Punjabi weddings

You have seen them in the movies. You have heard about them. You have always wondered just how different is an Indian wedding from your wedding?

Well, for starters, there are a whole host of cultures and traditions in India and thus what you see in movies, is actually one of those cultures- the Punjabi culture. Punjabi weddings are among the most fun wedding ceremonies of the sub continent of India.

Punjabi weddings are often more about the two families coming together instead of just the two individuals who are getting married. This is because most weddings in India are family arranged.

Punjabi weddings often begin with the roka ceremony when the alliance is finalized. The groom and the bride exchange rings amongst a gathering of close friends and relatives. This happens at the beginning of the long series of functions in the wedding period unlike European weddings which marks the binding association of the two people in matrimony.

After this ceremony, also known as the mangni or sagai, the groom and bride are allowed to meet at public places for a few hours in a few days. This is so that they become comfortable with each other.

A few days before the actual wedding ceremony, a whole host of other functions begin. There is the haldi function where the couple are washed in a paste of turmeric, curd and flour. The relatives offer their blessing and acknowledge the sacredness of the ritual of the marriage.

Then follows the bhaat function where the bride’s mother invites her brother to give her gifts which will contribute towards the dowry that goes out. Though the age old ritual of presenting dowry is still present in many parts of India, the bhaat ceremony is more ritualistic than materialistic.

The Sangeet ceremony is a very popular night during the wedding season. The couple’s friends and relatives indulge in fun and frolic, dance and music. The old ladies of the house sing old traditional wedding songs (geet) with accompaniments in the dhol. Frequent bhangra and giddha nights to commemorate this ceremony are not infrequent. The ladies wear henna on their hands and men are often kept out of the ceremony as it is meant to be a night for the ladies.

The Indian wedding is quintessentially established through the enchantment of holy chants in front of the fire god as witness. The bride and groom revolve around the fire god for a total of seven circles. These are known as the pheras. This marks the end of the ceremony when the groom puts the holy thread of beads, called the mangalsutra, around his wife’s neck and puts sindoor in her head. The bride wears the mangal sutra and sindoor for the rest of her married life as a mark of commitment to her husband.

-Lin J

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