Punjabi’s are generally considered to be the most fun-loving and generous community among most other Indian communities. They believe in living life king size that is why they are also one of the most prosperous communities of the country. Punjabis have made their presence conspicuous in almost all spheres of life, be it business, agriculture, service, food or weddings. We all are aware of the high spirited, fun loving and dynamic Punjabi people, and their enthusiasm reflects on their wedding as well. They are simple yet fun-loving people who believe in expressing their emotion with gusto. They are probably a little more expressive than some of the other Indian ethnic races.
The rituals followed in the Punjabi wedding are very lively. From “London Thumakda” to “Proper Patola” Punjabi weddings have their own grace and elegance. The Dhol, Bhangra, Late Baraat, Cocktail, Punjabi Cuisines, elegant outfits, all sums up to a grand Punjabi wedding ceremony. They love to party especially the aunties shall never let you get bored in the celebration with their endless laughter and jokes and dance being the compulsory part of the celebrations. Punjabi marriages are quite colorful, loud, fun filled with opportunities for singing and dancing one’s heart out. Punjabi weddings may be simple or lavish, but they ensure unlimited fun and celebration. A host of pre and post wedding rituals make a Punjabi wedding a lengthy and enjoyable affair. From classy lehengas to the noisy baraat and the baratis, the ‘dance till you drop’ Sangeet to the extremely friendly and warmly-welcoming host, a Punjabi wedding is equivalent to a true roller-coaster. Let’s have a look of the various rituals that are followed in the Punjabi weddings.
The marriage ceremony can be divided into three sections – Pre Wedding, Wedding and Post Wedding. Pre Wedding rituals consist of Roka and Thaka, Sagai, Shagun and Chunni Chadai, Sangeet, Mehendi, Jago. Wedding Day Rituals includes Gana Bandhna, Chooda Chadana, Haldi, Ghara Gharoli, Sehrabandi and Varna, Agwaani and Milni, Madhuperk, Kanyadaan, Phere, Lajahom, Sindoor Daan. Post wedding, they have ceremonies like Vidaai/Doli, Paani Bharna, Mooh Dikhai, Reception and Pag Phera.
Pre Wedding Ceremonies:
- Roka and Thaka – Roka Ceremony is a simple event which is usually attended by close family. This ceremony involves the bride’s family visiting the groom, in absence of their daughter, and giving the groom shagun. Some families opt to begin the ceremony with a small puja to mark the first step towards the wedding. This is followed by the groom and his family visiting the bride, which is often referred to as the thaka ceremony. The couple are given a shagun together. There is often an exchange of gifts and sweets such as fruit, Indian sweets or dry fruits. The significance of this ceremony is to declare that the couple are officially engaged, thus they can openly court. It represents the beginning of a relationship between two families, who will then discuss the wedding date. Initially this had been a low-key affair that was conducted at the respective homes of the bride and groom. However, nowadays, it has become quite popular and the respective families hold the function in a banquet hall or hotel venue.
- Sagai – Sagai ceremony, also known as mangni, marks the official engagement between the couple. The ceremony is often celebrated in a grand way before a couple of months of the wedding. Family members and friends gather from both the bride’s and the groom’s sides. In this function, the bride is served boiled rice and milk by the groom’s family. The couple then exchanges rings. The sagai ceremony makes the match an official one.
- Shagun and Chunni Chadai – The Chunni ceremony is performed to mark the acceptance of the bride into the groom’s family. On the morning of the Sagai or a day before, a group of women arrives at the bride’s house. They bring with them the attire that the bride is going to wear for the Sagai along with jewelry, sweets, fruits. The special part of the ceremony is the gift which is a beautifully decorated head scarf or Chunni. The Chunni is placed on the bride’s head and her face is covered with it.The bride is then gifted jewelleries like bangles or necklaces by her mother-in-law that are the inheritance of the family. A dot of henna is applied on her palm to mark the ceremony auspicious. These gifts which are given to the bride are known as Shagun.
- Sangeet – A musical party arranged by the bride’s family is known as sangeet. It’s a tradition where the female members of the family get together and sit surrounding the bride. Together they enjoy singing folk wedding songs, dancing and teasing the bride. Many of them invite the groom and a few of his family members to participate in this ceremony. In present times, the sangeet is a special event where both the families get together to enjoy a fun-filled musical evening. From both sides of the family, the groups present dance performances. In this way, both the families get acquainted with each other.
- Mehendi – Mehendi is the most essential and vital part of Punjabi wedding ceremonies. The bride sits down on a special stool and henna paste is applied to her hands and feet. Previously, family members used to apply the henna paste but nowadays professional mehendi artists are hired. At the groom’s place the same mehendi ceremony is observed but at a smaller scale. Traditional wedding songs are sung during the whole ceremony.
- Jago – Before the wedding day, the family stays up till late at night and Jago is celebrated till the early hours of the morning. A copper khada is decorated with clay lamps. The aunts of both the bride and the groom carry the vessel on their head while another lady will try to shake it with a long stick having bells attached. The ladies sing Punjabi wedding songs and visit houses of friends and relatives who feed them sweets. All of them dance before moving on to the next house.
Wedding Day ceremonies:
- Gana Bandhna – On the wedding day, at their respective houses, the bride and the groom attend a puja in the morning. Once the puja is done, the priest ties a sacred thread or mouli to their right wrists. The thread is tied around a betel nut and a shell known as Kaudi. The thread is knotted multiple times around the wrists to make it hard to untie later.
