Punjabi/ Sikh weddings in general draw lot of curiosity amongst the people due to a simple reason that they are fun filled and last for the whole week. My friends get super excited even with the thought of attending a Punjabi wedding. I am often asked this question about the ritual and ceremonies that form a Sikh wedding. A number of random rituals and ceremonies make up a wedding.
This topic is in great demand within my organization Mainstreet Equity Corp. as one of our team members is getting married very soon. It will be a traditional Punjabi wedding and will include all the ceremonies that are being talked about in the below column.
In my article I give you insight into all of all our traditions and the significance of these rituals:
Roka / Thaka:
A traditional Punjabi wedding has a series of events that lead to the big day. It begins with the Roka ceremony, an event that is attended by only close family members. Ardaas (prayer) is performed at the beginning and then the bride’s family visits the groom in absence of their daughter to bless and welcome their new family member with open heart. Then the groom’s family visits the bride’s home which is referred to as Thaka ceremony. Gifts, basket of fruits and dry fruits are exchanged by the family members.
The significance of this ceremony is to make an announcement that the girl and boy are now officially engaged.
Chunni ceremony is considered as an official engagement. The groom’s family visits the bride’s home. Women that are related to the groom’s family will present the girl with a red outfit and then get her dressed for the occasion. Then the boy’s mother places a red Chunni on the outfit that is worn by the girl. Rings are exchanged, family members feed the couple with sweets and gifts are placed in the lap of the bride.
The girl’s family will now present the groom with some gifts and will feed him sweets. The boy’s sister will place a palla (long scarf) around the boy’s shoulders; handful of dry fruits and some presents are placed in his lap. Then the bride’s father will present the groom with a golden Kara or a chain or a ring depending on their rituals. The fathers of the bride and groom hug each other and put garland over each other symbolizing the families union.
Wedding cards are prepared; the girl’s family sends the first invitation to the groom’s family. In a similar way the groom’s family will send a key family member to give the first invitation to the bride’s family. This is done to signify that marriage has been finalized and the wedding preparations should begin. This event is performed in the presence of the elders of the family as a token of respect.
An event filled with entertainment; emotions are expressed through singing and dancing. This event generally caters to women and children. The event begins with folk songs called Kori (if you are from the groom’s side) and suhag (if you are from the bride’s side). Guests are seen singing and dancing to the songs played by the DJ. A mischievous event, were songs are aimed at close family members. Food and drinks are served throughout the event.
In this ceremony, mehndi is applied to the bride and groom. Bride keeps the mehndi for a long time as there is a popular belief that it makes the bond between the husband and wife stronger. All the female members and close relatives from both families apply mehndi. This event is considered to be auspicious and it represents a form of celebration.
Jaago and Choora Ceremony:
A ceremony where the maternal family of the bride and groom will gift the couple with their wedding outfits. Clothes are also gifted to the paternal family. Jaago means to stay awake all night. In the earlier days family members would walk to the nearby places and would give verbal invitation to people. This is an event that is fading away.
Choora ceremony is a big event for the bride as it signifies the fact that she will be married. The girls generally wear choora (wedding bangles) for a minimum of 6 months after their marriage. Dry coconut is given to the bride during this ceremony.
Now comes the day that all family members await, yes the main event that connects these earlier celebrations and rituals. This event begins with a bath where the water is fetched from the Gurudwara (place where Sikh’s worship) well as it is considered pure, for the bride and groom. Then the bride is dressed up and her maternal uncle will cover her head with a bridal scarf (dupatta). Once the groom is ready he is presented with a sword that he carries with him for the rest of the day. This is done to symbolize that he will protect his wife at all times. Then the groom is assigned a sarwalla (the best man) who will assist him in carrying out minor activities. A sehra (turban) is tied to the groom then he climbs on a horse and marches towards getting his bride. People celebrate this event by dancing and singing along the way.
As both the families reach Gurudwara, milne is performed where the elders of the family meet and greet each other with garlands. Sweets are served: then the wedding ceremony is performed. Families pay their respect to the Guru Grant Sahib Ji (holy book). Then the groom sits in front of the Guru Grant Sahib Ji, awaiting his bride who then walks in with her brother and sits next to him. Then the father of the bride will perform palla rasam which symbolizes the giving away of his daughter. Four laavan is performed, this signifies the union of the husband and wife and their journey together. Once the vows are taken, Kirtan (hymn) is performed and then a final Ardaas is done to conclude the marriage ceremony. Food and sweets are served to all. No meat or alcohol is served at this event as the celebration takes place at the Gurudwara.
Final celebration begins with a lavish party. A huge venue is booked. This is the most happening event of all. It is the most significant event, where singing and dancing groups are called upon to entertain the guest. Kids prepare dance performances for the newly married couple. The guests congratulate the couple and then present them with gifts and money; as a token of their approval and blessing to the couple. A variety of food and sweets are served to the guest. Family members take to the dance floor and everyone along with the bride and groom rock the floor.
This is the way a Sikh wedding is performed.
Mainstreet Equity Corp. is a publicly traded (TSX: MEQ) residential real estate company in Canada. Mainstreet currently owns and operates properties in Surrey, BC; New Westminster, BC; Abbotsford, BC; Calgary, AB; Cochrane, AB; Lethbridge, AB; Edmonton, AB; Fort Saskatchewan, AB; and Saskatoon, SK.
Mainstreet provides affordable, renovated apartment suites to Canadians, and is committed to creating real value without diluting shareholder interests.