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
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