Friday, May 9, 2008

Punjabi Wedding Customs

My thoughts and feelings for my 'Chooda' (wedding bangles) and above all my husband inspired me to write the first ever blog of my life. I read and re -read my post and felt like narrating the entire bunch of rituals of a Punjabi wedding. I love each and every aspect of the wedding- from shopping for jewellery and clothes to spending hours for selecting mehandi designs, to finalizing the pattern for invitation card, to making a guest list, to deciding costumes for each and every ceremony and customs, to flower and rangoli decorations, to the traditional wedding songs- simply anything and everything. Comes a wedding in the family and I am all set to look forward to it... my eyeballs dilated enough not to miss even a peep of a custom :)


Being from the state of Punjab, I have a natural and special bonding to the culture and traditions. Marriage in Punjab means- merriment, thrill, fanfare, singing, dancing and lots of excitement. Earlier, marriages used to be fixed by parents. But with changing times and generations, people are becoming acceptable to love marriages. Despite its own rich set of customs, Punjabis now a days have also inculcated various traditions from other cultures like ring ceremony, reception etc.
Being a female, this write up will be dedicated more towards ceremonies performed at the girl's house. I would try to post about the groom's customs one day ;)
Once the families of both the boy and the girl decide upon tying the knot, the real fun starts ..
'Roka'
'Rokna' means to stop. Generally, this is referred in relation to the boy, signifying that the girl's family takes commitment from the boy to marry their daughter and henceafter he would stop his search for his life partner. This ceremony marks the 'yes' from both families. Generally, it takes place in presence of family members and close relatives. The families exchange gifts and sweets and the girl and the boy are announced engaged and are allowed to court.
The wedding date gets fixed.....
Kirtan/Havan/Path

Before commencing with any ritual related to the wedding, it is believed to be auspicious to start in the name of God. So a few days before wedding (generally before sending out invitations to friends and relatives for the marriage) a small ritual is performed in any of the forms - Kirtan ( singing of devotional songs), Havan ( a fire ritual accompanied by chanting of Vedic mantras, in which offerings of ghee, grains etc is made to the fire), or Path ( reading narrations from religious books) is performed. Only family members and close relatives attend it.




Sagan/Chunni

This ceremony traditionally takes place at the groom's house, a day before the wedding. Nowadays, people prefer to do it in banquet halls to accomodate large gatherings and comfortable proceedings. A 'pandit' ( priest) performs 'havan' . It is believed that it drives away bad spirits and brings good luck and purifies the soul and surroundings. The girl's father perform the 'tika' (smearing of saffron or vermilion, mixed with rice grains and flower petals on the boy's forehead) ceremony, followed by serving him some sweet, tradition being 'boondi laddoos'. The girl's family gets beautifully wrapped gifts for the groom, his family and all the relatives.

Chunni (Stole) involves the girl. The girl is made to drape in a beautiful heavy 'chunni' with rich intricate embroidery, generally in pink or red. In some familes, this chunni is passed on from generation to generation as a family heirloom. She is also gifted clothes and jewellery.

Saint

This take place at both bride's and groom's place. Earlier this ceremony used to take place 2-3 days before the wedding. But now a days this happens on the same day of marriage. Once this is over, the bride(/groom) is not supposed to step outside the house. At bride's place, this starts with some pooja(prayer) followed by smearing of ubtan (paste of turmeric, saffron) on face, arms and other body parts of bride. It is believed that it will make her beautiful and charming and bring glow to her face.

Khichdi is prepared with the ingredients that come from the groom's place and the girl eats it. The rest is served to her unmarried sisters and friends. They say that those who eat that shall get married soon.

After this the bride is not supposed to sit on bed.

Ghadoli

After Saint, the relatives (specially sister in law and sisters) fetch some water in a pot(ghadoli) from a temple. The sisters and sisters in law also get a token/gift for this.The bride bathes with this water before getting ready for the wedding.

Chooda/kaleere





This is my favorite ceremony of all. Bride's mother's brother get chooda (a set of red-white bangles).Traditionally this used to be made of ivory but now generally plastic bangles are used. Since the bride is not supposed to see them before wearing, they are dipped in unpasteurized milk and finally her uncles make her wear these bangles.



Apart from these, a steel bangle is worn in each hand to which the bride's mother, friends, and sisters tie kaleere

After this the bride gets ready for the wedding.

I think I would close this here. This completes the prewedding ceremonies. Would write more about the wedding customs sometime later.




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