Punjabi Wedding Customs and Rituals
Punjabi matrimonial traditions are a bold reflection of the Punjabi culture that involves song, dance, ritual, costumes and cuisine. These traditions have evolved over many centuries. The ceremonies are conducted mostly in the Punjabi language in case of Hindu, Sikh and even Muslim wedding customs.
Punjabi Hindu Pre-Wedding Rituals
- Pre-Engagement – Rokka - ਪਰੀ-ਏਂਗਾਗੇਮੈਂਟ - ਰੋਕਾਂ – This is the precursor to the engagement ceremony where the family of the groom will visit the bride’s house and offer gifts, money and blessings to the bride. The couple will commit to enter into a marriage union. In case of Sikh weddings, an Ardaas (ਅਰਦਾਸ) is generally said before gifts get exchanged.
- Mangni or Shagun – ਮੰਗਣੀ/ ਸ਼ਗੁਨ – This is the actual engagement ceremony and it is a crucial part of any Punjabi marriage. The family of the bride will now visit the family of the groom and offer gifts while confirming the engagement.
- Tika - ਟੀਕਾ – A Tika ceremony is held a week before the marriage in which a forehead mark is applied to the bride and the groom and once again the family of the bride will bring gifts for the groom’s family accompanied by a silver tray containing rice grains, saffron and coconut that is wrapped in a golden leaf.
- Dholki Sangeet - ਢੋਲਕੀ ਸੰਗੀਤ – The family of the bride will host a sangeet function where percussion instruments will be played while songs are sung. Today, people also hire DJs and they have dance parties, followed by dinner.
- Mehndi - ਮਹਿੰਦੀ - This involves henna tattoos to the feet and hands of the bride.
- Haldi Vatna - ਹਲਦੀ ਵਤਨ – The bride is made to sit in front of four lamps so that the glow reflects on her face. Turmeric powder paste and mustard oil is applied all over her body by her relatives and friends.
- Sehra – ਸੇਹਰਾ – This happens in the house of the groom where he is dressed up in his wedding clothes and wears a garland of flowers over his head. Generally, a puja is performed after this ritual.
- Ghodi Chadna - ਘੋੜੀ ਛੱਡਣਾ- This ritual also takes place at the house of the groom where the cousins and sisters of the groom adorn and feed the mare and help the groom mount it to go over to the wedding venue.
Punjabi Hindu Wedding Rituals
- Milni - ਮਿਲਣੀ – This ritual involves the introduction of the couple; in a Sikh wedding, an Ardaas (ਅਰਦਾਸ) gets performed and Guru Granth Sahib Scriptures are read, followed by a formal introduction of senior men in the families.
- Var Mala - ਵਾਰ ਮਾਲਾ – The bride and the groom are made to sit near the hawan; they exchange floral garlands to signify that they have accepted each other and that they will live together.
- Kanya Daan - ਕੰਞ ਦਾਨ – The father of the bride will put a ring in the groom’s finger and gives his daughter’s hand in his hand. This is the Kanya Daan. This is followed by pheras (ਫਰਾਂਸ) in front of the sacred pyre. In case of a Sikh wedding, the groom and the bride will walk in unison around the Guru Granth Sahib four times and this is known as Laavaan (ਲਾਵਾਂ), signifying that Guru is the core of their marriage.
Punjabi Post-Wedding Rituals
- Vidaai – ਵਿਦਾਈ – This ritual marks the departure of the bride from her parental house. The bride throws puffed rice as a custom over her head as she leaves the mandap.
- Grihapravesh – ਗ੍ਰਿਹਪ੍ਰਵੇਸ਼ – This is the reception of the bride at the groom’s house. The bridal couple is welcomed and this ceremony is also known as Pani Bharna (ਪਾਣੀ ਭਰਨਾ). The bride will then kick the mustard oil in a vessel with her right foot as she enters the groom’s house.
Punjabi Muslim Matrimonial Customs
A Muslim marriage in Punjab is not just a link between the bride and the groom but it is also treated as an alliance between their families. The Islamic law Sharia is observed during a Punjabi Muslim marriage.
Punjabi Muslim Pre-Wedding Rituals
- Engagement - ਨਿਸਬਤ -تنِسب – This is a formal ritual to mark that the couple is engaged. It takes place with few close members of the family as witnesses. Rings or other items of jewellery are exchanged between the groom and the bride.
- Mehndi - ਮਹਿੰਦੀ - مہندی this is the henna ritual and it takes place a day prior to the main marriage day. This custom is traditionally held for the groom and the bride separately in their respective houses.
Punjabi Muslim Wedding Rituals
- Rukhsati – ਰੁਖਸਤੀ- رُخصتیThis is the send-off for the bride by her family.
- Suhaag Raat - ਸੁਹਾਗ ਰਾਤ ت راسُہاگThis is the couple’s first night after the bride has left for the groom’s house; it is to celebrate the consummation of the wife and husband.
- Valima – ਵਾਲੀਮਾ- ولِيمThis is a grand reception hosted by the family of the groom to commemorate the wedding of their son.
Punjabi Christian Matrimonial CustomsPunjabi Christian Pre-Wedding Rituals
- The Announcement - ਥੇ ਅੰਨੋਉਣਸਮੇਂਟ – This is the public declaration of a Christian marriage and this plays an essential part of the wedding procedure; a notice has to be given in the local newspapers along with a notice that is put up on the bulletin board of the church where the wedding has been fixed to take place. Three weeks before the date of the marriage, the bans have to be read out in the church service.
- Engagement Function - ਏਂਗਾਗੇਮੈਂਟ ਫੰਕਸ਼ਨ- The function is hosted by the parents of the bride and it is always a formal lunch or dinner along with a cocktail party. The bride and the groom have to exchange engagement rings during this function.
- Welcoming the Bride at the Church - ਵੇਲਕੋਮਿੰਗ ਥੇ ਬਰੀਡ ਅਤ ਥੇ ਚਰਚ-The Best Man of the groom will welcome the bride at the church on behalf of the groom with a bouquet as she arrives in a car that is arranged for her by the groom.
- Homily – ਹੋਮਿਲੀ- The couple walks slowly up the aisle to the altar, where the priest welcomes them and blesses them; he then reads from the Holy Bible and gives the Homily sermon that covers the sacred nature of the wedding union.
- Reception – ਰੇਸਪਤੀਓਂ-This is a tradition which has been adopted by almost all castes and communities in India. It is a banquet function hosted by the family of the groom to celebrate the wedding of their son. This custom is accompanied by an atmosphere of spree and merriment as there is plenty of dancing and singing and feasting. The couple are showered by confetti as they arrive; they cut the wedding cake and this is followed by dinner, toasts and dancing.