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Punjabi Wedding, Punjabi Marriage

Punjab is perhaps the most colorful state of India. Punjabis are generally known as large-hearted cheerful people and they live their life joyously and vigorously. People out here believe in enjoying every single moment of their lives. No doubt their marriage ceremonies are one big carnival gaieties and jubilation. The culture of Punjab is very rich and the people are so attached to their land that they have still preserved their tradition in it's very original form. Punjabi wedding vibrates with the popular songs of marriage - those of Dholaki, Goriyan and Suhag.

Punjabi Wedding Characteristics
Marriages are elaborate affairs for Punjabis. They follow a number of rituals and perform music and dance programmes on every evening till the wedding day. The norm is that they gather in the holy presence of Guru Granth Sahib. They follow the usual Hindu wedding rites like those of Phera around the havan and Kanyadan. Other merry-making rituals like Ladies Sangeet and Juta Chepai also abound in it.

Matchmaking among Punjabis involve looking into the caste and descent of the prospective boy or the girl. Punjabis marry their daughter and son within the community only. Though relations among different castes and communities are increasingly being accepted by them and it is commendable about them. Horoscopes are consulted to see which day is auspicious for the marriage.

Wedding Costumes

Bride Costume
A few hours before the arrival of the groom, a Punjabi bride wears for the occasion a traditional brilliant salwar-kameez. She also puts on the jewellery and 'tikka' - a glitzy pendent on her head. To add to the charm, she plays coy with the heavily embroidered "dupatta" draped around her head and shoulders.

Groom Costume
The bride's dress essentially consist of bright auspicious colors like red, orange and magenta, the groom may dress up in a formal suit or a achkan safari suit, preferably of light color. A small cousin wearing a similar outfit who is called sarbala , accompanies the groom on the mare. The sarbala is to be the groom's protector.

As the groom leaves home on the mare, his bhabhi put's surma (kajal) in his eyes and his cousins and sister feed the mare with "chane ki dal ". While the sisters perform all these ceremonies, the mother of the groom and other elderly relatives keep small amount of money separately for the varna from time to time in order to protect the groom from evil eyes or bad omens. The bride's dress essentially consist of bright auspicious colors like red, orange and magenta, the groom may dress up in a formal suit or a achkan safari suit, preferably of light color. A small cousin wearing a similar outfit who is called sarbala , accompanies the groom on the mare. The sarbala is to be the groom's protector.

Punjabi Wedding Rituals

Rituals Before Marriage
Once the match has been decided between a boy and a girl, the first of the galore of ceremonies begin. A date for the Roka is fixed. For this all such consideration is taken as those of an auspicious time found out by a pundit. In Roka the parents of both the sides, brothers and sisters assemble at the girl's house. Both the families give gifts to each other. Roka signifies that the boy and the girl are affianced to each other. An auspicious day for the marriage is fixed after the Roka ceremony. Sagan is the first ceremony in a set of long wedding rituals. In this ceremony, the two families exchange gifts and conform the engagement. The day for the Sagan is usually fixed on a day close to the wedding day. The idea is to have all the relatives of both the sides remaining present in the ceremony. Sagan generally takes place at the boy's house. On this occasion, the norm is that the girl's father applies tikka on the boy's forehead. Then the boy takes blessings from the girl's family members. The girl's family give gifts to the boy and his family to mark this occasion.

Sagan has the Ladies Sangeet following close on its heel. This is one enviable feature of Punjabi wedding that has all the relatives and friends of the family rejoicing and joining into add the color of the occasion. All are invited in these evenings of jubilation, irrespective of age and gender. But the songs and dances typically center around the to be bride. The lyrics describe the ordeals of the newly married girl at her "sasural". Also hot on the sangeet programme are the ballads of love by Waris Shah. And one day is specially kept when both the families meet and celebrate the main Ladies Sangeet day.

"Churha" or the bangles' ceremony is a significant ceremony. The girl's maternal uncle gives the wedding dress. In this, the bride's maternal uncle and aunt (mama and mami) adorn her wrists with red and white bangles. On these bangles are tied the "Kalira" - light ornaments of beaten silver and gold, which makes it impossible for the bride to perform any household task, as the kaliras get in the way. Custom has it that just at the time of departure of the doli, the bride is supposed to hit with her kaliras one of the brother or sister who stand bidding tearful farewell to her. The one to be so hit is supposed to get wedded next. Mehendi (hena) is applied to the bride after the Churha ceremony. As per the norm mehendi is applied on the girl's hands and feet. The women folk of the house, friends and relatives sing and dance to mark the occasion. It is customary that the boy's family sends the mehendi.

Vatna & Uptan
Before bath, the girl is applied Vatna (mixture of turmeric powder and mustard oil). The friends and relatives also put vatna to each other's bodies in fun and frivolity. The uptan (application) is believed to purify the girl. The boy at his place is also applied a mixture of turmeric and oil (uptan) by his sisters and bhabhi.

One of the most important rituals is the Sehrabandi. This ritual takes place before the boy leaves for the bride's house. The Sehra is tied on the boy's head either by the boy's father or an elderly relative. The sehra is tied over the turban. Varmala is one interesting ritual where the bride and groom exchange garlands. Traditionally the girl has to put the garland around the boy's neck.

Marriage Rituals

The groom comes riding horse in a Punjabi wedding. His friends and relatives accompany him in a procession or the "Baraat". The "ladkewale" or the boy's people reach the bride's house amidst of exhilaration and excitement. Gents and ladies give way to gay abandon doing Bhangra dances all the way.

The time for the "pherey" or the actual wedding comes late in the evening. On this occasion, the boy and the girl are made to sit in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhs' holy book. The brief ceremony of the circumambulation of the Granth Sahib ends with the reading of the ardas, a rousing salutation to the ten gurus of the Sikhs. Bride's father puts a ring on the boy's finger and then he gives his daughter to the boy. This ritual is known as the Kanyadaan. It is after the kanyadaan that the pheras begin. The groom's sister ties the bride's sari to the boy's pagdi (turban). The bride's chunni has at one of its end a small knot containing meva, chuara, mishri, badam and silver coin. At the time of ongoing marriage the boy's sister-in-laws hide away his shoes in a ritual called Juta Chepai. They ask the boy for money in exchange for the shoes.

Rituals After Marriage

Doli is the last of all ceremonies. It marks 'saying farewell' to the bride. So, the lights stand glimmering as the crying relatives of the daughter of the house goes on to her new home.

It is customary that the bride returns to her paternal home with her husband next day. There takes place a feast for just married couple and they are given sweets and gifts.

Punjabi Wedding Celebration

Dance & Music
The wedding songs feature almost throughout the marriage ceremony. It is one enviable feature of Punjabi wedding. As the marriage party comes to the bride's house, the assembled ladies and girls start singing songs full of wit and sarcasm. A few days before marriage, women get together daily at night and sing to the accompaniment of the dholaki. Songs called ghorian are sung at the bridegroom's house. At the bride's house suhag is being is sung.

Punjabi Food
Punjabi are food lovers. Popular dishes at a Punjabi wedding would include vegetable pulao, channa bhatura, panner dishes, tandoori chicken, sweets like Gulab Jamun, Rasagulla, ice-cream. Besides, Dahi Valle, Papri Chaat and other seasonal vegetables dishes are always found.

Indian Weddings