Amrit Arora Photography
Amrit Arora Photography

Punjabi weddings are full of colour, love and delicious food; not to forget Patiala Pegs. We have combined a list of Punjabi wedding traditions and rituals so that next time you don’t have to ask the bride and the groom about what’s going on!

Pre-Wedding Ceremonies

Luxmi Digital Studio
Luxmi Digital Studio

There is a train of wonderful pre-wedding ceremonies that are celebrated before the main wedding day in a course of 1 to 2 days.

Roka

Sunny Dhiman Photography
Sunny Dhiman Photography

The Roka ceremony is a pre-engagement commitment ceremony where the bride and groom's family officially mark the union of the couple. The work Roka has a very literal meaning - to stop the bride and groom from seeing any more prospective matches because their wedding is finalised. This ceremony is celebrated with the exchange of gifts and does not usually include exchange of rings. The millennial couples, however, exchange promise rings or something of that sort too.

Kurmai 

Sunny Dhiman Photography
Sunny Dhiman Photography

The Kurmai ceremony also known as the Sagai is the engagement ceremony. The bride is gifted with an ornate dupatta which is often an heirloom piece belonging to the groom's family. She is showered with gifts especially jewellery which her mother-in-law and sister-in-law help her put on. The father of the bride puts a tika on the groom's forehead to bless him. The ceremony is sealed with the exchange of rings between the bride and the groom. 

Kirtan

Image Courtesy: June Soul By Ali

The women of both the bride and groom's family get together, separately in the respective homes of the bride and groom and gather other relatives and sometimes the neighbours too to do a puja that embarks the beginning of the wedding celebrations. 

Dholki

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The Dholki ceremony is the sangeet ceremony. It happens separately at the bride and the groom's houses respectively. The typical Dholki ceremony is celebrated with the closest family members of the bride and groom's family playing dhols and singing folk songs for Punjabi wedding to tease them. The dhols have however been replaced with properly choreographed dance performances and often a DJ too. 

Mehndi

Artfoto Studio
Artfoto Studio

The mehndi ceremony is a major function where mehndi artists are invited to the bride's house to put henna on the bride's hands and feet along with putting mehndi on the female family member's palms too. The groom too puts on mehndi as a part of this tradition. The bride's mehndi comes in as a trousseau send by her mother-in-law and is beautifully decorated. The Mehndi ceremony often continues to become a cocktail evening too.

Rituals at The Bride's Home

Infinite Memories
Infinite Memories

There are some pre-wedding ceremonies that take place in the bride's home separately.

Mayian

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The Mayian ceremony includes the Punjabi wedding Chura ceremony, Vatna (Haldi) ceremony, the sangeet and the mehndi too. This ceremony typically starts the night before the wedding and it is the final preparation ceremony before the big day.

Jaggo

Image Courtesy: June Soul By Ali

This ceremony is quite literal to the name. The Jaago ceremony is celebrated at the bride's house as well as the groom's. This ceremony involves the families to stay awake all night singing Punjabi wedding songs and lighting diyas that the bride's maternal aunt is supposed to carry on her head. A lot of singing and dancing happens all through the night without any sleep to celebrate the wedding day that is to follow.

Vatna

Sunny Dhiman Photography
Sunny Dhiman Photography

Vatna ceremony is also commonly known as the Haldi ceremony. A paste of turmeric and mustard oil is applied to the bride and the groom respectively to enhance their glow and get them ready for the wedding.

Paran Singh Photography
Paran Singh Photography

This ceremony is also celebrated separately at the bride and groom's houses but with destination wedding becoming the millennial rage, it is often celebrated together now.

Chura & Kalira Ceremony

Paran Singh Photography
Paran Singh Photography

Chura is a set of traditional red bangles that is given to the bride by her maternal uncle. The bride is not allowed to see the entire ceremony so her eyes are covered. All the family members present at this ceremony touch the bangles turn by turn to bless the bride and send their heartiest wishes along for her new life. The maternal uncle and the maternal aunt then help the bride put on the Churas. This is followed by the rest of the relatives of the bride tying the Kalire to her Churas. This ceremony is celebrated on the morning of the wedding day and marks the beginning of the wedding ceremony.

Ghara Gharoli

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The Ghara Gharoli ceremony involves the bride's sister-in-law visiting the nearest temple to fill a beautifully decorated clay pot (Gharoli) with holy water and bringing it to the bride. The bride then takes a bath in this water right after her Vatna (Haldi) and starts getting ready for her wedding. The bride thereafter changes into her wedding attire. Originally the clay pitcher was filled with water from the well but with evolving times it is now done at the nearest temple. The same ceremony takes place at the groom's house too, but the groom's sister-in-law gets the water for him to take his ceremonial bath in it. 

Rituals at The Groom's Home

ShutterDown by Lakshya Chawla
ShutterDown by Lakshya Chawla

Apart from some of the above mentioned common rituals that is followed by the bride as well as the groom, there are some pre-wedding ceremonies only observed at the groom's house.

