Weddings are the Best times for everyone to come together and celebrate this auspicious union of two beautiful people. How fondly we address THE BIG FAT PUNJABI WEDDING as the name suggests Punjabi weddings are filled with rituals and a whole lot of functions. Do you remember any movie where you didn’t find a Punjabi wedding scene really exciting and fun filled? I’m Sure it’s a NO NO Every time when we talk or think about Punjabi weddings, we just remember the cheerful faces, fun filled rituals and goody attires and loud dance. Different rituals different people come together celebrate life ceremonies and spread smiles n laughter and bring people closer.
Let’s have a quick look at the different rituals:-
1) ROKA CEREMONY
Similar to the Roka ceremony in Hindu Wedding, this event is said to be the first step of the wedding. Roka ceremony is all about the official announcement that both the boy and the girl has given their consent for getting married to each other. For me, this ceremony was always like a marking put on the boy and the girl that they are now “booked and engaged”. Generally people invite their family and friends in this ceremony. Gifts are exchanged between the two families and sweets are distributed. These wedding favour gifts usually include sweets, fruit baskets, dry fruits, clothes and other assortments.
2) TAKA CEREMONY
The word Taka means to ‘set the date,’ this ceremony takes place in the house of the bride. This is next thing after Roka ceremony, when both the families meet and sit together to fix the date of wedding. This ceremony generally takes place at bride’s place to fix the wedding date and start the preparation of other important ceremonies.
This is formal engagement ceremony, which is generally done at grooms place or any venue. In this ceremony, all the family members from both the families are invited and groom present the engagement ring to bride. After the exchange of ring the bride’s family offers Kara to the groom as ritual. Generally, the engagement ceremony starts with a short prayer by the priest. After this short prayer, red scarf is places around the groom’s shoulder along with dried dates according to priest’s instructions and then grandfather feeds that dried dates to the groom. After this ritual both families enjoy the meal.They will invite their family and friends. Traditionally, only men from the girl’s family would come but now anyone comes, except the girl – who is not meant to go to her in-laws before marriage, at least that is the traditional custom!
4) CHUNNI CEREMONY
This auspicious ceremony is performed by mother of the groom who covers the head of the bride with a red scarf or chunni which signifies that from now on the bride-to-be is responsible for upholding the honour and pride of the groom’s family. The bride is also wears the clothes and jewelery brought by her in-laws and the groom marks her head with sindoor or vermilion as a sign of commitment. Sweets as shagun are also offered by groom’s parents to the family of the bride as blessings as a token of love and appreciation. Gifts are also exchanged between the two family followed by a grand celebration with a lot of music and dance.
5) MAIYA (CLEANSING & PURIFYING)
A five-day event, Maiya takes place in families of both bride and the groom. During this event, oil is poured into the hair of the bride and groom with olive branches, and their bodies are massaged with turmeric powder. The bride and the groom also apply a small portion of this sacred paste on their unmarried friends and siblings. It is said that whoever gets touched by this paste will soon find a good looking partner. Girls performing Maiya have red string or a thread tied around their wrist; and a red scarf is held above the bride or groom’s head, which girls from the family take turns to hold while the traditional songs are sung.
6) GHARA GHAROLI
After completion of the Haldi ceremony, the dried haldi paste is scrubbed off from the bride’s face and body. She is then taken to a nearby temple where she is bather with pitchers full of holy water. This ritual is known as Ghara Gharoli. She then performs a prayer to the deity of the temple asking for blessings. She returns to her home and takes a proper shower and starts getting ready in her wedding finery. The same ritual is also observed by the groom’s side.
Mehendi is an indispensable part of Punjabi wedding ceremony. The bride sits down on a special stool and henna paste is applied to her hands and feet. Bride and groom, both get the design made on their hand and feet with henna mixed with eucalyptus oil, clove oil and lemon juice water. The henna designs are intricate and elaborate, and the groom’s initials are hidden amidst the various patterns. Upon drying gives a dark red color. It is believed the darker the colour of the mehndi is, the more love the bride will receive at her in-laws. Previously, family members used to apply the henna paste but nowadays professional mehendi artists are hired. Other female members of the family also get henna applied to their hands. At the groom’s place the same mehendi ceremony is observed but at a smaller scale. Generally, a very simple henna design is applied to the groom’s palms. Traditional wedding songs are sung during the whole ceremony. This is also seen as an opportunity to play dholak and performing folk dance and songs by the ladies.
On the morning of the wedding day, at their respective houses, the bride and the groom attend a puja. The ceremony marks the tying of a red thread on the left wrist of the bride and the right wrist of the groom. Along with this, several auspicious items like cowrie shells, iron key chain, pearls and a small pouch of sugar are also tied to the wrist for good fortune. The mouli is tied around a betel nut and a shell known as Kaudi. It is knotted multiple times around the wrists to make it difficult to untie later.
9) Choodah Ceremony
In this unique ceremony, the uncle of the bride gifts her choodah which is a set of 21 bangles of red and cream colour. This choodah is then bathed in yogurt milk and rosewater. The girl’s maternal uncle or brother helps her to wear choodah, set of white and red bangles. The head and face of the bride is covered during the ceremony as she is not supposed to see the choodah until the moment of her wedding. After this ritual, Flower petals are showered on the bride. She is also gifted her wedding Lehenga by her maternal uncle at this time. The sister-in-law, friends and sisters of the bride then ties in the Kalire around her wrist or to one of her bangles which are umbrella-shaped ornaments that are often encrusted with coconut, dry fruits or dried betel nuts.