Punjabi wedding rituals

Weddings says a lot about one’s culture and Punjabis have a unique way to prepare for the big day.

There are a LOT of rituals that are performed in both families of the to-be-wed couple. Every single one of them is done for a purpose and means something.

The Roka Ceremony

The roka or saith ceremony, is an announcement that the boy and girl have found their soulmates and will look no further for a life partner. The girl’s mama (mother’s brother) gives her the nath (nose ring) which she will wear on her wedding. The origin of this ceremony lies in the arranged marriage norm where the parents would let out the world that they are looking for a suitable match for their son or daughter. And once they had found that match, their search had come to an end. Though rings are not exchanged, the couple stand unofficially engaged after this ceremony.

The Sagan and Engagement Ceremonies

A pandit performs ‘havan’.

The girl’s father applies the “tikka” (made of kesar, rice grains and flower petals) on the boy’s forehead who takes the blessing from the girl’s family members.

Then all the relatives and friends of the girl’s side come forward to bless the prospective groom, offer sweets to him and give him cash/gifts. In return, the girl’s family receives baskets of seven dried fruits: almonds, cashewnuts, chuahara, coconut pieces, raisins, khurman (dried apricots). The girl is draped with a chunni by the sister’s boy as a token of acceptance of the girl in their family.

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.

Mehendi and Sangeet Celebrations

Mehendi takes place in the atmosphere of a party. The bride and other ladies get mehend done, on their hands and feet. Ladies get it done only on their hands but the bride gets it done on both hands and feet. For the bride the mehendi is sent by the future Mother in Law.

Sangeet is a musical program. Wedding folk songs are sung and all the relatives and friends dance to the tunes of the music. This ceremony is considered auspicious as the wedding songs are said to be full of blessings for the prospective couple. Also, this ceremony becomes amusing with interesting songs with teasing punches for the prospective couple and dance performances by every younger and elder member of the family.

The Wedding Ceremony

A havan is conducted by the pandit.

The bridegroom is applied a paste of turmeric and mustard oil and is bathed by water brought from the temple.

His maternal uncle presents his attire.  After he has bathed and changed into his new clothes, puja is performed. The boy’s father or an elderly relative is given the honour of tying the “sehra” on his head. A pink colour turban is first touched by all the relatives present before it is tied on the boy’s head. The Ghori Chadna is the final ceremony at the groom’s place. The boy’s eyes are lined with surma to ward off the evil eye. He is then seated on a female horse and his sisters tie a mauli (sacred thread) on the reins of his horse. They also detain the horse in the tradition known as baagpakdai, saying that they won’t leave it’s reins unless their brother bribes them. Once they are satisfied with the cash or jewellery bribe, they release the reins so the groom can gallop off to the venue.

The bride’s family waits at the entrance to greet the baarat (the groom and his family), who reach singing and dancing.

The father, brother, uncles and grandfathers of the groom embrace the corresponding members of the bride’s family.

When they enter the venue the bride is brought out and the couple exchange garlands. The bride and the groom accept each other and will love and live together with one and other.

At the time of muhurat, the purohit conducts a puja for the groom, in which the groom is asked to chant the first few mantras. It is during this time, when the bride’s sisters indulge in stealing of shoes. It is a fun tradition, in which the girls charge a fee for agreeing to return the shoes.

The wedding concludes with the seven pheras round, where the couple exchange vows in front of the sacred fire. The groom applies vermilion to the girl’s hair partition and ties a beaded necklace to the girl’s neck. When all these rituals are over, the couple gets up to touch the feet of all the elder members in the family and seek their blessings for a happily married life.

Congratulations to Nishank & Kanika!

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