Punjabi Wedding Rituals
It is widely believed that Punjabi Weddings are repleted with great pomp, loud music, extravagant shadi setups, sumptuous food & drinks and rejuvenating Bhangra. But there is a lot more to know and see in a Punjabi wedding through its rich wedding customs and traditions. The meaningful wedding customs of Punjabi people depict a divine union of two souls forever.
Here is the combined view of all Punjabi wedding rituals that take place before, during and after the marriage. You will surely know many of the Punjabi wedding rituals for the very first time as they are quite less popular among people.
Punjabi Pre-Wedding Rituals –
From accepting the marriage to the morning of D-day of bride and groom falls under the pre-wedding rituals of A Punjabi Wedding.
1. Roka & Thaka –
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The term Roka signifies that after this initial wedding ceremony, ” the would-be bride and groom stop seeing other marriage proposals“. Roka ceremony fixes the alliance of bride and groom and on this day parents of bride and groom gather at a place and exchange sweets, dry fruits and gifts. On the same day, the would-be bride and groom sit together where all the relatives, parents and other attendees shower blessings on them and offer gifts and cash in the form of Shagun. This ceremony is known as Thaka in Punjabi culture.
2. Chunni/Chunari Chadhana –
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This Punjabi wedding ritual is primarily linked with the bride. The family members and close relatives of the groom visit the home of the bride with many gifts, jewelry and sweets. Along with these, they carry a Saree or Lehenga for the bride and a Red Chunari. An elder female of the Groom’s family places the Red Chunari over the head of the bride and blesses her for the upcoming marriage event.
3. Sagai/ Kurmai / Engagement ceremony –
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Some families keep this ceremony a private pr intimate affair so they allow the bride and groom to exchange the rings on the same day when the “Chunari Chadhana” ritual is performed. While other families want to celebrate the engagement event on a grand level so they finalize a specific day for this ceremony. Many guests are invited by both sides who offer gifts to the new couple.
4. Kirtan –
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After the marriage fixing, the bride and groom’s families separately do a small pooja at their homes and arrange Kirtan for an auspicious new life beginning of their children. The families invite their neighbors to collectively sing the sacred Kirtan of their deities.
5. Dholki ceremony –
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In other cultures it is recognized as a Sangeet ceremony where people dance to filmy and other cultural songs but in a Punjabi wedding, Dholki is celebrated separately in both houses. The family members of the bride and groom arrange “Dhol” and sing folk Punjabi songs to tease them in a fun way. All close ones dance together and express their joy with their graceful and dainty dance moves. After performing a traditional dance performance, people groove on the peppy soundtracks of the DJ with the well-choreographed moves.
6. Mehandi ceremony –
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In the evening, one day before the big day, the Heena artists apply Heena paste on the palms, hands and feet of the bride by making captivating designs. According to the old traditions, this Heena paste is sent by the mother-in-law of the bride but these days family members buy it from the market. The groom and his family also put this Heena on the palms and celebrate this evening by having great fun.
7. Jaggo –
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This unique wedding festivity of Punjabi culture signifies the right meaning of the word “Jaggo” in the form of a joyful ritual. All the family members of both sides stay awake the whole night and sing Punjabi wedding songs. The maternal aunt of the bride keeps “lightening Diyas” on her head and then gives them to others. This is a whole night celebration in the Punjabi families during a wedding ceremony.
8. Vatna –
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Similarly the other cultures’ wedding rituals, the Haldi ceremony is known as Vatna in Punjabi weddings. The paste of turmeric and mustard oil is applied on the face and body of the bride and groom in their separate homes. The family members and all the guests dress up in yellow costumes while visiting the home of the bride and groom for this Vatna ritual.
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9. Ghara Ghardoli –
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Right after the Haldi or Vatna ritual the bride visits a nearby temple where her female siblings pour the water on her that is brought from a well. And then she enters the sanctum sanctorum of the temple for seeking the divine blessings of deities for her marriage. While in the groom’s home, the sister-in-law of the groom brings water for the groom to take a ceremonial bath. A clay pitcher is used in the Ghara Ghardoli wedding ritual.
