Punjabi weddings are colorful, loud, and fun. They are known for lots of dancing and infamous for unending supply of booze. That’s the perception of everyone who isn’t from Punjab. But Punjabi weddings are much more than that. While there are tons of other things Punjabi weddings should be famous for, we are today going to talk about Punjabi wedding rituals.
Whether you are invited as a guest, attending the shaadi as a family member, or are simply curious, there are many traditional Punjabi wedding rituals and activities you should expect to see.
In this blog, Eventswedo will tell you about 20 Punjabi wedding rituals and activities that make Punjabi shaadis a festive affair. Learn about these rituals so that you don’t have to ask the bride and groom gang ‘what’s going on!’
Let’s put a spotlight on pre-wedding Punjabi rituals and activities first:
Roka, also called Rokna, is a traditional Punjabi pre-wedding commitment ceremony where Dulha and Dulhan’s family officially marks the union of the couple. The word Roka indirectly implies that from onwards, the bride and groom should stop looking out for other wedding prospects because the wedding is finalized.
During the ritual, the bride’s family visits the groom’s place to offer the Dulha their blessings along with various gifts for the family including fruits, sweets, clothes, and money, which is also known as shagun. The groom’s family reciprocate the gesture by visiting the bride’s family on the separate day carrying gifts. This part of the ritual is called Thaka in Punjabi.
Earlier, these Roka and Thaka were organized separately but not in the modern era. Depending on the convenience of both families and the availability of key members from both sides, these two traditional Punjabi pre-wedding rituals are jointly organized.
#2 Chunni Chadai
Chunni ceremony is where real Punjabi wedding fun begins. It marks the official engagement of to-be-weds. The family members of the groom visit the bride with gifts, mawa (a sweet dish), jewelry, and a red-colored outfit like a saree or lehenga-choli, along with a red chunni or chunri.
As per the Punjabi wedding tradition, the chunni is placed on the bride’s head and her face is covered with it like a veil. This ritual in Punjab is called chunni chadana. Mother-in-law also helps Dulhan to put the gifted Jewelry like bangles or necklaces on and applies a tiny dot of henna on her palm.
In the end, the father of the groom puts meva into the jholi of the bride, and the groom’s parents give her a date fruit (shuwara in Punjabi) to eat.
In traditional Punjabi weddings, the Sagai ceremony takes place on the same day as chunni chadai ritual. Whilst some families like it to be a private and intimate affair, others invite a lot of guests, friends and throw a fancy bash. The bride and groom exchange rings surrounded by their close friends and family members, thus formally getting accepted to their in-law family.
Unlike western weddings, no marriage vows or vows of love are exchanged. In fact, in some traditional Punjabi families, the rings are given to each other only at the end of a marriage and no separate event is organized.
#4 Mehndi ceremony
Mehndi ceremony is the most indispensable part of Punjabi weddings. During this ritual, the Dulhan sits down on a traditional stool and henna paste is applied to her hands and feet. She and her friends select the mehndi designs to apply on hands, arms, feet, and legs.
Other female members of the to-be-bride family (married and unmarried) can also get Mehndi applied to their hands. This Punjabi traditional ceremony takes place at both groom and bride’s houses, with their own set of guests.
At the groom’s place, the same pre-wedding function is celebrated but on a smaller scale. A modest henna design is applied to the Dulha’s palms. Traditional Punjabi wedding songs are sung during the whole ceremony.
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#5 Ladies’ Sangeet
A Punjabi wedding is half-done without a ladies’ sangeet function. This ceremony takes place on the same day, post the mehndi. Ladies close to the bride sing and dance to mark the special day. It is quite similar to the bachelor’s party organized in the west to celebrate the last evening of the bride and groom as bachelors.
The ladies on both sides sing, dance, play musical instruments, especially dhol, and also tease the bride as well as groom. Every element of ladies sangeet ceremony is exquisite, fantastic, and too much fun.
