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The Fat Indian Punjabi Wedding
PRE WEDDING CEREMONY:
So aptly termed as an ancient Indian spa ritual. In this ceremony, Turmeric is applied on the face of the bride and it is presume to bring glow to her face, more so to make her shine on her big day. This is applied on her face, hands and feet. In totality it is applied seven times from top to bottom by family members and friends. The same ceremony is as well observed at the grooms place. During the ceremony, kangana or sacred thread, is tied on the right wrists of the bride and groom. It is with an iron chaaku (small iron knife for protection), turmeric sticks, supari (areca nut, but commonly known as betel nut) and kaudis (shells). These are all symbols of good luck, to protect the bride and the groom from the evil eye, so that the wedding happens without any obstacles.
Mehendi is one of the sixteen adornments decorating a bride without which her beauty is said to be incomplete.It is put in full hands and full legs, specialists are called for drawing beautiful mehendi in the hands of bride. It is very intricate and takes more than an hour for completing one hand and one side of arm of the bride. It is a belief that the darker it grows, the more her husband will love her. It takes 1 day maximum for the mehendi to grow darker in the color. At the ceremony, in addition to the bride, all other Friends of the bride and female relatives from the bride and groom's side also flock around the mehendi artist to get their palms decorated.
Ring Ceremony is one of the most enjoyable function in addition to Baraat. Also known as Sagaai Ceremony, is a public announcement of a couple's intention to marry. It's one of the first ceremonies that takes place between the two families.It is where the couple exchanges the ring and the families exchanges the gifts amongst one another which is then followed with Dance party which in these days is organised by event orgnaizers or suo motu by the families of the couple. Post the elaborated function, follows the sumptuous dinner with cocktails.
Chuda is a set of beautiful red/maroon bangles which is put in the brides wrist by her family members which mainly constitute the oldest maternal uncle and aunt while the brides eyes are kept closed with a cloth tied across her eyes.To commemorate the Chuda ceremony, a havan or puja is conducted by the pandit. The bride is prohibited from seeing her chuda until evening. As a matter of tradition, the oldest maternal uncle and aunt are required to observe the fast till the event is completed. This Chuda is then touched by all present. People by touching Chuda gives wishes for great married life of the Bride. Post which, the girl’s uncle, aunt, friends and cousins tie kaliras (silver, gold or gold plated traditional ornaments) to a bangle worn by the girl.
Ghara Ghardoli and Sehrabandi
This ceremony mainly takes place at Groom’s house, in which, the boy’s sister-in-law visits the nearby temple and fills a pitcher with holy water.
Groom then gets ready in his attire which is usually a Sherwani and is tied with a sehra on his head by his father The boy also wears a pink color turban, which is touched by all the people present in the pooja.
The Ghori Chadna is the final ceremony at the groom’s place. The groom’s sisters and cousins feed and adorn his mare. After which the boy climbs the horse and immediately leaves his home for the wedding venue.
WEDDING DAY CEREMONIES
Baraat (a fun filled procession)
Baraat is one of the most fun filled traditions in the entire wedding ceremony. This is the time which is most enjoyed by the Grooms family and friends who during the said procession, which proceeds from the house of the groom, towards the wedding venue, dance to the drum beats played by the drummers. The baraat is like a parade to announce the arrival of the groom at the wedding venue.Here the groom rides atop a white horse or elephant to the wedding venue to meet his princess. Around his neck is the garland of Indian currency which signifies his prosperity. Once the baraat arrives at the wedding venue they are greeted with cheers by the bride's side and where the groom is called for ribbon cutting by the bride family before he could enter the wedding venue and more so to meet his princess. The mother of the bride applies tilak on groom's forehead and performs Aarti (a prayer to welcome him) that wards off evil. Gifts and hugs are exchanged all around as members of both families welcome each other which is termed as Milni.
The Var Mala ceremony takes place after the groom arrives at the venue. He waits eagerly on stage for his bride to arrive. The bride's arrival is an exciting time and everyone flocks around to get the first glance of the bride in her finery.
Considering the weight the bride carries along, giving due regard to her lehnga(the traditional Indian wedding attire) and heavy accessories is no easy task, post which the couple exchanges garlands.
This all is amidst the number of cameras surrounding the bride and groom where photographers strive to capture the best of the images for happy memories thereafter of the wedded couples.
At the location of wedding is the elaborately decorated Mandap which creates an amazing royal ambience.
The couple can’t just simply put garlands around each other and do away with the formality; so instead the simple process of exchanging garlands becomes a show of strength where if the bride puts the garland around the groom's neck with ease, it denotes that he will be a meek, obedient husband through his wedded life. So friends and family of the groom's side lift him up to make it difficult for the bride to put on the garland. So does the brides side make it difficult for the groom to follow the ceremony with ease.
