The vibrant and culturally rich world of Punjabi wedding rituals! From the rhythmic beats of the dhol to the colors of the attire, every aspect of a Punjabi wedding reflects the spirit of Punjab – warm, lively, and filled with love.
In this blog, we will take you on a journey through the captivating rituals, joyful festivities, and heartwarming moments that make Punjabi weddings a truly unforgettable experience.
So, join us as we explore the traditions that bind hearts and families in the land of Balle Balle!
The Roka ceremony, a pre-engagement commitment ritual, holds a special place in Punjabi wedding traditions. During this heartwarming ceremony, the families of the bride and groom come together to officially celebrate and mark the union of the couple. The term “Roka” itself carries significance, as it quite literally means “to stop.” It signifies that the bride and groom, after this ceremony, are no longer open to meeting prospective matches because their wedding is now officially finalized.
The Kurmai ceremony also referred to as the Sagai, marks the engagement in a Punjabi wedding. This ceremony is a beautiful blend of tradition and celebration. During Kurmai, the bride receives a precious gift—an ornate dupatta, often an heirloom piece from the groom’s family. The bride is also showered with gifts, especially jewelry, which her soon-to-be mother-in-law and sister-in-law assist her in adorning. The father of the bride plays a significant role by placing a tika on the groom’s forehead, bestowing blessings upon him for a harmonious future. To symbolize their commitment, the engagement ceremony is sealed with the exchange of rings between the bride and the groom, signifying the beginning of their journey towards wedded bliss.
In the lead-up to the grand wedding festivities, the women from both the bride’s and groom’s families come together in separate gatherings. These gatherings typically take place in the respective homes of the bride and groom. This special occasion is marked by a sacred puja, a spiritual ritual that symbolizes the commencement of the wedding celebrations. It is household tradition where families come together to seek blessings.
In the olden days, this joyful occasion involved close family members from both sides playing dhols (traditional drums) and singing spirited Punjabi folk songs, playfully teasing the bride and groom. However, in contemporary times, the Dholki ceremony has evolved. While the essence of celebration remains intact, it has taken on a more modern flavor.
Mehendi artists are invited to the bride’s residence to skillfully adorn her hands and feet with henna, a tradition that extends to the female family members as well. To make the ceremony more fun, the groom also participates by applying mehendi, showcasing his commitment to the upcoming union.
Beyond its traditional significance, the mehendi ceremony has embraced modernity, often evolving into a vibrant cocktail evening. This fusion of tradition and celebration makes the Mehendi ceremony a delightful and memorable pre-wedding event, filled with joy and anticipation.
Rituals performed at the bride’s residence
The Mayian ceremony is a pre-wedding ritual in Punjabi weddings, bringing together several essential customs. It typically takes place on the night before the wedding, serving as the ultimate preparation ceremony before the big day. During the Mayian, several key traditions are observed, including the Punjabi wedding Chura ceremony, and the Vatna (Haldi) ceremony.
This lively tradition involves family members staying awake throughout the night, singing Punjabi wedding songs, and lighting diyas (traditional oil lamps). An integral part of the ceremony is when the bride’s maternal aunt carries these lit diyas on her head.
The Jaago ceremony is a night filled with exuberant singing, lively dancing, and joyful celebrations, all in anticipation of the wedding day to come.
The Vatna ceremony, commonly known as the Haldi ceremony, is a cherished pre-wedding ritual. In this tradition, a paste made from turmeric and mustard oil is lovingly applied to the bride and groom, respectively. This application is believed to enhance their natural glow and prepare them for their upcoming wedding day.
Chura and Kalira
The Chura ceremony is a deeply symbolic and heartfelt ritual in Punjabi weddings. It involves the presentation of a set of traditional red bangles to the bride by her maternal uncle. To add an element of surprise and anticipation, the bride’s eyes are covered, and she is not allowed to witness the entire ceremony. During this poignant moment, all family members present take their turns to touch the bangles, imparting their blessings and best wishes for the bride’s new life.
With the assistance of her maternal uncle and aunt, the bride is then gently adorned with the Churas, symbolizing the start of her journey into marital life. This moment is further enriched as other relatives of the bride tie Kalire (decorative ornaments) to her Churas. The Chura ceremony, celebrated on the morning of the wedding day, holds immense significance as it marks the official commencement of the wedding festivities.
One of the customs associated with kaleere is the playful ritual known as “Kalire Rasam.” During this ritual, the bride’s friends, usually unmarried female friends or bridesmaids, playfully touch the kalira to see if it falls off. The belief is that if a kaleera falls off and touches a friend, she will be the next one to get married.