Sarbala 

Jay Chugh Photography
Jay Chugh Photography

There is a small kid who accompanies the groom and is often the best-dressed kid at the wedding. A young nephew or cousin is picked during this ceremony who is called as the sarbalal shabbala or the caretaker of the groom and he is supposed to accompany the groom at all times and even sits with him in the ghodi (mare) or the car that drives them to the wedding with the baraat.

Sehra

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The Sehrabandi ceremony is performed by the groom's sister who ties the Sehra after the groom is ready in his Punjabi wedding dress. A small puja is performed to ward off the evil and all the family members who witness this ceremony often shower gifts upon the groom as a token of best wishes and luck before he walks down the aisle.

Varna

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This is a small yet very significant ceremony that follows the Sehrabandi ceremony where the groom's sister does a small puja and puts the surma on the groom to ward off the evil and get him all set to go get his bride.

Ghodi Chadhna

Image Courtesy: Dream Diaries

The Ghodi or the mare that is supposed to be the groom's ride to the wedding is fed by the groom's sisters and cousins and is also decorated in gorgeous Gota Patti fabrics. The family members and close relatives circle some money around the ghodi and the groom as a sign of nazar utarna and once the groom has mounted the horse, this money is distributed among the poor or less fortunate ones. The millennial grooms have however found other dashing ways of groom entry rather than taking the ghodi.

The Wedding Rituals

Dipak Studios
Dipak Studios

The final wedding also comprises of big and small traditions that make it such a beautiful one.

Milni

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This is the ceremony when the groom's baraat reaches the venue and the bride's family welcomes them at the gate with puja thalis.

Jaimala

Dipak Studios
Dipak Studios

In this ceremony, the bride and groom exchange flower garlands called Jaimala or Varmala. This is the first ceremony of the wedding and is made a lot of fun by the families by lifting them up to make it difficult for them to put on the garland on each other. The bride is dressed in her Punjabi wedding suit.

Kanyadan

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This is one of the most important and sentimental rituals of the wedding. The bride's father puts a ring on the groom's finger and then he gives his daughter to the groom. According to Vedic traditions, Kanyadaan is considered the biggest achievement of a father, it’s the biggest ‘Daan’ he can ever do.

Phere

The Wedding Story, Mumbai
The Wedding Story, Mumbai

This is followed by the seven pheras that the bride and the groom take around the sacred fire. Each phera is a significant promise that the bride and groom take in the presence of the priest. This ceremony is followed by the groom putting sindoor (vermillion) on the bride and then putting the Mangalsutra around her neck to seal the deal.

Joota Chhupai

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During the wedding when the bride and groom are busy participating in the rituals on the mandap, the sisters of the bride or her cousins and friends indulge in stealing the groom's shoes and hiding it. After the pheras when the bride and groom need to leave the mandap, a rigorous session of bargaining takes place where the groom is asked to pay an amount to the bride's party in order to get his shoes back. The fee has evolved to become cash or money now, initially, it used to be Kalecharis of gold for the bride's sisters and of silver for her cousins. It is a fun ceremony!

Vidaai

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The Vidaai is an emotional tradition that marks the official time for the bride to say goodbye to her maternal home. The bride throws puffed rice or rice over her head to shower the house and her maternal family with gratefulness. Traditionally the mothr-in-law does not come with the Baraat for the wedding and chooses to stay back home and prepare for the newlyweds to come home.

Something similar to the Grihapravesh, the mother-in-law offers a glass of water and circles it around the bride's head before offering her to drink it. This signifies that the groom's family accepts and welcomes the bride to her new home with love and warmth and the ceremony is called paani bharna ceremony. This is followed by the rite where the bride kicks the brass pot filled with rice with her right leg as her first steps into the new house.

Post-Wedding Rituals

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There are a handful of rituals that take place at the groom's house after the wedding too. 

Post-wedding Games

PixelStory.in
PixelStory.in

Post-wedding functions start with a lot of traditional games that are played in the groom's house. One of the games is that the ring or the string with cowrie shells and other elements that is tied on the bride's wrist during the Vhura ceremony is put into a bowl of milk or coloured water with rose petals and so on. Whoever finds the rings first is supposed to be the one who steers the married life. There are many other such games and it is indeed a great ice-breaker for the bride in her new home.

Reception

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The reception ceremony is hosted by the groom's family and is the official occasion where they introduce the new bride to their part of the family and social circle. This is often a formal celebration that involves the guests who were not invited to the wedding. Your Punjabi wedding card can contain separate info and details for these guests too.

Phera Dalna

Amrit Arora Photography
Amrit Arora Photography

Once the wedding is over, the bride's brother comes to pick her and takes her back to her maternal house. She spends the night at her maternal home and then her brother drops her back to her sasural again. This ceremony is a sweet gesture that signifies that the bride is still welcome in her maternal house the same way as before she was married. 

Note: With valuable inputs from Sohaila Kher and Seema Sachdeva.

Now that you have learnt all about the Punjabi wedding traditions and ceremonies, are you excited to attend your next Punjabi wedding? If you are looking for dresses for Punjabi wedding to fit in just right, get in touch with ace designers on board.

Do leave your comments below and share with us your experience at a Punjabi wedding.