Kanyadaan, as the name suggests, is one of such a ritual, where father of the Bride bestows the responsibility of his daughter to the Groom with utmost respect. This ritual in absence of father is taken care by the elderly relative or member of the family. As per the practice, the father of the bride places the right hand of the bride over the right hand of the groom. After this, holy water is poured on the palms of the couple while the priest recites Vedic hymns.
As per tradition, groom is considered a form of Lord Vishnu. Presenting him with gifts is deemed as the greatest honor for the parents of the bride. By offering their daughter to the groom, who is their most cherished gift, this ritual is observed. As a symbol of acceptance, the groom touches the right shoulder of the bride, promising to take care of her and holding her responsibility.
In Hindu weddings, one of the most sacred customs is of tying mangalsutra. It is basically a black and gold beaded necklace with a gold or diamond pendant. Mangalsutra carries immense importance in Hindu weddings as well as in the lives of Hindu married women.
An Indian marriage is one of the most serious and scared affair in the society. This is visible from the austerity with which it is performed. The mangalsutra ceremony takes place during the wedding rituals.
A mangalsutra is a black and gold beaded sacred thread with a gold or diamond pendant which is tied around the brides neck during the ceremony with which it is decalred to the world that she is mine herefrom. It is a symbol of marriage and is supposed to be worn by the bride until her husband's death.
Nowadays many brides wear the mangalsutra only during religious festivals, leaving the symbolism to her wedding ring for other days. The marriage status of most Indian women can be recognised through a mangalsutra.
Sindoor and Toe Ring:
Sindoor is a traditional red or orange-red coloured cosmetic powder (vermillion) which is usually worn by married women along the centre parting of their hair.
During the marriage ceremony, sindoor is applied for the first time to a Hindu woman by her groom in what is called the "Sindoor Dana" ceremony. Post which she must apply this every day in the parting of her hairline while her husband is alive.
Many scholars construe the custom using scientific rationale.Vermilion/sindoor is prepared by mixing turmeric-lime and mercury. Sindoor is applied right up to the pituitary gland where all our feelings are centred, and the mercury controls blood pressure and activates the woman's sexual drive.
Not barring the fact that these days majority of the married women in cities don’t really apply it except when they are to appear in any of the family functions or formal family ceremonies.
After the baraat, one of the most entertaining ceremonies is the 'Joota Chupai' which literally means 'hiding the shoes.' which is a kind of prank ( in a layman language) played by the Saalis (the bride's sisters/cousins/bridesmaids) wherein the Saalis steal the shoes of the Groom as soon as he takes them off to enter Pooja (performed in front of the sacred fire in the sacred canopy) and strives best to kept it hidden from the grooms family until the conclusion of the function.
The negotiation for the shoes between both sides is one of the biggest comedy show in the function which is enjoyed by all present.
Saath Pheras (Seven Vows):
The Seven Vows are the seven promises that the bride and the groom commit to each other in front of the sacred fire. They bind themselves by these promises for the rest of their lives. These vows are known as Saptapadi (Seven Sacred Steps of marriage), which are performed along with Mangalpheras, which is the process of walking around the sacred fire and also has a legal relevance. As per law to constitute a valid marriage, the very essence of it lies in the Saat Pheras. Any marriage without this is considered to be incomplete.
On the day of the wedding the bride and the groom sit under the sacred canopy for this ritual which looks more like a flower umbrella with a sweet aroma of flowers all around. It's an auspicious area where everyone takes off their shoes before sitting next to the sacred fire.
By the time, it is turn for the couple to take the seven vows, it is midnight and while pandit chants the seven vows to everyone present (who by then are half asleep), the only people full awake are the couple and the pandit. The 'pandit' chants the seven vows in Sanskrit and translates these sacraments in hindi for the benefit of the couple and the guests present. While he chants the vows the couple circles the sacred fire and each circle they take is a symbol of a vow committed to by the couple.
The bride is seated to the left of the groom before the commencement of saat feras and later on conclusion she shifts to the right of the groom which is indicative of she being close to her husband's heart.
This the most emotional part of the wedding. The bride is leaving her home to start a new life. Emotions are high; emotions are mixed, happy, and sad all at the same time.
Before crossing the doorstep of the wedding venue/house, as the case may be, she throws three handfuls of rice and coins over her head back into the house which symbollizes that the bride is repaying her parents for all that they have given her so far and that she respects it utmost. She in a way convey that she value all the teachings of her parents and shall abide it through her new wedded life.
After a tearful goodbye, the brothers and cousins of the bride push the car as she leaves for her new home where the pushing is symbolic of them helping her leave and start her new wedded life. The groom takes his bride home in a decorated car (decorated with red roses all over); and the groom's family welcome her with gifts and some post-wedding games.
Hope you enjoy reading this piece of information and when next you visit India and/or attend a Punjabi wedding, as the case be, don’t miss the delight in every moment of such a wedding of which everything is so beautiful and more so because of the belief’s and goodness that underlies it.