Punjabi weddings are always a grand affair with their extravagant celebrations, reflecting their zest for life in general. The day is filled with traditions and rituals that are outlined below:
The pre-wedding ceremonies begin with the Roka. It is a ceremony that is attended by family members and close friends and is an announcement made by the couple stating that they have found their soul-mate and will look no further for a life partner. The origin of the ceremony comes from the tradition of the arranged marriage where the parents would find a suitable match for their daughter/son. Once a match had been found, their search can come to a close, and the Roka ceremony marks this moment. It is often conducted at the bride's home and involves the exchange of gifts and money.
The second ceremony marks the exchange of the ring as a formal way of asking for the bride's hand in marriage, called the Sagai. It begins with the tikka ceremony that is held a week or ten days before the wedding and is the process of the father of the bride applying tikka (forehead mark made of paste or powder) to his son-in-law's forehead. The bride's family is given baskets of items such as dried fruits, cashew nuts, almonds, coconut pieces and raisons. Then, she is draped with a red or pink chunni and presented with jewellery. A dot of henna is applied to her palm for good luck and the process is sealed with the exchange of rings.
The next ceremony is hosted by the bride's family called the Sangeet where they play the dholki and sing songs about the couple. This event is repeated in the groom's family home.
The final part of the pre-wedding ceremonies is the henna or mehendi ceremony. This is where henna is applied to the hands and feet of the bride and the other female members of the bride's family and friends. A basket is handed around containing bindis and bangles for the women to choose, dependent on the outfit they plan to wear to the wedding.
On the morning of the wedding day the bride is given "chura" to wear, which are red and white ivory bangles symbolising her status as bride. On the churas a kalira (jingle) is tied onto them to convey the good wishes from her relatives. The groom bathes in water from the temple and changes into his new clothes. The groom's father or elderly relative ties the "sehra" on his head before he is ready to leave for the venue. The couple then have to be decorated with a sacred "mauli" (thread) tied with "kaudi" (shells) and "supari" (betel nut). The thread has numerous amounts of knots in the thread to make it difficult to remove later.
The groom is led into the "vedi" where the pundit performs the puja, and the first mantras are recited only by the male. Members of the bride's side of the family grab the groom's shoes and hide them, which are later exchanged for money. The bride is led to the "vedi" and the ritual of "kanya daan" takes place. This is where the bride's father puts a ring onto the groom's finger before placing his daughter's hand in his. The couple then take the seven pheras round the holy fire while exchanging vows of love, duty, fidelity, nourishment, happiness, strength, respect and harmony.
After the wedding ceremony has come to a close, the bride has to leave the house of her family to join her new family. The bride throws rice over her head symbolising good wishes to her parents. When reaching the groom's house the couple is welcomed by a ceremony, and on the day after the wedding, the newly-wed couple will visit the bride's parents home.