Punjabi’s are known for their zest for life and their wedding celebrations reflect this with vivid colour. bhangra dancing and laughter, which is very much a part of their celebrations. Offerings of money are richly featured in Punjabi weddings which are regarded as lucky sums.
This refers to the engagement ceremony. Rokka ceremony is first in the series of Punjabi wedding rituals. It is a simple ceremony, which is attended by both the bride and groom’s family and usually takes place at the bride’s home. The ceremony consists of a simple pooja followed by an exchange of gifts between the two families. After this ceremony they are free to court each other.
Sagan and Chunni Chtzdana
Nowadays these ceremonies are celebrated together and are usually conducted in a banquet hall or a club due to large number of members. The father of the bride applies tilak (made of kesar, rice grains and flower petals) on the forehead of the groom and gives gifts to him and his family members. The bride is dressed in clothes and jewellery that have been presented to her by her future in-laws. She is also presented a red chunni (scarf) by the sister/sister-in-law of her future husband. The bride’s future mother- in-law feeds her boiled rice and milk as part of the ritual. Later, the prospective bride and groom exchange rings. Each of the relatives and friends present from the girl’s side then offer mithai (sweets) to the groom and give him money.
This is when the fun starts. Friends and family of the both the bride and groom hold singing sessions in their own home where traditional wedding songs are sung. Both families come together and exchange gifts, games are played and a feast is prepared. The bride’s family then teases the groom and his family about how fortunate they are to have found this bride. The groom’s family has a chance to retaliate and hold a sangeet in his family home. All is done in jest. Nowadays, families may have a DJ or live entertainment where lots of dancing takes place.
As a ritual, mehndi or henna is sent by the future mother-in-law of the bride. This mehndi is applied on the hands and feet of the bride by a relative, friend or a professional mehndiwali. The bride’s close friends and close female relatives dance joyously while the mehndi is being applied to her. They also apply henna on their hands. After the mehndi application, the bride’s family enjoys a feast.
There are many similarities in the initial stages of a Sikh wedding and a Hindu wedding. It is only during the actual wedding ceremony that the Punjabi traditions differ. The bride and groom are prepared for the wedding ceremony in the bride’s home. The bride has a Chuda ceremony while the groom has a seam ceremony. Both ceremonies are performed at the bride’s home.
The Chuda ceremony is simply when the bride is presented with bangles and when a pooja is performed. Similar to the Western bouquet throw, as the bride leaves the room, she hits one of her female relatives with the kaliras/bangle and that lucky person will be the next to wed. The scant is when the groom is bathed and his father ties a pink turban on his head. Everyone touches this turban as they would have touched the bride’s bangle. Ceremonies and rituals complete, the groom leaves his bride’s home for the wedding hall.
At the wedding venue, the groom traditionally arrives riding a horse. His friends and relatives accompany him in a procession or the ‘Baraat’. The baraat has its own customs to observe— more singing and dancing, decking up the bridegroom, tying the sehra (a sort of ornamental veil) over his face, leading him in procession, often on ghodi (horseback), to the venue to the accompaniment of a brass band.
The actual ceremony for the Hindus is conducted in front of the ceremonial fire with both parents seated on either side of the bride and groom. They are deemed to be married only after they have gone around the sacred fire seven times— called the lawan phere.
The Sikh couple sit before the holy book—the Guru Granth Sahib, while prayers are said and the `granthr (priest) instructs them on the duties of marriage. Finally they walk around the Guru Granth Sahib. Most Sikh weddings are conducted in the morning within the precincts of a gurdwara.
Doti is the last of all ceremonies. It marks an emotional farewell for the bride. She is taken away in an elaborately decorated car these days. It is customary that the bride returns to her paternal home with her husband next day. A feast then takes place for just the married couple and they are given sweets and gifts. After the wedding, the couple goes to the groom’s family house to begin married life. On her first day in her new home, the bride is asked to cook a dish for her new family. The dish, normally sweet, was once considered a test of the bride’s skill. Nowadays, this ritual is used to mark the bride’s .formal undertaking of her domestic roles.