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Punjabi Weddings

Punjabi weddings characterize the exuberant, enthusiastic approach to life of this north Indian state. In a Punjabi wedding the activities begin weeks before the actual marriage ceremony takes place. As friends and relatives pour in, the wedding home starts acquiring a carnival like atmosphere. The formal ceremonies begin with sagan where the two families exchange gifts to conform the engagement.

After the formal engagement the real festivities begin. There is sangeet every evening. Everyone joins in the fun, from the oldest gray haired grandparent to the youngest member of the family. The verses range from the love ballads of Waris Shah, to the travails of the bahu in her sasural, to the slightly bawdy lyrics with impossible to translate naughty puns and innuendoes.

One of the most important ritual connected with the bride's toilette is churha or the bangles ceremony, where the maternal uncle and aunt of the bride cover the bride's wrists with white and red bangles. Light ornaments of beaten silver and gold called kalira are tied to the bangles of the churha, which makes it impossible for the bride to perform any household task, as the kaliras get in the way.

A few hours before the arrival of the baraat the bride dresses up in the traditional bright colored salwar-kameez , jewelry, tikka a glittering pendent on her head. She drapes her head and shoulders with the dupatta , a richly embroidered mantle.

The groom's procession reaches the brides house in a cacophony of excitement. With this friends dancing the rigorous bhangra in front of his mare. After the jaimala, the baraat is taken to the shamiana for the wedding feast. Soon after the feast, in the last hours of the evening approaches the time for the pherey , the actual wedding ceremony. Here the bridal couple are made to sit in front of the Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs. The brief ceremony of the circumambulation of the Granth Sahib ends with the reading of the ardas, a rousing salutation to the ten gurus of the Sikhs. The last ceremony is the doli , the farewell to the bride. As she leaves her childhood home, she throws handfuls of rice over her shoulders so that prosperity may continue, even after she, the Lakshmi of the house departs.

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