Since Punjabis are self-avowed foodies, every type of snack, be it desi or continental, is served to the guests during or at the end of the ladies’ sangeet.
Wedding Day rituals
#6 Kangana Bandhana ceremony
Kangana Bandhana is the first traditional ritual performed on the wedding day. A sacred thread (mauli) is tied on the wrist of a bride and groom in their own houses respectively by the priest. Both are supposed to keep it on their wrist as it is considered a good-luck charm in Punjabi tradition and wait until it falls off.
#7 Chhodha Chadana
One of the most important and emotional rituals for the bride’s family. A sacred fire is lit and elderly members from the Dulhan’s family sit around it. Mamas (mother’s brother) play a vital role in this Punjabi wedding ritual. He along with his wife gifts a set of 21 bangles (red and ivory) to the bride.
The bangles are purified in milk and rose petals. Later, Mama ji puts on the bangles into his niece’s hands. However, these bangles are immediately covered with white cloth, as the Dulhan is not supposed to see them. According to Punjabi beliefs, a newlywed lady is expected to wear the set of chhodha for at least 40-45 days.
This ritual takes place before the Punjabi wedding night. The women of both houses apply a mix of sandalwood, turmeric, rosewater, and mustard oil all over the bride’s and groom’s body, especially on the face, hands, and feet. The family members also anoint each other with the same paste and there prevails an atmosphere of joy and gaiety.
For those who are going to see Vatna rasam for the first time, trust us, this new age Punjabi ceremony is full of enjoyment, dancing, and fun.
#9 Ghara Gharoli
Another famous Punjabi traditional ritual that takes place after completion of Haldi rasam. The dried turmeric paste is scrubbed off from Dulhan’s body. She is taken to a temple or a private space at home where she is bathed with holy or regular water. She then performs a prayer to God and Goddess asking for blessings.
At last, the bride returns to her house and takes a proper shower before getting ready for her Honne Waley Saiyaan. The same ritual is also performed by the groom.
Before hitting the wedding venue, the groom and his family gather to perform the popular Punjabi ritual called sehrabandi. A turban and sehra (headgear) are tied around the head of a Dulha by elderly male members of family or brothers-in-law.
The headgear has strings dangling down at the front, which partially covers the face of the groom as he wears it.
#11 Ghodi Charana and surma
A traditional Punjabi wedding is considered incomplete if the groom doesn’t ride a mare to get his Sajini. Before he sets out, his sisters and cousins give the mare something to eat and water to drink.
In some Punjabi families, a gaani (thread with pearls) and chunni (colorful covering for ladies) are tied to the horse. Both these Punjabi rituals are performed by the sisters. Bhabhis (brother’s wife) have their share of ritual as well and it is called Surma. After the groom mounts the mare, bhabhis take turn to apply kajal (kohl) to his eyes.
When all the above is done, all the family members, guests, and friends follow him while dancing on the sick beats of dhol.
Wedding outfit and shoe guide for Punjabi grooms to look dapper on D-day.
Wedding Night Rituals – At palace and home
This traditional Punjabi ritual marks the arrival of the groom on his horse with his procession in tow. Dulha and his parents are welcomed by the family members of Dulhan.
Punjabis are pretty loquacious and love building new relationships. So when the two groups meet, a lot of love and warmth is exchanged. If you are new to Punjabi weddings, expect a lot of hugging and feet touching!
The groom is greeted by his mother-in-law with traditional aarti and tika on the forehead. Later, the relatives (chacha, mama, fufa, and others) are sought by the corresponding relative from the bride’s side. They greet each other with gifts and are welcomed inside the venue.
This traditional Punjabi wedding ritual is called Milni which literally means ‘meeting’.
#14 Ribbon ceremony
This is a rasam through which the groom and his friends get to meet the saalis (sisters of the bride). This ceremony is pretty popular in all of North India and leads to a lot of fun and laughs.