The Ghara Gharoli ceremony is a significant pre-wedding ritual in Punjabi weddings, symbolizing purification and preparation for the upcoming procedures. During this tradition, the bride’s sister-in-law embarks on a journey to the nearest temple. Here, she fills a beautifully decorated clay pot, known as Gharoli, with holy water, which she later brings back to the bride.
Similarly, a parallel ceremony takes place at the groom’s house, where the groom’s sister-in-law carries out the same ritual, providing him with holy water for his ceremonial bath. These ceremonies symbolize the couple’s spiritual readiness and mark a step as they prepare to embark on their marital journey.
Rituals performed at the Groom’s residence
A nephew or a close cousin of the groom who is comparatively of young age is given the responsibility of being caretaker of the groom or the sarbala. He’s undoubtedly the best-dressed kid at the wedding and is expected to accompany the groom till he arrives at the wedding.
Sehra typically is a headdress with garland hangings in front adorned by the Groom. This tradition is carried out by the groom’s sister, who ties the sehra after the groom is dressed for the wedding ceremony.
This ceremony follows the sehra, in which the groom’s sister continues the ritual by performing a puja and by applying surma (a dot of kohl) on the groom’s forehead to ward off evil and gets him ready to greet his bride.
The Ghodi, or the horse which serves as the groom’s ride to the wedding, is adorned in gorgeous fabric. In a captivating ritual, the groom’s family feeds the Ghodi as a gesture of respect and care, ensuring that the animal is well-prepared for the journey to the wedding venue.
Additionally, an intriguing custom involves using money to ward off evil. This is done by encircling the horse and the groom with currency notes. This ritual, followed at many north Indian weddings, is believed to bring blessings and protect against negative influences on the auspicious wedding day.
Main-day Wedding Rituals
The mere or the groom’s ride carries the groom to the wedding venue for the groom’s party to arrive in style along with the Baarat. The bride’s family greets the groom in a very auspicious manner by performing a small welcome puja.
The garland exchange ceremony is a grand ritual, which encapsulates the bride and groom exchanging garlands as a sign of their acceptance of one another.
What makes this ceremony particularly special is the involvement of both families. They enthusiastically join in, playfully lifting the couple to make it a bit challenging for them to place the garlands on each other. The candid moments captured during this exchange of garlands make for lasting memories!
Pheras involve the couple taking seven rounds around the sacred fire, symbolizing the promises they make to each other. During each phera, the couple articulates a specific vow, pledging their commitment to one another. Upon completing the seven pheras, the groom marks a pivotal moment by applying sindoor, to the bride’s forehead. This act signifies the sealing of their marital union and the beginning of a lifelong journey together.
During the wedding, while the bride and groom are busy with the rituals, the bride’s sisters, cousins, and friends play a trick. They steal the groom’s shoes and hide them away. After the main ceremony, when it’s time for the groom to leave, a fun and lively bargaining session begins.
In this tradition, the groom is asked to pay a sum of money to the bride’s side in exchange for getting his shoes back. This practice has evolved over time, and nowadays, it usually involves cash rather than gold or silver items. It’s all in good spirits and adds an element of fun and humor to the wedding festivities.
The Vidaai is a touching tradition where the bride formally bids farewell to her childhood home. As a gesture of gratitude, she tosses rice over her head to symbolically shower her maternal family with blessings.
In a ceremony known as Grihapravesh (housewarming), the mother-in-law offers the bride a glass of water and circles it around her head. This gesture signifies the groom’s family’s warm welcome and acceptance of the bride into her new home. This ritual is known as the Paani Bharna ceremony. Following this, the bride takes her first steps into her new home by kicking a brass pot filled with rice with her right foot. This is the beginning of her journey in the new household.
After the wedding, there are traditional games played at the groom’s house to kick off the post-wedding celebrations. One of these games involves a special ring or string, often tied on the bride’s wrist during a prior ceremony. This ring or string is placed in a bowl of milk or colored water with rose petals and other decorative elements.
The fun part is that everyone at the gathering tries to find the ring or string in the bowl. The person who finds it first is believed to have a significant role in shaping the newlywed’s married life. These games serve as ice-breakers and help the bride feel more comfortable and welcome in her new home.
The reception is like a big welcome party thrown by the groom’s family. It’s where they officially introduce the bride to their side of the family and their friends. This event is a bit more formal and includes people who weren’t part of the wedding celebration.
In summary, Punjabi weddings are a lively blend of colorful traditions, joyous celebrations, and heartfelt rituals. From pre-wedding ceremonies like Roka and Mehendi to the grand rituals like Jaimala and Phere, each moment is filled with love and excitement. The post-wedding games add a playful touch, and the reception formally introduces the bride to the groom’s family. Attending a Punjabi wedding is like stepping into a lively festival, where families come together to celebrate the union of two souls with warmth, music, and laughter.
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