I feel like I'm at a point in my life where all my friends are getting married. To make it even more interesting, my sister and cousin got married this past summer, both of whom are younger than me. As many of you know, both hold a special place in my heart and in our circle of family and friends - which is what inspired me to share with you how Punjabi weddings work and what makes them special.
If you've ever been to a Punjabi wedding, you know how lavish and over-the-top they can be. An average wedding can easily cost $200,000. The tone is set with the actual invitation. The invitation is usually multiple pages and each page is carefully crafted and designed. You can tell how serious it is just from the sheer thickness of the paper.
For some background, historically, most Sikh weddings were arranged. However, today, it is accepted that Sikhs marry someone they choose themselves. Of course, in order to show respect to their parents, it is best to seek their approval. Traditionally, the parents of the man ask the parents of the woman for their daughter's hand in marriage.
To get started, Punjabi weddings have events on both the groom and brides side 4-5 days before the actual wedding - here I will try to highlight only the main events. About a week before the wedding, there is the Sagan, which is when the bride's family visits the groom's family with gifts to confirm the engagement. Around the same day, there is the Lady Sangeet, which is a function hosted by the girl's family held for the bride and her bridesmaids. The bride's family plays music and sings songs related to the bride and groom. Nowadays, people hire DJs and have a party, followed by dinner.
Another ritual is to hold an Akhand Path, which signifies a happy and beautiful occasion and to receive the blessings of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the central religious scripture of Sikhism. A couple days before the wedding is the Mayiaan, an event that includes tons of singing and multiple rituals. One of which is the Vatna, in which the bride/groom are rubbed with a tumeric paste to cleanse and balance the body for married life.
Then there is the Jaggo ceremony. During the Jaggo, the family dances and sings on the road in front of the beautifully decorated wedding home. As they dance, the aunts of the bride/groom hold a copper vessels above their head, which are decorated with divas (clay lamps) and lit. It usually is a loud ceremony, filled with joy, dancing, fireworks, and food. Note: This is also when neighbors down the street start to question what the h%$l is going on. A few of them might stop over and remind you they still have to work the next morning.
On the morning before the wedding, a ritual of Chura (involving a set of ivory and red bangles) is performed at the bride's residence in which maternal uncle and aunt play an important role. The uncle and aunt place the bangles on their niece while the women sing traditional songs. People touch the chura and give their heartiest wishes to the girl for her future married life. Similarly, the groom also receives a set of clothes called sherwani from his maternal uncles which he, too, wears at the wedding ceremony.
This takes us to the actual day of the wedding (where most of the pictures are from), which includes the Baraat & Milni, Anand Karaj, and reception. The Baraat and Milni take place right before the actual wedding ceremony. Milni literally means "Introductions". In a Sikh marriage, Ardas is performed by the person in charge of looking after the Sikh scriptures, followed by the formal introductions of senior men in the families. As a token of good luck, the girl's relatives give the groom's close relatives gifts of cash and clothes.
Following the Milni, is the Anand Karaj, a marriage ceremony held at a Gurdwara (temple). The Anand Karaj ceremony is a joyous and festive event in which families and friends from both sides are heavily involved. The four lavaan (hymns) are recited while the couple walk in a circle four times around the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The wedding usually takes place in the morning and is completed before noon.
Then there is the extravagant reception. The reception is all about food, dancing, and celebrations. It's like a scene out of a movie. If you haven't been, I strongly advise you make a few Punjabi friends. It's definitely one of the most memorable events you will ever attend.
If you want a more in depth breakdown and have a few laughs, check out my boy's video.
Thank you all, I hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know if you have any feedback or comments!