Overview of a Punjabi Wedding
Sat Sri Akaal!!!! Thanks for sneaking in to read my blog on Punjabi Wedding. I’m Vedika Dursheti – A makeup artist by profession. I’m very passionate about the different cultures in India, but I think with moving lifestyles people are forgetting their roots.
My blog series will introduce you to various rituals & customs in Indian Weddings and its relevance in our lives. There are various reasons why these customs were established in the first place and why do our ancestors follow them traditionally.
Punjab, a state of Sikhs. There are more than 30 million Sikhs worldwide. Sikhs are monotheists who believe in giving and receiving love to create a prosperous life.
As in every religion, marriage and family are considered as a primary duty of a Sikh. The marriage ceremony in Sikhs is called “Anand Karaj” which has been recognized by Indian government since 1909.
Sikhism strictly does not follow the practice of dowry.
Roka & Thaka
Parental consent is considered to be of utmost importance when it comes to a Sikh Wedding. As a flip side of the same coin in Sikh weddings, the father of the Bride visits the Groom’s place and expresses his approval by applying Tilak on the Groom’s forehead and presents him with gifts of sweets and clothes. Same is done by the family of the Groom to the Bride.
“Kurmai” refers to the formal engagement ceremony that takes place at the Groom’s house or at the Gurudwara. Close friends and family from both sides attend this event. Generally, the Groom presents a ring to the Bride who accepts the same.
The Bride’s family presents the Groom with a Kara, the mandatory steel bangle that Sikh men need to wear and a Kripan, a small knife that is a reminder of the Sikh’s heroic heritage. A red scarf is placed on the Groom’s shoulders, around his neck and a few dried dates are placed on the Groom’s hands. As per the instructions of the Granthi, the grandfather of the Bride feeds the dates to the Groom. After these formalities are over, all the guests are served with food and drink.
Generally, the weekend before the date of the Anand Karaj is fixed, readers from the family sit down at the house or at the gurudwara to read the entire Guru Granth Sahib within 48 hours’ time. The non-readers assist the reader by providing them with nourishments. Both the Bride and the Groom’s family hold this ritual separately. This event aims to explain to the Bride and Groom the importance of religion and the teachings from Guru Granth Sahib outlining the pious way of living.
Kirtan is a performance of religious music. Prior to Anand Karaj, the Sikhs consider it good omen to hold at least one Kirtan performance at their residence. Experienced musicians, known as “Raagis”, associated with the local gurudwara sing ‘Gurbani’ accompanied by tabla and harmoniums.
On the days leading up to the Anand Karaj, the family members visit the gurudwara daily to offer prayers. Next, they open the Guru Granth Sahib at a random page and start reading and reciting the prayers out loud.
Karah Prasad & Langar
A sweet prasad is made by the family members at the Gurudwara with semolina, flour, ghee and nuts. After completion of the prayers, the prasad is distributed among the attendees. The attendees also devour on community style meal at the Gurudwara known as “Langar”.
The bride’s family sends the Groom’s family gifts prior to the wedding. These gifts are presented in beautifully decorated trays and are carried by the Bride’s relatives to the Groom’s house. Generally, sweets, fruits, dry fruits, clothes and a coconut are included in the Shagan.
A few days before the Anand Karaj, the Groom’s female relatives visit the Bride’s place bringing her an outfit she is supposed to wear on her wedding day, including jewelry, accessories, makeup kits etc. The mother of the Groom covers the Bride’s head with a sanctified Headscarf or Chunni. This signifies that she has accepted the Bride to be a part of her family.
This is like the Haldi ceremony. The Bride/Groom is made to sit down on a stool and oil is applied to their hair while turmeric paste is applied on their body.
A red cloth is held over their heads with female relatives holding up each corner. Remaining female guests sing traditional wedding songs. The ceremony takes place on any of the preceding five days from the wedding.
Five days before the wedding, the “Karahi Chadana” ritual is observed by Sikh families. A large Karahi or Wok is set up at the kitchen and all the food items such as savory or sweets are cooked in that. Guests are served from the same vessel during these five days.
The Warna ritual is performed on the Bride and Groom by various family members on days before the wedding. Any amount of currency notes are waved around the Bride’s/Groom’s head clockwise and the money is then given away to charity. This is done to cast away any evil energy surrounding the would-be couple.
The next ritual is “Gana”, wherein a red thread is tied on the right wrist of the Groom and on the left wrist of the Bride. This is considered to protect them from ill omen.
The Bride or the Groom’s sister-in-law visits a nearby Gurudwara and fills up a special earthenware pot called “Gharoli” with holy water. She brings the water filled pot back to the house which is then used to bathe the bride/groom after their “Vatnaa”.
A paste is made of turmeric, barley and mustard by the women of the house. The Bride/Groom is made to sit on a low stool and the married women of the family anoint them with the specially prepared paste. Wedding songs are sung for the occasion and there is a general sense of merriment.
The Mehendi Ceremony is practiced two or three days before the wedding. Henna paste is applied to the Bride’s hands and feet in elaborately beautiful patterns. The women of the family gather for this occasion and have henna designs applied to their hands as well. There is copious amount of fun and festivities, with singing of traditional wedding songs.
Chooda and Kalire
The maternal uncle of the bride gifts her “Chooda”, a set of 21 red and white bangles. Prior to the ceremony, these bangles have to be sanctified by washing them with curd and rosewater. Once the Bride has worn the bangles, they are covered with a silk shawl so that she cannot see them. After the Chooda Ceremony, the relatives of the Bride come up to her and tie umbrella-shaped metallic ornaments called “Kalire” to her bangles and offer their blessings. All the unmarried friends and relatives of the Bride are lined up as she moves the Kalire over each girl’s head. It is believed that on whose ever head a Kalire falls, she will be the next one to get married.