In this Punjabi wedding activity, the sisters of the bride block the entry for the to-be jeeja and ask for money. Wit is often at play as the groom side negotiates on the money and tries to enter the wedding premises. Once the shagun is paid and girls do the tilak, the groom enters!
After Dulha enters the wedding, he is led to an elevated platform where he waits for the arrival of the bride. At the sacred mahurat, the Dulhan too walks in and gets up on the stage. Both of them exchange garlands and smile a lot.
Jaimala is a fun-filled Punjabi ceremony where Dulhanwale and Dulhewale sometimes lift both the bride and groom, making it difficult for both to put a garland over each other’s head. Pretty fun this Punjabi wedding tradition is!
Another touching and sentimental ritual of a traditional Punjabi wedding. Kanyadan is an old Vedic ritual where the bride’s father gives his daughter’s hand in the hands of the groom and asks him to treat her with love, care, attention, and respect.
The Dulhan also promises his father that she will also treat his other half with utmost love and respect throughout her life. Kanyadan also has deep spiritual and cosmic relevance in Hindu marriages.
This Punjabi wedding ritual is followed by the seven pheras where the bride and groom circle around the sacred fire. For the first 3 rounds, Dulhan precedes the groom and for the rest 4, she has to follow Dulha. Each phera is a significant promise that the bride and groom take in the presence of Pandit Ji.
This ceremony ends when the groom puts sindoor on the bride’s forehead and ties Manglasutra around her neck to seal the deal. In Sikh culture, the phere are done around the guru granth sahib and at a gurudwara. The count of pheras differ too.
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#18 Joota chhupai
Joota chhupai is not exactly a ritual but an old tradition that is followed in Punjabi weddings for ages. The bride’s sister and cousins hide the groom’s shoes during the phere and later demand a ransom from him. All this mischief is done for pure fun and in jest.
After a lot of bargaining between the two parties, the groom has finally come to an agreement and pays a certain amount of money to get back his shoes.
Vidaai, an emotional tradition that marks the official time for Dulhan to bid adieu to her first home. Brides usually bid a tearful goodbye to her mother, father, and family members, and throws a handful of rice over her shoulder in her family’s direction.
This ritual expresses her gratitude towards her family for taking care of her for so long. Finally, she is sent off in a decorated car to her husband’s home.
#20 Post-wedding games
After riding the emotional roller coaster of a traditional Punjabi pre-wedding and wedding, the fun of post-wedding functions commences. It starts with a lot of traditional games that are played in the groom’s house. One of the famous games is fishing the ring where a ring is kept hidden deep inside a thaal or bowl filled with milk, water, flowers, and vermilion.
It is then placed in front of both the bride and groom, where they are asked to find the ring from the thaal. They are meant to put their hands into the vessel to search for ring by using one hand only. It is the best of seven series, and the one who finds the ring four times is announced as the winner of the game.
This traditional Punjabi wedding ritual is not just fun to play but is even entertaining to watch. It also has a sweet significance for whoever finds the rings first will have the upper hand in the marriage for life. Other popular Punjabi wedding rituals are:
- Bride entry in house
- Pani warna
- Sehra removal
#21 Pag phera
Once the wedding is over, Dulhan’s brother comes to pick her from Sasural in order to take her back to the maternal house. She spends the entire night at her Maaika. Bride’s brother drops her back to Sasural again on the very next day.
Pag phera is a sweet ritual that signifies the Dulhan is still welcome in her maternal house the same way as before her marriage. Couples who live long distance apart often wrap up this ritual by a simple visit rather than stay.
Above are famous traditional rituals and ceremonies that make Punjabi weddings complete and exciting. We bet this type of shaadi will leave you mesmerized by its splendor and humbled as well as touched by its simple but profoundly symbolic and philosophical rituals.
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Are you familiar with any rituals that we missed out? Please drop them in the comments and we will add them in this list of best Punjabi wedding rituals, ceremonies, and activities.