Weddings held in and around and North of Delhi can safely be called Punjabi weddings. A lot of communities across India have been influenced by the Punjabi wedding culture over the years and have adopted similar celebrations. The Punjabi wedding is characterized by pomp and grandeur and is by no means a solemn and silent affair; A Punjabi wedding is dotted with fun filled rituals, celebrations and parties night after night. A Mehendi lunch function had a DJ, shenai players, dholak beaters and an Army band all playing by rotation, of course the bloody marys and beer were flowing (and the wedding had not even begun)! The large hearted Punjabis ensure that their weddings are laced with fun, frolic and a carnival tadka. Want to know a bit more, read below:
ROKA can be explained as being a pre engagement ceremony attended by both families of the bride and groom. The Roka symbolizes the couple having found their soul mates and an acceptance from both sides of the family to the wedding at hand. This is followed by the SHAGAN which can be liked to the main engagement; here the bride’s family visits the groom’s family with gifts and sweets. The next function to be held is the CHUNNI and now it is the turn of the groom’s family to call on the bride’s parents. The bride is presented with a red sari and chunni and jewellery. There also may be a RING CEREMONY thrown in. Both families are now well introduced and the stage ready for the main functions to begin!
The SANGEET is held individually on both the boy and girls side of the family. In the earlier days, the ladies would sit together and sing bhajans accompanied by the dholki. At the girls end the songs used to jest about the groom and his family and also speak about the bride leaving her family. This has now been replaced to a one evening blast in most cases which is a social warm up to the wedding and is attended my both men and women alike.
The bhajans have been replaced with peppy Punjabi numbers often metted out by a DJ and a dance floor is almost a must. Bhangra dance movements are most common on the floor and the evening normally starts and ends late. Gold and diamonds dazzle on the ladies while the gents flock around the bar. Lately, wedding planners have been planning very different themes for sangeet parties. The evening is not meant for the faint hearted, be prepared to shout your way through!
The MEHENDI ceremony is held at the brides place normally a day before the wedding ceremony. A Henna paste is used to paint the brides hand and feet in exquisite designs and patterns. The bride normally would not step out of her parent’s home till the wedding day after Mehendi. The mehendi paste takes on a deep orange colour a day after it is applied.
It is believed that the deeper the colour, the more the in-laws would love their bride. Mehendi is auspicious and represents love and a strong wedded relationship. Other ladies from the family also apply mehendi and don colourful bangles during the ceremony.
The Wedding day is loaded with small ceremonies on both sides through the day. The BATNA function at the grooms end is a fun filled ceremony when all his relatives smear him with haldi. The PAGRI ceremony takes place before the baraat departs to the girl’s home or wedding place with all the grooms’ relatives donning a common headgear. A final pooja called the SEHRA BANDHI is done prior to leaving; this involves decorating the groom with elaborate headgear and covering his face. Many of the grooms sit on a horse before entering the wedding venue. The final approach to the venue is on foot and accompanied by loud dholaks and frenzied dancing by the grooms family and friends. On reaching the entrance of the wedding venue, the MILNI ceremony is conducted where immediate relatives of both the bride and bridegroom exchange garlands and shagan with their counterparts.
The Milni being done, the groom walks towards a special seating area where the bride joins him. They exchange garlands, this mini ceremony being called the JAI MALA and then family and friends give the couple gifts and pose for photographs. The invitees meet the couple and enjoy eating snacks and dinner. While this is on, we approach the actual wedding ceremony called PHERAS which is conducted around a havan kund. The immediate family and the bride and groom sit around the fire while a Hindu priest gets the wedding rites completed while chanting mantras. The pheras are complete and the wedding legitimized with the bride and groom having walked around the havan kund 7 times.
The VIDAAI is the finale of the wedding ceremonies and signifies the bride leaving her parents for the final time. It is a tearful farewell as she and the groom leave the venue in a decorated car. The brides brother accompanies her to the grooms house after the Vidaai.
But wait, this is still not the end, the bride is now welcomed into her new home by her in-laws doing the SWAGAT ceremony. The following day is the MOOH DIKHAI ceremony where relatives of the groom meet the new bride and give her their blessings and presents. The couple normally also make a final visit to the brides place a day after the wedding.
The groom’s family invite their friends and relatives to a grand RECEPTION. This is normally a dinner invitation. Those not invited for the earlier functions (the baraat is normally limited to close family and friends) attend and bless the couple. Many wedding planners in India plan exotic Punjabi weddings. If you haven’t been to a Punjabi wedding before, you now know what to expect!