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Punjabi weddings are known for their extravagant celebrations and they usually stretch over a week with an array of pre and post wedding functions.
Pre Wedding Rituals
Roka: This is an informal engagement and is done in presence of the elders of the family once a suitable match is found. This ceremony usually takes place at the girl’s home and involves a small puja. Gifts are exchanged between families and the girl’s maternal uncle gifts her a nose ring which she has to wear at her wedding and an auspicious date for the wedding date is fixed shortly after the roka.
Sagai: This is a ceremony where the groom and his family formally ask for the girl’s hand for marriage. This ritual takes place at the boy’s home. The girl’s family carries beautifully packed gifts to the boy’s home along with a few grains of rice and a tiny bowl of saffron, fourteen dried dates covered with silver foil and a coconut wrapped in gold leaf for the ceremony. The girl’s father then applies tikka on the groom’s forehead and blesses him. He also gives him some money as a sign of good luck. The groom’s family in return gift’s the girl’s family with baskets of seven different types of dried fruits. At this occasion, the bride-to-be is drapped with chunni (stole) and gifted jewellery which her mother-in-law and sister-in-law help her to wear. As a sign of good luck, a tiny dot of mehendi is applied to her palm and the function ends with the exchange of rings.
Sangeet: This ceremony closely follows the Sagai. It is a fun ritual which involves celebrating the joyous occasion. This function is hosted by the girl’s family and close family members of the groom are invited.
Mehendi: This is a ladies function and takes place separately at the bride and the groom’s place. Close female relatives are invited and everyone gets heena applied on their palms. According to traditions, the future mother-in-law of the bride is supposed to send the heena for the bride.
Vatan: This a ceremony which takes place close to the wedding where the bride and groom are applied a scented paste of sandalwood and turmeric powder along with mustard oil. The ceremony takes place at their respective houses and is believed to purify the individual.
Chura: This is the bangle ceremony which is carried out by the bride’s maternal uncle. The uncle helps the bride to put on a set of red and white ivory bangles. A small puja is performed by the priest at this occasion. The maternal uncle gift’s the bride-to-be with her wedding dress at this function.
Ghara Ghardoli: This ritual takes place in the morning, on the day of the wedding. The ritual involves the sister-in-law of the groom to visit a nearby temple and carry a pitcher of holy water for his bath. The same ceremony takes place at the girl’s home where the bride’s sibling or sibling’s spouse performs this ritual.
Sehrabandi: This ritual takes place just as the groom is ready and about to leave for the wedding. The groom’s father ties the Sehra to his forehead. All the people present in the ceremony are supposed to bless the groom and gift him money as a token of good luck.
Ghodi Chadna: This is the final ceremony which takes place at the groom’s home before he leaves for the wedding. The groom’s sister-in-law lines his eye with surma and his sisters and cousins deck and feed his mare. A small ceremony called Varna is performed where cash is given to the poor. This is said to ward off evil eye.
Baraat: This is the wedding procession and is fun and lively with Bhangra dancers and dhol players. The groom’s family members and close friends are a part of this procession. The bride’s family welcomes every member of the groom’s family when the procession arrives at the wedding venue.
Varmala: This is the exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom.
Pherey: Punjabi weddings usually take place late in the evening. The bride and the groom are made to sit in front of the holy book and a brief ceremony follows. The bride’s father puts a ring on the groom’s finger and then hands his daughter over to the groom. This is known as Kanyadan. The Kanyadan is followed by the Pheras. The bride’s chunni has a small knot tied at one end. The knot contains meva, chuara, mishri, badam and a silver coin.
Another fun ritual is the Juta Chepai. During the marriage the groom’s sister-in-laws hide and ask for money from the groom in exchange for the shoes.
Post Wedding Rituals
Vidaai: This is parting ceremony post the wedding when the bride leaves her family. The ceremony is marked by her throwing puffed rice over her head, while her relatives throw coins during this procession.
The bride departs from the wedding venue in a doli. It is a tearful occasion as her family bids her farewell.
Pani Bharna: This is the welcome ceremony for the newly wedded couple at the groom’s home. The bride is supposed to use her right leg to kick small pots of mustard oil placed on the either side of the door way and the couple takes blessings from all the older members present.
Phera dalna: According to the custom, the newly wedded couple is supposed to visit the bride’s house on the day after the wedding. The bride’s brother goes to fetch the couple and there is a feast planned for the couple.