Owing to its unique sacred traditional culture, Punjab stands among the most colorful and purest states in India. People in Punjab are simple but fun-loving who always believe in expressing their feelings with zest. They celebrate their events with great zeal, music, dance, and revelry, be it a wedding function or some other occasion. Talking about wedding traditions in Punjab, it takes you into a world full of loud music, choreographed dance, sacred rituals, delicious spicy food, and Patiala pegs.
The weddings in Punjab are lavished with unlimited fun and celebration. Punjabi weddings followed by pre and post-wedding rituals make it look prestigious and an enjoyable fair. They do not miss even a single chance to jolly. Their wedding depicts their inclination towards sticking to old culture, although with a traditional twist to them sometimes. From exclusive lehengas to the clamorous baratis, ‘the dance till you drop’, welcoming the host to the friendly Sangeet ceremony makes a Punjabi wedding look like a roller-coaster.
1. Roka and Thaka
When all aspects of the marriage look good the bride’s family offers the groom their blessings accompanied by several gifts for the whole family such as sweets, chocolates, clothes, and money (which is often called Shagun). The custom performed is known as Roka, The bride’s presence is not necessary for Roka. The Groom’s family reverts the gesture by visiting the bride’s residence on a separate day carrying gift hampers. This return ceremony is called Thaka. These ceremonies mark the involvement of close family members only. The relationship between two families develops by organizing a small pooja called Ardaas.
This ceremony witnesses the official engagement between the couple. This is embarked as a grand ceremony and usually precedes the wedding by one or two months. Family members and friends from both sides of the family gather to be a part of the couple’s new journey. The bride is provided boiled rice and milk to eat by the groom’s family. Amongst the celebratory mood, the couple exchanges their rings.
3. Shagun and Chunni Chadai
The chunni ceremony is performed to mark the welcome of a new bride into the groom’s family. On the day of sagai or before, a group of ladies visits the bride’s home carrying some outfits which she has to wear at the function. They also bring sweets, mawa, gifts, and special parts of the ritual i.e. headscarf or Chunni. The chunni is placed in such a way that it covers the bride’s head and face like a veil. The ceremony performed is called Chunni Chadhana. The ceremony continues by gifting the bride jewelry, bangles, or necklaces that the family has inherited over many years. A little henna is applied to the bride’s palm to make the ceremony auspicious. The gifts offered to the bride are popularly known as Shagun.
The ladies Sangeet is a musical event organized by the bride’s family. Traditionally this event took place differently. The ladies of the family gathered and performed the function surrounding the bride. They make merry by singing traditional Punjabi folk wedding songs, dancing, and teasing the bride. The groom’s family members are also invited to the ceremony. Nowadays, Sangeet is viewed as a gala event where both the families gather to enjoy the musical fun-filled evening. Family members from both sides perform choreographed dances. It is a great opportunity for the families to get familiar with each other.
Mehendi ceremony is one of the key rituals of the Punjabi wedding. The bride sits on a well-decorated tool surrounded by her close friends and the intricate and exclusive patterns of henna paste are applied to her palm and feet, where the groom’s initials are hidden. It is believed that the darker the color of the Mehendi, the more love a bride will get from her in-laws. The Mehendi ceremony is also performed at the groom’s place in a similar way but with a low gathering.
One night before the wedding, the family stays up all night and celebrates till the wee hours of the morning. The ceremony performed is called Jago. In the ceremony, a copper ‘khada’ is crafted with clay lamps. The ‘mami’ of the bride carries the ‘khada’ above her head while the other lady tries to shake it with a long stick with bells on it. The ladies visit relatives’ houses along with dancing and singing who offer them sweets, to eat.
7. Gana Bandhan
On the morning of the wedding day, the bride and groom attend puja at their respective homes. After completing the puja the pandit ties a mouli (sacred thread) to their wrists. It is tied around a betel nut multiple times to make it complex to untie later.
8. Chooda Chadana
Chooda refers to a set of 21 beautiful red bangles which is offered to the bride at the ceremony. The bride’s mama has a major role to play in the ceremony. He has to attend a havan where chooda is purified with milk and rose petals. The bride’s face is covered with some cloth as she is not allowed to see chooda until the arrival of the wedding day. The mama and mami of the bride then the chooda is placed on the bride’s hand in the presence of elderly members. The bridal lehenga is also gifted to the bride by her maternal uncle at this auspicious ceremony. The sisters of the bride and groom then tie kalire around the bride’s wrist that is enfolded with dried betel nuts.
On the occasion of the wedding Haldi, the bride sits on a wooden stool facing four diyas. A Haldi paste is prepared which consists of turmeric powder, sandalwood, rosewater, and mustard oil. Then, the prepared paste is applied to the whole body of the bride, especially on the face, hands, and feet. It is believed by elderly people that the dazzling from the diyas imparts an eternal glow on the bride’s face.
10. Ghara Gharoli
After completing the wedding Haldi ceremony, the paste is removed from the bride’s face and the bride is then taken to the temple where she is blessed with holy water. She then prays to the deity asking for a blessing. The ritual performed is called Ghara Gharoli. A similar ritual is performed at the groom’s place.
11. Sehrabandi and Varna
In this ceremony, the groom dresses up in his wedding attire which includes sherwani and churidar. A small puja takes place in his honor during which sehra is purified by the pandit. Then, it is tied around the groom’s head by an elderly member of the family.
12. Ghodi Chadna
In the ceremony, the groom sets off for the wedding venue by riding a horse. The horse is decorated well and a tika is applied on its head and is fed chana dal by the ladies of the groom’s family. The Surma is applied to the groom’s eyes by his sister-in-law to protect him from evil eyes. He then mounts on a horse continuing the ceremony accompanied by the family members and wedding band.
Upon entering the wedding venue, the groom is directed towards the stage and made to stand upon the small pedestal. At an auspicious muhurta, the bride enters the stage and the couple exchange garlands. The ceremony performed is called varmala which is filled with great fun.
After exchanging garlands, the couple proceeds to the mandap where the groom is offered a bowl of water to drink. He is also offered special sweets made up of milk, honey, curd, ghee, and other sacred essences. This dish is popularly known as Madhuperk.
This is one of the old Vedic wedding rituals, where the bride is given away to the groom by her parents. Through the Vedic mantra chanted by a pandit, the bride’s father requests the groom to take good care of his daughter and the groom accepts the bride’s hand promising him that he will give her all love and care. The rituals are performed in the presence of a fire deity who is the prime witness of a wedding
In the next phase of the Punjabi wedding rituals, the couple stands up and the knot of their dupattas is tied together and they complete this ceremony by encircling the sacred fire four times. For the first three phera bride precedes the groom and in the final phera, she follows the groom.
17. Sindoor Daan
Performing this wedding ritual is itself an emotional touch, where the groom applies sindoor to the parted hair of the bride and also ties a mangal sutra around her neck accompanied by the mantras chanted by the priest.
This is the most emotional wedding ritual of the Punjabi wedding ceremony, where the bride says goodbye to her family with teary eyes and throws rice from both of her hands in her family’s direction. This way she thanked her family members for taking care of her for decades. Then she is sent to her husband’s home in a car decorated with flower petals. This procession of the bride sent away is called Viddai.