- Chooda Chadana – A set of red and ivory bangles generally in a set of multiples of four is known as Chooda. The eldest maternal uncle of the bride plays a vital role in this ceremony. He sits for a havan during which the chooda are purified in a mixture containing milk and rose petals. The head and face of the bride is covered during the ceremony as she is not supposed to see the chooda until the moment of her wedding. The maternal uncle and aunt slip the chooda into the bride’s hands. Other elderly members touch the chooda and give their blessings. The bride is also gifted her wedding Lehenga by her maternal uncle at this time.
- Haldi – During this ceremony, four diyas or lamps are lit and the bride sits on a low wooden stool facing them. A paste is prepared consisting of sandalwood, turmeric, rosewater and mustard oil and is applied all over the bride’s body especially face, hands and feet by the married ladies of the family. A similar ceremony is also observed at the groom’s house.
- Ghara Gharoli – In this ritual, the bride visits a nearby temple and is bather with holy water. The same ritual is also done by the groom.
- Sarbala – A kid member of the family is chosen for this ritual where the member is dressed similar to the groom. He then accompanies the groom to the wedding.
- Sehrabandi and Varna – The groom dresses up in his wedding attire. A small puja is performed in his honor. The turban and the Sehra is sanctified by the priest in this puja. The turban and the Sehraare tied around the groom’s head by an elder male member of the family.
- Ghodi Charna – The groom is all decked up and sets off for the wedding venue by riding a horse. The horse is also decorated and tika is applied on his forehead. The horse is fed chana dal and water by the female relatives of the groom. The groom’s sister-in-law applies surma to the groom’s eyes and then the groom mounts the horse in a traditional manner. He is then accompanied by members of his family who sets off for the wedding venue along with him. The wedding procession is accompanied by a band that plays peppy music and the members of the wedding procession dance to it’s tune.
- Agwaani and Milni – After the groom arrives at the wedding venue along with the family, they are welcomed by the bride’s family. This ritual when the groom and his family arrive at the wedding venue is known as Agwaani. The groom is then welcomed by the mother of the bride with a traditional arti and tika on the forehead. They greet each other and are welcomed inside the venue. This ritual is known as Milni.
- Varmala – The groom is led towards the stage and is made to stand upon a small pedestal. The bride arrives at the stage and the couple exchange garlands. This is a ceremony where there is competition among the two sides to lift either the bride or the groom higher so that the other cannot put the garland over his or her head.
- Madhuperk – The bride and groom then proceed to the wedding mandap and the groom is offered a small bowl of water that he has to drink. He sprinkles some on his feet and drinks the rest. He is then offered a special concoction made with honey, curd, milk, ghee and other sacred essences. This is known as the Madhuperk. The groom is to take a sip off this drink before the wedding rituals commence.
- Kanyadaan – During this ritual, the bride is given away by his parents to the groom. He requests the groom through mantras to take good care of his daughter and the groom accepts the bride’s hand and promises her father that he will treat her with love and respect throughout his life.
The wedding havan is lit. The fire deity is the foremost witness of a wedding. The groom is handed over a plate which has fourteen parallel lines drawn on a bed of flour with a flower. The lines symbolize fourteen vows of a marriage. The priest outlines these vows one by one through Vedic mantras; the groom repeats after him and erases one line with a flower bud.
- Phere– Next, the couple gets up. The ends of their dupattas are tied in a knot and they encircle the sacred fire four times. For the first three times, the bride precedes the groom and for the final phera she has to follow the groom.
- Lajahom – The bride’s brother pours puffed rice into her cupped hands. The bride and the groom then offer this to the fire together and seek the Fire God’s blessings. This ritual is repeated thrice.
- Sindoor Daan – The groom applies sindoor to the bride’s hair parting and ties the Mangalsutra around her neck. This completes the wedding rituals.
- Joota Chhupai – When the groom is busy with the wedding rituals, the bride’s sisters take hold of his shoes and hide them. The bride’s sisters demand a ransom for returning the shoes. There is a lot of bargaining involved between the two parties and they come to an agreement. The groom has to pay the agreed upon amount in order to get back his shoes and move from the mandap.
- Vidaai/Doli – The bride bids a tearful goodbye to her family and throws handful of rice over her shoulder in her family’s direction. This way she expresses her gratitude towards them for taking care of her for so long. She is then sent off in a decorated car to her husband’s home. This return bridal procession is known as Doli.
- Paani Bharna – On arrival of the Doli, the groom’s mother does an arti of the bride with a pitcher of water. After each circle, the mother-in-law attempts to take a sip of water, but the bride prevents her from drinking. She finally relents after the seventh circle. She then crosses the threshold after overturning a pot of rice with her right feet.
- Mooh Dikhai – The couple is then taken to seek the blessings of the family deity. The bride is seated and her veil is lifted for all of her family and friends to see. The elders of the family then shower their blessings on the bride and give her gifts of cash and jewelry.
- Reception – A lavish reception party is thrown by the groom’s family in honor of the newlyweds. A Punjabi reception is an occasion of immense joy with delicious meals and high-spirited music.
- Pag Phera– The bride returns to her parent’s home with her husband. The parents welcome their daughter and son-in-law with a grand lunch. The couple has to spend the night at her parent’s place. The next day she returns to her husband’s home with a lot of gifts for her in-laws. This marks the end of the wedding celebrations.
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