are considered an important piece of the wedding ceremonies. The families visit to express their consent, bless them on their impending wedding and gift them with clothes, jewelry, fruits and sweets. This happens a day or few prior to the wedding. Chunni Chadana also forms a part of the Roka where the groom’s mother gifts the bride with a red/pink chunni as a gesture accepting the bride to be.
The Engagement ceremony (Sagai)
Close friends and family are invited to witness this formal engagement ceremony. The groom and the bride exchange rings signifying their engagement. The families shower each other with gifts as well. This is followed by a sumptuous feast served to the guests attending the ceremony.
This is the spectacular evening that the bride and groom’s family look forward to. It’s an evening of fun and dance. The friends and cousins create a playlist of songs to be played on the sangeet and everyone dances to these musical numbers.
The Mehndi ceremony is followed religiously by the bride’s side, inviting all the female members of the family to celebrate the bride and wish her a happy and prosperous life. The bride and guests coming to the Mehndi ceremony choose to apply Mehndi on themselves continued by some fun and frolic. It’s usually accompanied with some serious dancing and a nice sumptuous meal. It is believed that the darker the henna stain on the bride, the more the groom will love her.
Chura and Kalire
This is the ceremony where the maternal uncle of the bride gifts her Chooda, a set of 21 or 51 red and white bangles. These bangles are washed with curd and rosewater before the bride wears them. These bridal chura symbolize the new bride and they are then tied with kalire by the bride’s sisters and friends.
This is a ceremony where a paste of haldi is applied on the bride’s and the groom’s face, neck, hands and legs on the morning of their wedding or the day before. Haldi is said to keep nazar (evil-eye) away. The yellow color from the haldi is considered auspicious for a prosperous life for the new couple and make the bride and groom look radiant on their wedding day.
The groom’s sister visits the nearby temple to bring an earthen pot filled with holy water called gharoli. The bride and the groom take their final bath before their wedding with the water from this earthen pot.
Traditionally, the groom is supposed to ride on a mare to meet the bride on their wedding day. But nowadays the groom takes a car for the most part and then a mare right before they enter the wedding venue. A band hired for music and bhangra dance is an essential part of the baraat.
The bride and groom exchange flower garlands around each others’ necks and then sit side-by-side before the sacred fire. Then the bride’s father gives away the bride to the groom in a ceremony called Kanyadaan. The couple go seven times around the sacred fire and then the groom ties a sacred thread called mangalsutra, around the bride’s neck. It’s followed by a grand feast and drinks to the wedding guests.
Doli and Vidai
After the wedding is over, the bride prepares to leave the parent’s home to the groom’s. Doli is a palanquin used to carry women in olden days. It is still used to symbolize the bride leaving her house to the groom’s. The bride throws grains of rice over her shoulders before leaving and while entering the groom’s home she tosses a bowl of rice on the floor before entering.
The Punjabi wedding traditions as we saw in this post are so colorful and vivacious. Let’s take a look at how to choose the bridal outfits for each of these occasions in our next post. Until then..