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Flamboyant, full of gaiety, and larger than life... these words describe a Punjabi wedding perfectly. The culture of Punjab oozes a sense of warmth that has been well captured in the Yash Chopra movies. The energy at Punjabi weddings is definitely worth a watch. Why not understand the intricacies involved in a traditional Punjabi wedding and immerse ourselves in the beat of the dhol?
Roka: The roka ceremony is to secure a commitment from both the families of the bride and the groom. It also suggests that no other marriage proposals would be heeded to by both sides. It is an unofficial engagement of sorts.
Sagai: Sagai, or engagement is the formal ring ceremony where the bride and groom exchange rings, promising life-long companionship to each other. It includes family camaraderie where the bride's father applies tilak on his son-in-law's forehead and welcomes him into his family. Similarly, the groom's mother extends the chudani on her future daughter-in-law, as a mark of acceptance. Exchanging of dry fruits, sweets and other lavish gifts mark the occasion.
Sangeet: Music and dance are a significant aspect of Punjabi weddings. The sangeet ceremony is an occasion to let loose and immerse in the festivities. Though it primarily was meant only for the females, nowadays sangeet ceremonies are mainly seen as a celebration time.
Mehendi: Just before the wedding, the bride along with all other female members apply mehendi. The bridal mehendi consists of elaborate work on both hands and feet, which takes a couple of hours. As tradition says, the darker the color, the greater the affection from her husband and in-laws.
Chuda chadana: In the morning of the wedding, the maternal uncle of the bride presents her with a set of red and cream ivory bangles which she is not supposed to see till she gets ready for her wedding. The female members tie the kaliras on the chuda to convey their good wishes. A sacred thread called mouli is also tied to both the bride and the groom which is believed to bring luck and blessing to the soon-to-wed couple.
Vatna: Following the chuda ceremony, the ritual of applying vatna (a mixture of turmeric, sandalwood, rose water and mustard oil) to the bride takes place. Turmeric, a natural cosmetic, acts as a scrub making the bride beautiful. Simultaneously, this ceremony also takes place at the groom's house.
Ghara ghardoli: Once the vatna ceremony is over, at both the bride and groom's place, the sister-in-laws along with other female members fill a pitcher (ghardoli) of water from a nearby pond or temple and rinses off the vatna. Post this, the bride and groom head off to get ready for the actual wedding.
Sehrabandi: A significant ritual for the bridegroom, sehrabandi involves a puja and tying of the sehra (the turban with an elaborate veil) by the sisters of the groom.
Ghodi chadna: Mounting the decorated mare by the groom accompanied by a sarbala (a young nephew or cousin) amidst much fanfare follows the ritual of sehrabandi. The mare is fed grams while the sister adorns the groom with kohl, signifying the warding away of evil.
Milni: Milni or formal introduction of the both the families take place once the wedding procession reaches the venue. With the sprinkling of rose water and flower petals, the groom's party is welcomed heartily by the members of the bride's side.
Varmala: Varmala or jaimala is the formal exchange of garlands when the bride steps into the altar. Amidst a lot of teasing from both sides, the couple finally begins the wedding rituals for the evening.
Madhuparka: A mixture of curd, honey and ghee is fed to the couple which starts the actual ceremony of marriage.
Kanyadaan: Thereafter, the parents of the bride gives her away to the groom. After the groom accepts his responsibility amidst the chanting of mantras, the sacred fire is lit.
Laja homa: Offerings of puffed rice are made to the fire by the couple together, with their hands on each other. The puffed rice is offered to the couple by the bride's brother.
Pheras: Pheras or parikrama symbolizes the couple's going around the holy fire seven times, each circle embodying the vows that the couple has to adhere to. The first four pheras are led by the bride as she is considered the embodiment of Goddess Lakshmi. The pheras are followed by the groom applying sindoor on the bride's forehead and tying the mangalsutra around her neck.
Aashirvadah: The wedding ceremony being over, the newlyweds take the blessings from the elders, to commence their marital life.
Vidaai: Vidaai marks the departure of the bride from her maternal home. As she steps out, a handful of puffed rice is thrown backwards over her head, showering her family with prosperity.
Paani varna: This ritual takes place on the couple's arrival at the groom's place. While an aarti is performed by the mother-in-law with a pitcher of water, the bride pushes over a pot of rice before entering her new home.
Mooh dikhai: Literally meaning showing of the bride to her new family, her mother-in-law and other relatives shower her with gifts.
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