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Punjabi Wedding Traditions!

Punjabi weddings are celebrated with great pomp and show. They are well known for all their glitz and glamor and obviously, good food. It is impossible to resist the tempting delicacies, the latkas-jatkas (dance) and the thrilling fervor it brings along. Once over, you are bound to miss the sumptuous wedding like hell.

Talking about the wedding traditions, they are a motley collection of colors, vogue, food, dance and faith. Let me take you through the seven days of a Punjabi wedding and give you the feels.

Photo Source: James Thomas Long Photography

Day 1 – Sagai (Engagement)

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It is the official declaration of marriage, wherein the groom’s family visits the bride’s family with gifts, baskets of fruits and dry fruits along with ornaments and clothes for the girl. The girl is draped with an ornate dupatta and is made to worn jewelry by her soon to be mother-in-law. Finally the rings are exchanged by the couple and the ceremony is followed by scrumptious food and dance, of course.

Day 2 – Satsang (Congregation)

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Nothing auspicious can be completed without the blessing of God. Prayers are offered to seek blessings for the couple, as they start their journey as man and wife, and for their respective families as well. This is because, in Indians, a marriage is believed to be a union of not only two souls but also of two families.

Day 3 – Sangeet

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It is the ceremony where you will find people shaking a leg, having food and drinks, singing wedding songs and celebrating the wedding in the most grandiose manner. Dhols and dholki are played and everyone has a whale of a time, before the couple is officially declared ‘Married’. It is like celebrating the last days of bachelorhood by both the families. Songs are sung teasing the bride and groom about their upcoming married life.

Day 4 – Mehndi

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In this ritual, henna is applied on the hands and feet of the bride as well as the groom. The future mother-in-law sends her soon to be daughter-in-law the shagun ki mehendi (auspicious henna)  along with some ornaments and gifts. These days brides adorn floral jewelry to look every bit of glamorous. The entire kith and kin also apply designer henna or tattoos, followed by dance and food (because Punjabi weddings are incomplete without luscious food). It is believed that the darker the henna, the more love the bride will get from her mother-in-law.

Day 5 – Baraat and The Wedding Day

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On the morning of the wedding day, the bride adorns choora (a set of red and cream ivory bangles) given to her by her maternal uncle and ties kaliras (silver or gold plated traditional ornaments) to a bangle, which signifies the status of a married woman. The choora is also worn for the well-being of the husband and should be worn for at least a year.

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Likewise in the groom’s home, after the groom is decked up in his sherwani (traditional wedding attire), a sehra (veil) is tied on his head by his sister and his sisters-in-law line his eyes with surma (black powder) to ward off any evil eye.

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At the wedding venue, the groom’s family is welcomed by the bride’s family with folded hands and open hearts. Milni (meeting ceremony) is performed at the entrance of the venue, in which the family exchanges garlands of flowers, sweets and gifts.

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After the milni, the bride and groom see each other for the first time and exchange garlands of flowers at the varmala (or jaimala) ceremony, and are cheered by both the families. This exchange signifies the exchange of love and admiration for each other as they are about to start a new life.

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The varmala is followed by the Pheras, where the couple walks in tow around the Agni (sacred fire) seven times, reciting specific vows during each round. The couple invokes the Gods for blessing them with food, health, spiritual strength, happiness and harmony, children, understanding, loyalty and companionship. After the pheras are completed, the groom applies sindoor (vermilion) to the girl’s head (at her partition) and ties the mangalsutra (a beaded necklace) to her neck, which identifies her as a married woman.

In a Sikh wedding, the couple walks around the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy book) four times, which is called laavaan. With the Guru as the centre of their marriage, they accept each other as partners for life.

After all the wedding rituals are over, the couple touches the feet of the elders and seeks their blessings for a happy married life.

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Vidai or Doli marks the farewell of the bride from her parents’ house, where she throws puffed rice over her head to convey her good wishes to her parents.

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The bride is then welcomed to her new house by her mother-in-law, who encircles a jar full of water 3 times around her daughter-in-law and then offers it to her to drink, as a symbol of her acceptance and blessing as her newest daughter. The bride then kicks a jar full of rice with her right foot before she enters the house. The rest of the day is spent playing traditional games to check the compatibility of the couple.

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Day 6 – Reception

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The day after the wedding, the boy’s family hosts a Reception party, which is the first function the boy and girl attend as a couple. Both the families have a gala time, raising a toast to the couple’s new married life. The couple receives blessings as well as lots of gifts from their relatives and friends.

Day 7 – Phera Dalna

After the reception, the girl visits her parents’ house as a married lady for the first time and is fetched by her brother. This ceremony is known as phera dalna. She receives gifts and good wishes from her family as she leaves her house after the ritual.

Being a Punjabi, I feel fortunate enough to have experienced a Punjabi wedding first hand, but if you have never been in a ‘larger than life’ Punjabi wedding, then you need to get acquainted with a Punjabi friend asap!

Submitted by: Manpreet Kaur

Manpreet is an articulate writer who writes to feed her soul. For feeding her stomach, she works as an English trainer, training students and professionals for competitive language exams. She is realistic, rebellious and robust. Not manacled by a particular genre of writing, her interest is in varied domains like Lifestyle, Marriage, Global issues, sagas and styling. Hence, defying the proverb ”Jack of all but King of none”. You can check out her blogemail her, or get in touch through Facebook and Instagram.

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