On the day of the wedding, before the wedding party departs from the Groom’s home, the turban is tied around the Groom’s head by his father. He is handed over a fake sword by his father that he has to carry during all the wedding ceremonies. The sister of the Groom then ties the “Sehra”, a curtain made of golden ribbons or flowers or even string of pearls, around the turban and covering the Groom’s face.
Soorma and Kalgi
The Groom’s sister-in-law applies a black dot of kohl or Surma on the side of his forehead to ward off any negative energy from the Groom. The sister of the Groom then ties a piece of jewelry on his turban and stands between him and the door. She demands gifts in exchange for letting him go to the wedding. The Groom has to present her with a gift before he can leave for the wedding venue.
Traditionally speaking, the Groom is supposed to travel to the Bride’s place on a mare. Nowadays, the Groom takes a car for the most part of the journey and before entering the wedding venue mounts the mare, which is decorated with golden ribbons and other trimmings. Relatives and friends of the Groom accompany him to the wedding venue. Music and Bhangra dance is an integral part of a “Baraat”. Generally, a band is hired to provide the music to which the Baraatis dance.
The baraat is welcomed at the gate of the wedding venue, which is traditionally the Gurudwara, by the Bride’s side. They are welcomed in by the Bride’s side who sing hymns and utter their faith in God’s workings. Mostly men participate in the “Milni” event mediated by a priest. As each member of the Baraat is introduced, the Bride’s side offers them a garland and a warm hug.
Anand Karaj literally means “Blissful Union”. The ceremony takes place at the Gurudwara prayer hall during the daytime or during afternoons. The Guru Granth Sahib is placed at a site of prominence and the marriage ceremony is designed around it. The Bride and the Groom sit side-by-side – Bride being on the left side of the Groom, facing the Guru Granth Sahib. The ceremony starts with the couple and their parents standing up to offer “Ardaas” to “Waheguru”, after which singing of Shabads or hymns is done. The marriage can be performed by any “Amritdhari Sikh”, that is someone who had undergone the Amrit Initiation in Sikhism.
He explains to the couple the significance of the marriage, the duties that each need to perform within the sacred relationship, and the general idea of leading a pious life according to Sikh tenets. The couple then bows down before the Guru Granth Sahib. The father of the Bride places a saffron colored scarf on the Groom’s shoulder and the other end of the same on his daughter’s hand. Thus, they are joined and ready to take the Lavaas or vows of marriage.
The person conducting the marriage recites the four Lavaa or stanzas from the Guru Granth Sahib. After he has completed reading the first stanza, the couple rises from their seats and slowly walks around the Guru Granth Sahib in clockwise direction, with the Groom leading the Bride. After completion of the round they come back to their positions but remain standing for the remaining three hymns. The process of circumambulation is repeated three more times after each Lavaa. The raagis sing the Lavaas in the background while the couple performs the Pheras.
After completion of the Lavan Pheras, the raagis sing out the hymns of Anand Sahib. An Ardaas is offered as an indication that the wedding ceremony is now complete. A random Hymn from the Guru Granth Sahib is chosen to be recited while Khatah Prasad is distributed among all the attendees.
At the end of the wedding ceremony, the guests and the attendees are served delicious vegetarian lunch at the Gurudwara’s congregational hall. Thereafter, a ceremony called Roti takes place, which signifies the Bride’s first meal as a married woman. Her in-laws cover the platter with a cloth and present it to the Bride along with some cash gift. The Bride shares this meal with the Groom.
The Bride changes her wedding outfit and gets dressed in the outfit and jewelry gifted to her by the Groom’s side. Elders of the family bless the Bride with cash gifts and wishes of Sada Suhagan, meaning may the Bride be lucky to never experience widowhood.
Doli and Vidaai
The Bride prepares to leave her parent’s house. “Doli” refers to a wooden palanquin that was used to carry around women in olden days. Today, it is symbolic of the Bride’s departure from her paternal home. The Bride throws rice grains over her shoulders and into her mother’s outstretched hands, thus wishing her parent’s eternal prosperity. She gets into a beautifully decorated car with her husband and drives away towards her new home.
A grand reception party is hosted by the Groom’s side to honor the newly-wed couple. Family and friends are invited to enjoy a lavish meal along with ample opportunity to have fun singing and dancing. For the music part, Dhol and Nagade are played at the venue as a part of celebration. Whereas lite music or DJ is also preferred based on the ambiance and audience.
Punjabi Brides are normally dressed in Reds, Ivory, Maroons, Peachs, Fushia Pinks, Golds or Greens. It is mandatory that they are supposed to have a dupatta on their head and shoulder after Haldi till once both the families are together. From a long time, these Brides only wore reds to the Laavan Phere (A ritual of making 4 circles to their heavenly Guru Grant Saheb) which normally happens in the Gurudwaras. But now with upcoming fashion and various celebrities showcasing their statement Bridal dresses, more colors are now being worn to Laavan Phere. Punjabi Brides either wear a Salwar Kameez or a Lehenga choli with a blouse longer than the usual.
As a part of Bridal Jewelry, a Punjabi Bride has a lot of Kundan Jewelry, with a tint of Diamonds and Pearls. Typical Punjabi Jewelry is pretty repetitive and as follows:
This concludes my blog on “Punjabi Wedding”. Hope you liked it. You may also be interested in few of my other blogs as well. If Yes, then please go ahead and click on the button below to find all my blogs. Happy Reading!!!!