10. Chhudaa Chadhana –
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This is the most significant ritual of a Punjabi wedding and it takes place in the bride’s home. A “hawan puja” is organized in which all the family members participate. After completion of it, the maternal uncle of the Bride gives her a set of 21 bangles (red color).
First, the Chuudaa set is purified in milk and rose petal liquid and then the Maternal uncle and aunt of the bride help her in wearing them. During this ritual, the bride is not allowed to have a glimpse of her Chuudaa as it is considered bad luck. The family members cover them with a white cloth entirely. Brides who believe in their rich wedding traditions wear Chuudaa for a month after the wedding. The family members of the bride touch the Chuudaa before wearing it as giving blessings in abundance for her wedding. This ritual is celebrated on the morning of the big day of the bride.
11. Kalire Ceremony –
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The golden-colored accessory added to the Chuudaa or bangles of the bride not only enhances her beauty but also symbolizes good luck, fertility and happy married life. Once the bride wears them, she shakes them gracefully over the heads of unmarried girls and whoever receives the broken part of Kalire, is assumed the next to get married in the family. These days brides demand the customized Kalire in which the catchy design and the name of the groom are tucked. But in the old period, betel nuts and dried fruits were encrusted in the Kalire.
The Sangeet, Mehandi, Vatna and Chuudaa ceremonies are collectively known as Maiyan in the bride’s home.
12. Kangan Bandhna –
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On the morning of the wedding day, the elder person of the bride and groom’s families respectively tie a sacred thread or mauli on their wrists. It wards off evil intentions and bad luck and acts as a sacred protector of the bride and groom.
13. Sehrabandi –
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Before the commencement of the main wedding day rituals, the groom’s family arranges a pooja for Sehrabandi. In this ritual, the family members help him in tying a Sehra, Pagdi and Headgear that can cover his face entirely. The family members shower blessings on the groom before he walks down the aisle.
14. Varna –
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A small yet important ritual from the aspect of the Groom in which the groom’s sister put Kajal or Surma in the eyes of the Groom. This protects the groom from all evil intentions and makes him all set for visiting the Bride’s location. This wedding ritual takes place right after the Sehrabandi ceremony.
15. Sehbala and Ghodi Chadhna –
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Now the groom is considered ready to mount on the mare (Ghodi) and reach the bride’s location with his baraat. But before that, the siblings of the Groom feed jaggery and chickpeas to the mare as good luck and circulate some money over the head of the groom sitting on the mare as “Najar Utarna“. This money is later distributed among the less fortunate and needy people as they also bless the groom.
A child especially a cousin /nephew of the groom is ornated in the decorative costume and jewelry and is called the Sehbala of the groom. He sits with the groom during the entire time of baraat. The friends, cousins, siblings and all the male members of the groom’s family take part in the Barat and move forward with dancing and enjoying.
Rituals during the wedding ceremony in the Punjabi culture –
When the groom’s procession (Baraat) reaches the location where the bride is staying with the family, the wedding rituals are started. Packed with several fun and emotional moments, the Punjabi wedding rituals convey a meaning of love, unity and reverence.
16. Milni & Agwaani –
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A very warm welcome is hosted by the bride’s entire family when the groom and baraat reach the bride’s home or any other location where the bride is staying. The elder family members of the Bride’s side put a tilak on the groom’s forehead, perform aarti and offer a garland. Other main family members of the groom’s side are also welcomed warmly and everyone meets with each other cordially. This rich welcome in Punjabi culture is recognized as the Milni and Agwani of the Baraat.
