Photography: Amrit 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!
In this article:
Hindu Punjabi Pre-wedding Ceremonies
Photography: Immense Vision
There is a train of wonderful pre-wedding ceremonies that are celebrated before the main wedding day over a course of 1 to 2 days.
The Roka ceremony is a pre-engagement commitment ceremony where the bride and groom's family officially mark the union of the couple. Roka's work 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 the exchange of rings. The millennial couples, however, exchange promise rings or something of that sort too.
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 jewelry, 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.
The women of both the bride and groom's families 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 marks the beginning of the wedding celebrations.
The Dholki ceremony is the sangeet ceremony. It happens separately at the bride's and 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.
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 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 arrives in a gorgeously decorated trousseau that her mother-in-law sent. The Mehndi ceremony often continues to become a cocktail evening too.
Hindu Punjabi Pre-wedding Rituals at the Bride's house
Image Credits: Pinterest
There are some pre-wedding ceremonies that take place in the bride's home separately.
The Mayian ceremony includes the Punjabi wedding Chura ceremony, the 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.
This ceremony is quite literal in its name. The Jaago ceremony is celebrated at the bride's house as well as the groom's. This ceremony involves the families staying 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.
The Vatna ceremony is also commonly known as the Haldi ceremony. A paste of turmeric and mustard oil is applied to the bride and groom, respectively, to enhance their glow and get them ready for the wedding.
This ceremony is also celebrated separately at the bride and groom's houses, but with destination weddings becoming the millennial rage, it is often celebrated together now.
Chura & Kalira Ceremony
The bride receives a set of traditional red bangles from 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 heartfelt wishes for her new life. The maternal uncle and the maternal aunt then help the bride put on the churas. The rest of the bride's family then ties the kalire to her churas. This ceremony is celebrated on the morning of the wedding day and marks the beginning of the wedding ceremony.
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.
Hindu Punjabi Pre-wedding Rituals at the Groom's house
Photography: Eminence Photography
Apart from some of the above-mentioned common rituals that are followed by the bride as well as the groom, there are some pre-wedding ceremonies only observed at the groom's house.
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 the sarbalal shabbala, or the caretaker of the groom, and he is supposed to accompany the groom at all times and even sit with him in the ghodi (mare), or the car that drives them to the wedding with the baraat.
When the groom is prepared in his Punjabi wedding dress, the groom's sister performs the Sehrabandi ceremony and ties the Sehra. A small puja is performed to ward off 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.
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.
The groom's sisters and cousins feed the Ghodi, or mare, and decorate it with 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.
Hindu Punjabi Wedding Day Rituals
Photography: Lilac Weddings
The final wedding also comprises big and small traditions that make it such a beautiful one.
Image Courtesy: Shiv Weddings
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.
In this ceremony, the bride and groom exchange flower garlands called Jaimala or Varmala. The families lift them up to make it difficult for them to put the garland on each other during this first ceremony of the wedding, which is a lot of fun. The bride is dressed in her Punjabi wedding suit.
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.
The bride and groom then perform seven pheras around the sacred fire following this. Each phera is a significant promise that the bride and groom make in the presence of the priest. Following this ritual, the groom applies sindoor (vermillion) to the bride and then secures the marriage by placing the Mangalsutra around her neck.
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 them. 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!
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 mother-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 is that 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 the paani bharna ceremony. The bride then performs the ritual of kicking the brass pot filled with rice with her right leg as she enters the new house.
Hindu Punjabi Post-Wedding Rituals
Image Credits: Pinterest
There are a handful of rituals that take place at the groom's house after the wedding, too.
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 to the bride's wrist during the Chura 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 icebreaker for the bride in her new home.
The groom's family hosts the reception ceremony, which is the official event where they introduce the new bride to their extended family and social network. This is often a formal celebration that involves guests who were not invited to the wedding. Your Punjabi wedding card can contain separate information and details for these guests too.
Once the wedding is over, the bride's brother comes to pick her up and takes her back to her maternal house. She spends the night at her maternal home, and then her brother drops her back at her sasural again. This ceremony is a sweet gesture that signifies that the bride is still welcome in her maternal house in the same way as before she was married.
Note: With valuable inputs from Sohaila Kher and Seema Sachdeva.
Now that you have learned all about the Punjabi wedding traditions and ceremonies, are you excited to attend your next Punjabi wedding? If you are looking for dresses for a Punjabi wedding that fit 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.