17. Jaimala or Varmala ceremony –
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Traditionally this is the ceremony when the bride and groom see each other for the very first time on their D-day. The well-dressed Punjabi bride in red attire approaches the stage where her groom is waiting. Both exchange Varmala or Jaimala and during this ceremony, the family members try to make it difficult by lifting the bride and groom higher. These fun moments enhance the glory of rich rituals in Punjabi weddings.
18. Kanyadaan –
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One of the most emotional moments of the wedding ceremony is Kanyadaan. The bride’s father put her daughter’s hand in the groom’s hand and asks him to love and care for her forever. Kanyadaan is considered the biggest Daan on the earth and a father considers himself blessed if he performs Kanyadaan for his daughter.
19. Mangal Pheras –
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The bride and groom promise each other to love and respect for the rest of their lives through the seven sacred vows. They move around the sacred fire “Agni Dev” seven times under the guidance of the priest. After completing the phrase, the groom put the vermillion (Sindoor) in the bride’s “Maang” and tie a “Mangalsutra” around her neck. These ornaments depict their lifelong promise to be with each other.
20. Lajahom –
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The bride’s brother pour puffed rice into the hands of both bride and groom which they offer to the fire and seek blessings from Agni Devta. This process is performed by the couple thrice repeatedly.
21. Juta Churai / Juta Chupai –
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When the bride and groom perform the wedding rituals, the girl gang of the bride’s side got the opportunity to steal the wedding footwear of their “would-be brother-in-law.” A fun Punjabi wedding ritual offers a chance to put expensive demands in front of the groom in the exchange for his wedding shoes. A stretched negotiation brings smiles to the faces of everyone when the groom and girl gang tease each other lovingly. Cash or gold jewelry is given to the girls by the groom and then they return his footwear.
22. Bidaai /Vidaai –
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At the end of the wedding ceremony when the bride leaves her maternal home, it makes everyone is filled with emotions. The parents, close relatives, friends, neighbors and other attendees sob softly and bless the couple for a happy married life forever. She throws some puffed rice backward over her shoulder in a thankful manner for taking care of her. This teary bride procession moves forward with her husband in a decorated car. This procession is recognized as Doli.
Post-Punjabi wedding rituals – The mother-in-law of the bride do not visit her home with the baraat as she prepares the groom’s home for a grand welcome of the newlywed couple. Let’s know how she welcomes her new bride in a traditional Punjabi way.
23. Griha Pravesh & Paani Bharna –
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This one is a significant post-wedding ritual in a Punjabi family when the couple reaches home after the wedding. The mother-in-law of the bride keeps a brass pot filled with rice grains on the threshold of the main room or door. She gently kicks this brass pot with her right leg and grains fell on the floor. It is considered a blissful start to a new life in a new house.
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After that mother in law of the bride offers a glass of water and circles it over the head of the bride. She takes a few sips from it and enters the home. This unique ritual is conveyed as “Pani Bharna” which signifies that the groom’s family has accepted and welcomed the bride with love and warmth.
24. A fun ring game of dominance –
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After the griha pravesh ritual at the groom’s home, it is time to have some fun with the bride and groom to make them comfortable and joyous. A ring or a shell is placed inside a tray or other flat utensil which is covered with milk, flower petals and colors. These ingredients make the ring or object invisible to the bride and groom.
Now the bride and groom find the ring in the bowl and whoever finds it first for the maximum times, is supposed the leader of married life.
25. Reception Party –
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This is organized by the groom’s family and all the guests gather at the party to collectively welcome the new bride. It is also an official meeting of the bride with each family member of the groom’s side. Those who were not invited to the wedding or baraat due to some reasons, also attend this reception event.
26. Phera Dalna –
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After staying a few days in her inlaw’s home and the bride visits her maternal home with her brother for a few days. This signifies that she is still a beloved member of her maternal family and will always be welcomed with love and warmth whenever she wants. The ritual of visiting the maternal home with the brother and returning to the in-law’s home is known as Phera Daalna. Her friends and many close relatives come to her maternal home for meeting with the bride. You can consider this ritual a small get-together as well.
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